Civettictis civetta 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Viverridae

Scientific Name: Civettictis civetta
Species Authority: (Schreber, 1776)
Common Name(s):
English African Civet
French Civette africaine, Civette d'Afrique
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly considered to be congeneric with Asian civets of the genus Viverra. It was first included in Civettictis by Pocock (1915) and retained in that genus by several authors, including Ray (1995, 2013), Kingdon (1997) and Wozencraft (2005), although others, such as Ellerman et al. (1953) and Coetzee (1977), continued to include it in Viverra.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-05-12
Assessor(s): Do Linh San, E., Gaubert, P., Wondmagegne, D. & Ray, J.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W. & Hoffmann, M.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.
African Civet is listed as Least Concern because the species has a wide distribution range, is present in a variety of habitats, is relatively common across its range, is present in numerous protected areas, and has a total population believed to be relatively stable. It may, however, be undergoing some localised declines through hunting, including the off-take of wild animals (males) for the production of civetone, which is used as a fixing agent in the perfume industry.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: African Civet is widely distributed in Africa from Senegal and Mauritania to southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and southern Somalia southwards in all countries to north-eastern Namibia, north and east Botswana, and north-eastern South Africa (Ray 2013). It is present on Zanzibar Island (Pakenham 1984, Stuart and Stuart 1988) and Sao Tome I. (Dutton 1994). The species is recorded from almost sea level to altitudes of 5,000 m a.s.l. on Mt Kilimanjaro (Moreau 1944).
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Guinea (mainland)); Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Upper elevation limit (metres): 5000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is generally common. In South Africa, Amiard (2014) reported densities of 7.5–14.2 individuals/100 km²) in three game reserves located in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, respectively; these estimates were based on camera-trapping and individual identification (using natural markings on the flanks). Using the same methods, Isaacs et al. (in press) reported slightly lower densities (4.43–8.63 individuals/100 km²) in three study sites—two conservation areas and one mosaic area made of ecotourism, hunting and livestock farms—within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve (Limpopo). These authors hypothesised that differences in African Civet density might result from top-down regulation from large carnivores, recreational hunting, poisoning, resource provisioning or human activity.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: African Civets occupy a wide variety of habitats including secondary forest, woodland, and bush habitats, as well as aquatic environments. They are generally absent from arid regions, with the exception of riverine systems therein. They are apparently uncommon in mature interior forest habitats, but will infiltrate deep forest via logging roads, and in the forests of West and Central Africa, they thrive in degraded and deforested areas, and are regularly encountered near villages (Ray 2013). They are also found on cultivated land, for instance in Gabon (Bahaa-el-din et al. 2013) and Ethiopia (Mateos et al. 2015). African Civets are omnivorous and opportunistic foragers (Ray and Sunquist 2001, Bekele et al. 2008b, Amiard 2014), and their diet may include cereals (maize, wheat, barley) and domestic fruits (e.g., bananas, figs, olives; Bekele et al. 2008b). They are terrestrial, nocturnal and solitary, with exception of the breeding season when two or more individuals can be seen together. In Ethiopia, in the Bale Mountains National Park, one radio-tracked sub-adult male had a home range of 11.1 km² (Admasu et al. 2004), while in Wondo Genet, one adult male (0.74 km²) and one sub-adult female (0.82 km²) ranged over much smaller areas (Ayalew et al. 2013). The last two individuals moved at an average speed of 326 m/h and travelled between 1.33 and 4.24 km each night.
Systems: Terrestrial
Generation Length (years): 6

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Besides their prevalence in bushmeat markets in West and Central Africa, in particular, African Civets are economically important because of their perineal gland secretion (civet musk; Randall 1979, Bekele et al. 2008a, Wondmagegne et al. 2011), which was exploited for many centuries as a fixing agent, called 'civetone', in the perfume industry (Anonis 1997). Even though synthetic alternatives have been available for nearly 70 years, civetone remains an important export commodity in several countries, such as Ethiopia, and to a lesser extent, Niger and Senegal (Ray 1995, 2013; Abebe 2003; Ray et al. 2005).

Between 1985 and 1997, civiculture (civet cat farming) generated a total revenue of between ca US$ 150,000–835,000 per year in Africa. According to Kumera (2005 in Bekele et al. 2008b), there are over 200 registered and licensed African Civet farmers who capture African Civets in the wild and keep several thousand individuals in captivity for musk production in Ethiopia. In that country, only 2% of the civet musk produced is used nationally; the rest is exported, essentially to France (85%), for the perfume industry (Girma 1995). Small quantities of civet musk are also exported to Arabian countries for medicinal purposes and to India for use in the tobacco industry (Tamiru 1995).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to the species. However, African Civets are commonly found for sale as bushmeat, for example in Gabon (Bahaa-el-din et al. 2013) as well as in SE Nigeria, where they are used for both food and skin (Angelici et al. 1999). They are frequently found trapped for meat in other countries, including Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, DR Congo and Central African Republic (Ray 2013). The majority of animals (generally males, because of their higher civet musk production) kept for the trade of civetone are taken from the wild, and such off-takes are likely to have localised impacts on wild populations, as well as potentially to lead to a severely female-biased sex ratio. In addition, several African Civets have been reported to die within the first three weeks of capture because of severe stress and physical assault during capture and transportation (Pugh 1998). There are also some concerns about the welfare of these animals, which are typically maintained in very small cages in order to facilitate handling during musk extraction from the perineal glands.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: They are present in numerous protected areas across their range. The population of Botswana is listed on CITES Appendix III. Detailed recommendations to ensure the sustainable use African Civets for musk production can be found in Abebe (2003).

Citation: Do Linh San, E., Gaubert, P., Wondmagegne, D. & Ray, J. 2015. Civettictis civetta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T41695A45218199. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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