Animal Info - Malabar Large Spotted Civet

(Other Names: Jawad, Malabar Civet)

Viverra civettina (V. megaspila c.)

Status: Critically Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Birth Rate, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Malabar Civet (22 Kb JPEG); Related Species - Oriental Civet (Viverra tangalunga) (63 Kb JPEG) (Terrambiente)

Although most civets resemble spotted, long-nosed cats, civets of the genus Viverra are the most dog-like in appearance, with long legs and rather canine heads and muzzles. Based on data for the large spotted civet, Viverra megaspila, which is closely related to the Malabar large spotted civet (and considered by some to be conspecific), it probably weighs 8 - 9 kg (18 - 20 lb). Oriental Civet - Viverra tangalunga

The Malabar large spotted civet's original habitat was found in the evergreen rain forest belt in the Western Ghats of southwest India, where it lived in wooded plains and adjoining hill slopes. Most captures of this species in the last 30 years have been in valleys, around riparian areas. This suggests possible dependence on shallow waterways where the civet forages at night. (Ashraf et al. 1993) Thickets in cashew plantations may also provide important cover. The diet of the related large spotted civet, Viverra megaspila, includes small animals, eggs and some vegetable matter. The Malabar large spotted civet has never been observed in trees and possibly forages almost entirely on the ground. Species of the genus Viverra stay in dense cover by day and come out into the open at night. Malabar large spotted civets are aggressive towards members of their own species and have usually been observed alone.

The Malabar large spotted civet was once very common in the coastal districts of Malabar and Travancore in southwest India. By the late 1960's it was thought to be nearing extinction. None were seen for a long period of time until 1987, when it was rediscovered about 60 km (37 mi) east of Calicut on the southwest coast of India. A 1990 survey revealed that isolated populations of Malabar large spotted civet still survive in less disturbed areas of South Malabar. (Ashraf et al. 1993)

Extensive deforestation has reduced the forests in the Malabar large spotted civet's original range to a series of isolated patches. Habitat loss continues. Cashew plantations, which probably hold most of the surviving populations of Malabar civet, are now threatened by large-scale clearance for planting rubber. The Malabar large spotted civet also has been persecuted for raiding poultry. It is not selectively hunted but is captured and killed when encountered.


Tidbits

*** The Malabar large spotted civet is one of the world's rarest mammals.

*** About 90% of the people interviewed in a 1990 survey in the area where the Malabar large spotted civet is found were not even aware of its existence. Those who were aware of it were mainly hunters, trappers and civet rearers. Scarcely anyone recognized it as a critically endangered species. (Ashraf et al. 1993)

*** Species of the genus Viverra are sources of "civet" (or "civet-musk"), a substance which is used in the production of perfume. The civet-musk of the Malabar large spotted civet was apparently in widespread use 20 - 25 years ago (Ashraf et al. 1993).


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Malabar Large Spotted Civet Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in India. (IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

  • WORLD
    • 1999: Fewer than 250 mature individuals are thought to survive (Nowak 1999)

History of Distribution:

The Malabar large spotted civet was once very common in the coastal districts of Malabar and Travancore in southwest India. By the late 1960's it was thought to be nearing extinction. None were seen for a long period of time until 1987, when it was rediscovered about 60 km (37 mi) east of Calicut on the southwest coast of India. A 1990 survey revealed that isolated populations of Malabar large spotted civet still survive in less disturbed areas of South Malabar. (Ashraf et al. 1993)

Distribution Map (33 Kb JPEG) (Wildl. Inst. India/ENVIS) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Extensive deforestation has reduced the forests in the Malabar large spotted civet's original range to a series of isolated patches. Habitat loss continues. Cashew plantations, which probably hold most of the surviving populations of Malabar civet (see "Habitat" below), are now threatened by large-scale clearance for planting rubber. The Malabar large spotted civet also has been persecuted for raiding poultry. It is not selectively hunted but is captured and killed when encountered.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The weight of the large spotted civet, Viverra megaspila, which is closely related to the Malabar large spotted civet and considered by some to be conspecific, is 8 - 9 kg (18 - 20 lb).

Habitat:

The Malabar large spotted civet's original habitat was found in the evergreen rain forest belt in the Western Ghats of southwest India, where it lived in wooded plains and adjoining hill slopes. Natural forests have almost completely disappeared in the entire stretch of the coastal Western Ghats due to human activities. The present vegetation consists mostly of plantations. The cashew plantations are the least disturbed. They are not weeded and have a dense understory of shrubs and grasses. For a terrestrial species such as the Malabar large spotted civet, these thickets can provide important cover. However, it is likely that the cashew plantations are a ‘refuge' rather than a preferred habitat. Furthermore, most captures of this species in the last 30 years have been in valleys, around riparian areas. This suggests possible dependence on shallow waterways where the civet forages at night. (Ashraf et al. 1993)

The Malabar large spotted civet lives in both the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005) and the Western Ghats Moist Forests Global 200 Ecoregion (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999).

Birth Rate:

Females of the genus Viverra have 1 - 4 young per litter, usually 2 - 3.

Diet:

The diet of the large spotted civet, Viverra megaspila, which is closely related to the Malabar large spotted civet and considered by some to be conspecific, includes small animals, eggs and some vegetable matter.

Behavior:

The Malabar large spotted civet has never been observed in trees and possibly forages almost entirely on the ground. Evidence suggests that the young are raised in secluded thickets. Species of the genus Viverra stay in dense cover by day and come out into the open at night. (Ashraf et al. 1993; Nowak 1999)

Social Organization:

Malabar large spotted civets are aggressive towards members of their own species and have usually been observed alone.


References

Ashraf et al. 1993, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005., Duckworth 1994, IUCN 1968, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1988h, Schreiber et al. 1989, Terrambiente, Wildl. Inst. India/ENVIS


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Last modified: March 5, 2005;

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