Malabar large-spotted civet

Last updated

Malabar large-spotted civet
Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina) DSCN2359 (cut).jpg
Stuffed specimen at Government Museum, Chennai
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Viverra
Species:
V. civettina [2]
Binomial name
Viverra civettina [2]
Blyth, 1862
Malabar Large-spotted Civet area.png
Malabar large-spotted civet range

The Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina), also known as the Malabar civet, is a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List as the population is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals. It has not been recorded during surveys carried out between 1990 and 2014. [1] In the early 1990s, isolated populations still survived in less disturbed areas of South Malabar but were seriously threatened by habitat destruction and hunting outside protected areas. [3]

Contents

It is known as Kannan chandu and Male meru in Kerala വെരുക് (veruk) in Malayalam, and in Karnataka as Mangala kutri, Bal kutri and Dodda punugina. [4]

Taxonomy

Viverra civettina was the scientific name proposed by Edward Blyth in 1862 for a civet specimen from southern Malabar. [5] Reginald Innes Pocock considered V. megaspila and V. civettina to be distinct species. [6] Ellerman and Morrison-Scott considered V. civettina a subspecies of V. megaspila. [7] IUCN Red List considers it a distinct species. [1]

There is some controversy as to whether the Malabar civet is even native to the Western Ghats or whether it is a valid species. Background information for the specimens is scant, so there is little to no information on its ecology or habits. In spite of the heavy habitat destruction in the region, the civet still seems unusually threatened for a small, generalist carnivore. The region where the civet was known to occur is the site of a major trading port, formerly including the trade of civets such as the large-spotted civet. Due to this, there is some speculation on whether the Malabar civet is an introduced population of the large-spotted civet that eventually died off. [1] [8]

Characteristics

The Malabar large-spotted civet is dusky gray. It has a dark mark on the cheek, large transverse dark marks on the back and sides, and two obliquely transverse dark lines on the neck. These dark marks are more pronounced than in the large Indian civet. Its throat and neck are white. A mane starts between the shoulders. Its tail is ringed with dark bands. The feet are dark. [9] It differs from the large-spotted civet by the greater nakedness of the soles of the feet. The hairs on the interdigital webs between the digital pads form submarginal patches; the skin of the plantar pad is naked in front and at the sides. There are remnants of the metatarsal pads on the hind foot as two naked spots, the external a little above the level of the hallux, the internal considerably higher. A male individual kept in the Zoological Gardens of Trivandrum in the 1930s measured 30 in (76 cm) in head and body with a 13 in (33 cm) long tail and weighed 14.5 lb (6.6 kg). [6]

Distribution and habitat

In the 19th century, the Malabar civet occurred throughout the Malabar coast from the latitude of Honnavar to Kanyakumari. It inhabited the forests and richly wooded lowland, and was occasionally found on elevated forest tracts. It was considered abundant in Travancore. [9]

Until the 1960s, extensive deforestation has reduced most of the natural forests in the entire stretch of the coastal Western Ghats. [10] By the late 1960s, the Malabar civet was thought to be near extinction. In 1987, one individual was sighted in Kerala. [11]

In 1987, two skins were obtained near Nilambur in northern Kerala, an area that is dominated by cashew and rubber plantations. Two more skins were found in this area in 1990. These plantations probably held most of the surviving population, as these were little disturbed and provided a dense understorey of shrubs and grasses. Large-scale clearance for planting rubber trees threatened this habitat. [3]

Interviews conducted in the early 1990s among local hunters indicated the presence of Malabar civet in protected areas of Karnataka. [4] During camera trapping surveys in lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen forests in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and Kerala from April 2006 to March 2007, no photographic record was obtained in a total of 1,084 camera trap nights. [12]

Ecology and behavior

The Malabar civet is considered nocturnal and so elusive that little is known about its biology and ecology apart from habitat use. [3]

Threats

Until a few decades ago, local merchants in Kerala reared Malabar civets to obtain civetone, an extract from the scent gland, which was used in medicine, and as an aromatic. [4]

It is now seriously threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation. Until the 1990s, it was confined to remnant forests and disturbed thickets in cashew and rubber plantations in northern Kerala, where the hunting pressure was another major threat. [3]

Alleged sighting

During the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of India, a video clip of an unidentified civet walking the deserted streets of Meppayur was uploaded on Twitter. The civet was identified by its uploader as a Malabar civet and the clip subsequently went viral online. However, numerous experts identified the civet in the video as actually being the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), a similar-looking but far more common species. [13]

Related Research Articles

Western Ghats Mountain range along the western coast of India

The Western Ghats, also known as Sahyadri, are a mountain range that covers an area of 140,000 square kilometres (54,000 sq mi) in a stretch of 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula, traversing the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight hot-spots of biological diversity in the world. It is sometimes called the Great Escarpment of India. It contains a large proportion of the country's flora and fauna, many of which are only found in India and nowhere else in the world. According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas. They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer. The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain, called Konkan, along the Arabian Sea. A total of thirty-nine areas in the Western Ghats, including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests, were designated as world heritage sites in 2012 – twenty in Kerala, ten in Karnataka, six in Tamil Nadu and four in Maharashtra.

Viverridae family of mammals, the viverrids

Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids, comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Viverrids occur all over Africa, into southern Europe, in South and Southeast Asia across the Wallace Line. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.

Asian palm civet Species of viverrid

The Asian palm civet is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. Since 2008, it is IUCN Red Listed as Least Concern as it accommodates to a broad range of habitats. It is widely distributed with large populations that in 2008 were thought unlikely to be declining. In Indonesia, it is threatened by poaching and illegal wildlife trade; buyers use it for the increasing production of kopi luwak, a form of coffee that involves ingestion and excretion of the beans by the animal.

African palm civet species of mammal

The African palm civet, also known as the two-spotted palm civet, is a small feliform mammal widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

African civet largest representative of the African Viverridae

The African civet is a large viverrid native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is considered common and widely distributed in woodlands and secondary forests. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008. In some countries, it is threatened by hunting, and wild-caught individuals are kept for producing civetone for the perfume industry.

Hoses palm civet species of mammal

Hose's palm civet, also known as Hose's civet, is a viverrid species endemic to the island of Borneo. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable because of an ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations and suspected to be more than 30% in the next three generations due to declines in population inferred from habitat destruction and degradation.

Small Indian civet Species of mammal

The small Indian civet is a civet native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List because of its widespread distribution, widespread habitat use and healthy populations living in agricultural and secondary landscapes of many range states.

Genet (animal) genus of mammals

A genet is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula and France.

Nilgiri marten Animal species

The Nilgiri marten is the only marten species native to southern India. It lives in the hills of the Nilgiris and parts of the Western Ghats. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Malabar spiny dormouse species of mammal

The Malabar spiny dormouse is a species of muroid rodent endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is the only extant species in the genus Platacanthomys and although resembling a dormouse, it is not closely related. About the size of a brown rat, this arboreal species lives in tree holes in dense forest habitats in a small family group. They are distinguishable from other species in the area by their bushy tuft tip to the tail and the spiny fur on the back.

Brown palm civet species of mammal

The brown palm civet also called the Jerdon's palm civet is a palm civet endemic to the Western Ghats of India.

Large-spotted civet species of mammal

The large-spotted civet is a viverrid native to Southeast Asia that is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Malayan civet species of mammal

The Malayan civet, also known as the Malay civet and Oriental civet, is a viverrid native to the Malay Peninsula and the islands of Sumatra, Bangka, Borneo, the Riau Archipelago, and the Philippines. It is listed as "Least Concern" by IUCN as it is a relatively widely distributed, appears to be tolerant of degraded habitats, and occurs in a number of protected areas.

Large Indian civet species of mammal

The large Indian civet is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The global population is considered decreasing mainly because of trapping-driven declines in heavily hunted and fragmented areas, notably in China, and the heavy trade as wild meat.

Wildlife of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka in South India has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 38720 km2 which constitutes 1234.67719% of the total geographical area of the state. These forests support 25% of the elephant population and 20% of the tiger population of India. Many regions of Karnataka are still unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are still found. The Western Ghats mountains in the western region of Karnataka are a biodiversity hotspot. Two sub-clusters of the Western Ghats, Talacauvery and Kudremukh in Karnataka, are in a tentative list of sites that could be designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks which fall outside these subclusters were included in the Nilgiri biosphere reserve in 1986, a UNESCO designation. Biligiriranga Hills in Karnataka is a place where Eastern Ghats meets Western Ghats. The state bird and state animal of Karnataka are Indian roller and the Indian elephant respectively. The state tree and state flower are sandalwood and lotus respectively. Karnataka is home to 406+ tigers.

Viverrinae subfamily of mammals, the viverrids

The Viverrinae represent the largest subfamily within the Viverridae comprising five genera, which are subdivided into 22 species native to Africa and Southeast Asia. This subfamily was denominated and first described by John Edward Gray in 1864.

<i>Viverra</i> genus of mammals

Viverra is a mammalian genus that was first nominated and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 as comprising several species including the large Indian civet. The genus was subordinated to the viverrid family by John Edward Gray in 1821.

Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in northern Myanmar, covering 17,373.57 km2 (6,707.97 sq mi). It was established in 2004 and extended to its present size in 2010. It was initially gazetted in 2004 with an area of 6,371 km2 (2,460 sq mi) in Tanaing Township and extended to Kamaing, Nayun and Kamti Townships. In elevation, it ranges from 125 to 3,435 m in the Hukawng Valley located in Kachin State and Sagaing Region. It harbours evergreen and mixed deciduous forests.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Mudappa, D.; Helgen, K. & Nandini, R. (2016). "Viverra civettina". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T23036A45202281. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  2. 1 2 Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Species Viverra civettina". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ashraf, N. V. K.; Kumar, A. & Johnsingh, A. J. T. (1993). "Two endemic viverrids of the Western Ghats, India". Oryx. 27 (2): 109–114. doi:10.1017/S0030605300020640.
  4. 1 2 3 Rai, N. D. and Kumar, A. (1993). A pilot study on the conservation of the Malabar civet, Viverra civettina (Blyth, 1862): project report. Small Carnivore Conservation 9: 3–7.
  5. Blyth, E. (1862). "Report of Curator, Zoological Department, February 1862". The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 31 (3): 331–345.
  6. 1 2 Pocock, R. I. (1939). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. Taylor and Francis, London.
  7. Ellerman, J. R.; Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian Mammals 1758 to 1946 (Second ed.). London: British Museum of Natural History.
  8. "The Elusive Malabar Civet". Conservation India. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  9. 1 2 Jerdon, T. C. (1874). Mammals of India: a natural history of the animals known to inhabit continental India. John Wheldon, London.
  10. Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968). A revised survey of the forest types of India. Government of India, Delhi.
  11. Kurup, C. U. (1987). "The rediscovery of the Malabar civet, Viverra megaspila civettina Blyth in India". Cheetal. 28 (2): 1–4.
  12. Rao, S.; Ashraf, N. V. K. & Nixon, A. M. A. (2007). "Search for the Malabar Civet Viverra civettina in Karnataka and Kerala, India, 2006–2007" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation. 37: 6–10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2015.
  13. Evon, D. (2020). "Was a Rare Malabar Civet Spotted During COVID-19 Lockdown?". Snopes.com. Retrieved 30 March 2020.