Overview

Brief Summary

Otter civet (Cynogale bennettii)

The otter civet or mampalon is a semi-aquatic civet native to peninisular Thailand [3,9-11], Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra [3] and Borneo [12]. A very old record from Singapore [8] may involve an animal taken there or one with a trade locality; there is also a possible record from southern Yunnan, China in 1973 [12], so the civet may also occur in Lao PDR (13]. Its preferred habitat seems to be lowland primary dry and peat swamp forests [3,4] along the borders of streams and rivers [14], but it has also been recorded in freshwater swamp forest, limestone forest, secondary forest, bamboo and logged forest [3,12,17,18]. The civet is @ 705-880 mm. from head to tail (14) and weighs 3-5 kg. The fur ranges in color from pale close to the skin to almost black at the tips. The blackish fur is interspersed with longer gray hairs, giving a frosted look [14]. The many vibrissae, or whiskers, are very long and there are many of them [15]. The civet's adaptations include a long muzzle, broad mouth and wide, webbed feet with long claws and naked soles for swimming. The nostrils and ears can be closed with flaps [14]. The teeth resemble those of a seal. Two of the three premolars have jagged edges. The wide molars have many ridges. The tooth pattern is differs from the typical secodont dentition of most carnivores (16). The otter civet is nocturnal, terrestrial, semiaquatic and secretive [3,4], but may be active by day [4]. It gets most of its food from the water [9,19,20], so never strays far from water [15]. It eats fish, crabs and freshwater molluscs, as well as small mammals and birds [9,21], which it may capture as the prey drinks from the edges of streams and rivers. It may lie in wait for its prey, skimming the surface of the water [21]. It can climb to feed on birds and fruit. Males have scent glands near their genitals and these may play a role in reproduction [14]. Females have 2-3 young per season. The young are born without the frosted hairs on their backs and may still be with their mother in May. Captives may live for 5.2 years [22]. The civet is listed as Endangered and is on CITES Appendix II [1,11], due to a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be over 50% over the past three generations (about 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants [1]. Major threats include converting peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations using clear-cut logging [3]. Selective logging may alter the habitat so that the civet can't survive there [3,17]. The civet also faces competition from better adapted species [14]. The civet occurs in many protected areas including Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary in western Sarawak [4], Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand, Bukit Sarang Conservation Area in Sarawak [12], Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra [3], Danau Sentarum National Park [24] and Leuser National Park in Sumatra [25](van Strien, 1996).
There is no evidence that the civet is specifically hunted, but this ground-dwelling species is exposed to snares and other ground-level traps set for other species [1]. Civet oil or civet is secreted from the glands in the genital area and has been used for centuries in the perfume industry. It is refined and processed into the base of perfume [10]. The supposed origin of Lowe's otter civet (C. lowei), known from one holotype found in 1926 in northern Vietnam, has not been confirmed.[3]
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Distribution

Range Description

Otter Civet has a Sundaic distribution. It is found in Malaysia (peninsular and Borneo), Indonesia (Sumatra and Borneo), Brunei Darussalam and Thailand. Assuming thesight-record at Kaeng Krachan in the north of peninsulaThailand is valid (Chutipong et al. 2014), the species is likely also to occur in Peninsular Myanmar, although there are no records from Myanmar to date. With no specific search for the species and very little general survey in the relevant parts of the country, this lack of records does not strongly suggest the species absence(Than Zaw et al. 2008,Than Zaw pers. comm. 2014). There is a very old record labelled as from Singapore (Meiri 2005) but there is no evidence that this was not a traded specimen, and no other indication that thespecies hasever occurred in the country(Chua et al. 2012). A 1920s record from northern Viet Nam was assumed by Veron et al. (2006) to have an erroneous provenance. Three subsequent reports from Yunnan province, China, and one from non-Sundaic Thailand, which lent an appearance of mutual corroboration to the Viet Nam locality, are based only on second-hand reports and have not been verified with either specimens or photographs (Schreiber et al. 1989, Veron et al. 2006, Chutipong et al. 2013). Therefore, thespecies istaken here not to occur outsideSundaicSoutheast Asia.

Recent records of Otter Civet from Borneo are from Sarawak (e.g., Belden et al. 2007), Sabah (Wilting et al. 2010, A.J. Hearn and J. Ross pers. comm. 2014) and Central Kalimantan (Cheyne et al. 2010). There are also recent records from east-central Sumatra (ZSL Indonesia Programme pers. comm. 2014). As of late 2014, only two recent records were traced from the Thai-Malay peninsula, both from the Endau-Rompin Landscape, Johor, Malaysia: once each in 2012 and 2013 (M. Gumal pers. comm. 2014).

Otter Civet has been recorded at 1,370 m a.s.l. in Bario, Sarawak, but the majority of records are from lowland forest, down to sea-level (Veron et al. 2006, Cheyne et al. in prep.).
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Cynogale bennettii, more commonly known as the otter civet or mampalon, inhabits the Malay Penninsula and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They may also occur in southern Thailand.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World Sixth Edition Vol. 1. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Otter civets are approximately 705-880 mm. from head to tail (Nowak 1999). The fur ranges in color from pale close to the skin to almost black at the tips. The blackish fur is interspersed with longer gray hairs, giving it a frosted look (Nowak 1999). The vibrissae, or whiskers, are very long and there are many of them (Burton and Pearson 1987). Cynogale bennettii is a prime example of the diversification and specializations that have arisen in the family Viverridae (Joshi et al. 1995).

Cynogale bennettii possess several features which suit its aquatic lifestyle. Their nostrils can be closed with flaps, as can their ears (Nowak 1999). Their feet are webbed and rather wide for swimming. Their teeth show similarities to those of a seal. Otter civets have three premolars, two of which have jagged edges. The molars are wide with many ridges. The tooth pattern is different from the typical secodont dentition of most carnivores (Parker 1990).

Range mass: 3 to 5 kg.

Range length: 705 to 880 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

  • Burton, J., B. Pearson. 1987. The Collins Guide to the Rare Mammals of the World. Lexington, MA: Stephen Greene Press.
  • Joshi, A., J. Smith, F. Cuthbert. November, 1995. Journal of Mammalogy, 76: 1205-1212.
  • Parker, S. 1990. Grimzek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Vol 3. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill INC..
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Little is known of Otter Civethabitat and ecology. This species was believed to be confinedlargelyto peat swamp forests, but there are now alsorecords from lowland dipterocarp forest (Sebastian 2005, Cheyne et al. in prep.). It seems to be most strongly associated with lowland primary forest, but it has been recorded in secondary forest, bamboo, and logged forest (Veron et al. 2006, Wilting et al. 2010, A.J. Hearn and J. Ross pers. comm. 2014); its long-term persistence in these habitats is unknown (Veron et al. 2006). It has also been recorded in freshwater swamp forest and in limestone forest amid acacia plantation in Bukit Sarang Conservation Area, Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007). It has been recorded at 1,370 m a.s.l. in Bario, Sarawak, but the majority of records are from lowland forest (Veron et al. 2006, Cheyne et al. in prep.).Otter Civet is semi-aquatic (Veron et al. 2006) and isassumed to forage in water for fish, crabs, molluscs, small mammals, and birds (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). It is predominantly nocturnal (Sebastian 2005, Ross et al. in prep. a).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Due to its semi-aquatic nature, Cynogale bennettii resides in swampy wetlands and borders of streams and rivers in tropical Southeast Asia and Indonesia (Nowak 1999). Otter Civets are terrestrial animals, but will never stray too far from water (Burton et al. 1987).

Terrestrial Biomes: rainforest

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Trophic Strategy

Judging from the Otter Civet's dention patterns, scientists believe the diet consists of fish, mollusks, crayfish, small mammals, and birds (Parker 1990). Cynogale bennettii is also thought to capture small mammals and birds as the prey drinks from the edges of streams and rivers. It has been hypothesized that the Otter Civet lies in wait for its prey, actually skimming the surface of the water, much like a crocodile or alligator (Parker 1990).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: In captivity, these animals have lived for 5.2 years (Richard Weigl 2005), though given the longevity of similar species this appears considerably underestimated. More detailed studies are needed to determine the maximum longevity of this species.
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Reproduction

Very little information exists on the breeding patterns of Cynogale bennettii. Females will generally have between two and three young per season. Young have been found still with their mothers in May. The young are born without the frosted hairs on their backs. Scent glands have been found near the genital areas of males, which may play a role in reproduction

(Nowak 1999).

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average number of offspring: 2.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
C1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
Ross, J., Wilting, A., Ngoprasert, D., Loken, B., Hedges, L., Duckworth, J.W., Cheyne, S., Brodie, J., Chutipong, W., Hearn, A., Linkie, M., McCarthy, J., Tantipisanuh, N. & Haidir, I.A.

Reviewer/s
Schipper, J.

Contributor/s

Justification
Otter Civet is listed as Endangered because of a presumed small and declining population. Based on data inMiettinenet al. (2011), the presumed primary habitat for Otter Civet has been greatly reduced historically and has declined by about 20% over the last two generations (presumed to be 10 years; Pacifici et al. 2013). The remaining habitat is discontinuous, often degraded; and water sources, presumed to be important for the species, are often polluted. As a ground-dwelling species snares will also be a threat. The population is therefore likely to have declined by substantially more than 20% in the last 10 years.

A map of the area of Otter Civet occupancy for Borneo predicted an area of potentially occupied habitat of 261,614 km. Applying the same reasoning regarding habitat suitability, an additional 44,094 km and 34,999 km could plausibly be available in Sumatra and the Thai-Malay peninsula, respectively. Despite this relatively large area of suitable habitat, Otter Civet is rarely recorded by camera-trap (or other survey method) in the vast majority of its range, even in areas assumed to be good habitat, for example, the peat swamp forests of Sabangau National Park (Cheyne et al. 2010) or Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (A.J. Hearn, J. Ross and D.W. Macdonald pers. comm. 2014). A review of small carnivore records from Thailand did not trace any camera-trap records of Otter Civet and no records from any method since 1998; it might be on the verge of national extinction (Chutipong et al. 2014). Records are also infrequent from Peninsular Malaysia (Veron et al. 2006), with apparently only two recordssince 1990 (M. Gumal pers comm. 2014).As of late 2014, there are no records from Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. 2008,Than Zaw pers. comm. 2014). It has been recorded more frequently in at least two areas of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, both logged lowland forest, with data from one of these areas indicating a breeding population (Wilting et al. 2010, A.J. Hearn and J. Rosspers comm. 2014). However, it is unclear why these two surveys resulted in comparatively high detection rates; surveys in adjacent forest reserves using similar techniques resulted in few records, suggesting that these apparent higher abundances are very localised. Records from Sumatra are also few, although in some areas detections are more frequent than in its mainland range (ZSL Indonesia Programme pers. comm. 2014).

Although Otter Civet seems able to tolerate some forms of habitat disturbance such as logging, it has never been recorded in plantations and its tolerance to each form of habitat disturbance remains unknown. The paucity of records across most of its range, despite intensive and/or long-term camera-trapping in some areas, suggests that it probably exists at very low densities range-wide, although this might vary much. Across its range, average densities might be as low as 1-2 individuals per 100 km (inferred from very low detection rates in most areas), especially becauseit is plausible that the distribution is very patchy with large areas where Otter Civet is no longer present, despite suitable habitat and other areas where densities are higher locally. The number of mature individuals is therefore plausibly fewer than 2,500 (equivalent to a total population of around 3,800) indicating (in combination with the suspected decline rate) a categorisation as Endangered under C1. The large uncertainty in this assessment means Vulnerable is similarly plausible: continuation of the 2008Endangeredlisting is explicitly precautionary. In some areas, the lack of camera-trap records might reflect inappropriate camera-trap placement; the overall few detections might reflect the rarity of surveys in prime Otter Civet habitat. Should future survey results challenge the key assumptions urging a cautious approach (near-restriction to gentle terrain, predominantly lowland; high sensitivity to conversion, degradation and fragmentation of forested wetlands, to pollution and to hunting; and a generally low density with only highly localised higher densities) the Red List categorisation would need revising. It is likely that it would then meet the criteria for Vulnerable under A2 and A3 (which it comfortably meets at present based on coarse habitat loss rates) and C1.

History
  • Endangered (EN)
  • 1996
    Endangered (EN)
  • 1994
    Endangered (E)
  • 1990
    Insufficiently Known (K)
  • 1988
    Insufficiently Known (K)
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Experts hypothesize that otter civet populations may have declined by at least 50 percent. Suspected causes include habitat loss due to human settlement and agriculture. Competition from other more adapted species has also been mentioned (Nowak 1999).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Population

Population
Very little is known about Otter Civet population trends and abundance. Sebastian (2005) consideredits apparent rarity, deduced from a low detection frequency even in heavily surveyed areas, to be puzzling. It is important to determine whether low detection rates reflect bias in choice of survey areas and/or survey methods, or stem from naturally low population densities. All evidence suggests that it is forest dependent and possibly is dependent on clear and unpolluted water sources; therefore it is reasonable to assume the population is in decline. Although it has been detected in logged forest, population densities are likely to be lower there than in primary forest (seeHeydon and Bulloh 1996).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Reduction in primary forest habitat has proceeded very fast throughout the lowland Sundaic region in the last 20 years (e.g.,Holmes 2000,BirdLife International 2001, Jepson et al.2001, McMorrow and Talip 2001, Lambert and Collar 2002, Kinnairdet al. 2003, Curran et al. 2004, Fuller 2004, Eames et al. 2005, Miettinenet al. 2011, Stibiget al. 2014). This has probably reduced Otter Civetpopulations by at least the rate of forest loss.Silting and general pollution of waterways associated with the logging of forests and chemical pollution from activities such as gold mining may also be disproportionally detrimental to this semi-aquatic civet. Conversion of peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations is likely to be a major threat particularly to this species. There is no evidence that the species is specifically hunted, but as a ground-dwelling species it will be exposed to the snares and ground-level traps set for other species. The number of animals caught and effect on the population are unknown.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Otter Civet is listed in Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora,and as threatened in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al. 1989). Its conservation requires protection of forest and riverine habitat, and policing against illegal harvesting of timber and hunting (Veron et al. 2006). Conservation priorities would be better refined by clarification of its tolerance to degraded, fragmented, secondary and converted habitats, including riverine areas in plantations and other areas that maintain some natural vegetation, and itsoccurrence in the various types of wetland habitat. The paucity of recent records in theThai-Malay peninsular, despite an increase in the use of camera-traps, is of great concern, and warrants specific search for the species.

This species has been detected in a fair number of protected areas throughout its range, including Bukit Sarang Conservation Area, Sarawak (Belden et al. 2007), Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand, in 1998 (Anon. 1998), Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra (Veron et al. 2006), Sembilang National Park, Sumatra (ZSL Indonesia Programme pers. comm. 2014), Danau Sentarum National Park, West Kalimantan (Jeanes and Meijaard 2000), Danum Valley Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah (A.J. Hearn and J. Ross pers. comm. 2014) and Sabangau National Park, Central Kalimantan (Cheyne et al. 2010)
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

From the glands in the genital area, civet oil or civet is secreted. This substance has been used for centuries in the perfume industry. It is refined and processed into the base of perfume (Gould et al. 1998).

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Wikipedia

Otter civet

The otter civet (Cynogale bennettii) is a semi-aquatic civet native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. It is listed as Endangered because of a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the past three generations (estimated to be 15 years), inferred from direct habitat destruction, and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants.[1]

Cynogale is a monospecific genus.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

Skull and dentition, as illustrated in Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères

The otter civet possesses several adaptations to its habitat, including a broad mouth and webbed feet with naked soles and long claws. Its muzzle is long with numerous long whiskers. It is in many ways similar to the Hose's palm civet (Diplogale hosei) but has a shorter tail and no whitish underparts.[citation needed]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Otter civets are distributed in Sumatra, Borneo and peninsular Thailand. Preferred habitat appears to be lowland primary forest, but they have also been recorded in secondary forest, bamboo and logged forest. The supposed origin of Lowe's otter civet (C. lowei) known only from one holotype found in 1926 in northern Vietnam was not confirmed.[3] They are thought to be largely confined to peat swamp forests, though there are recent records from lowland dry forest.[4]

In March 2005, an otter civet was camera trapped within an Acacia plantation in central Sarawak during 1,632 trap-nights.[5] Between July 2008 and January 2009, ten otter civets were photographed in an area of about 112 km2 (43 sq mi) in Sabah's Deramakot Forest Reserve, a lowland tropical rainforest in Borneo ranging in altitude from 60–250 m (200–820 ft).[6] In May 2009, the presence of otter civets was documented for the first time in central Kalimantan, where two individuals were photographed in the Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest at an elevation of about 11 m (36 ft).[7]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

The otter civet is a nocturnal species that obtains most of its food from the water, feeding on fish, crabs and freshwater mollusks. It can also climb to feed on birds and fruit. Given its rarity and secretive nature it is a very poorly known species.[citation needed]

Threats[edit]

Conversion of peat swamp forests to oil palm plantations is a major threat. There is no evidence that the species is specifically hunted, but as a ground-dwelling species it is exposed to snares and other ground-level traps set for other species.[1] Clear-cut logging is one of the major factors contributing to decline in suitable habitat, and even selective logging may sufficiently alter habitat such that it is the species can no longer occupy it; combined, this loss of primary forest may be responsible for the current rarity of the otter civet.[3]

Conservation[edit]

Cynogale bennettii is listed in CITES Appendix II.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Duckworth, J. W., Sebastian, T., Jennings, A. and Veron, G. (2008). "Cynogale bennettii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b Veron, G., Gaubert, P., Franklin, N., Jennings, A. P. and Grassman Jr., L. I. (2006). A reassessment of the distribution and taxonomy of the Endangered otter civet Cynogale bennettii (Carnivora: Viverridae) of South-east Asia. Oryx 40: 42–49.
  4. ^ Sebastian, A. C. (2005). Sighting of a Sunda Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii in Sarawak. Small Carnivore Conservation 33: 24–25.
  5. ^ Giman, B., Stuebing, R., Megum, N., Mcshea, W. J., Stewart, C. M. (2007). A camera trapping inventory for mammals in a mixed use planted forest in Sarawak. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 55: 209–215.
  6. ^ Wilting, A., Samejima, H., Mohamed, A. (2010). Diversity of Bornean viverrids and other small carnivores in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 10–13.
  7. ^ Cheyne, S. M., Husson, S. J., Macdonald, D. W. (2010). First Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii photographed in Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest, Indonesian Borneo. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 25–26.
  • Kanchanasakha, B. (1998). Carnivores of Mainland South East Asia. WWF, Bangkok. ISBN 974-89438-2-8
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