Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus)


The ground colour is pale brown, with 7 or 8 wide black bands running across the back,. These bands resemble long triangles having their bases on the back and the vertex towards the abdomen. There is a black band running along the midline of the nose and the forehead, disappearing on the neck. Two other black lines running from the long thin muzzle through each eye to merge with a long black patch on the neck. The under parts and legs are lighter than the upper parts and lack any markings. The hairs on the neck are reversed, pointing forward. The long, tapered tail is black except at the root, which is brown with a few faint black rings. The ears are well developed and long, and the eyes are larger. The tongue is said to be rougher than in other civets. The claws are fully retractable. The skull is long a narrow with a constricted postorbital area and a very low crest. The zygomatic arch is relatively flat and the postorbital process is short and blunt. The auditory bullae is low and flat. The dentition is rather small and widely spaced  upper incisors, with the lower incisors closer together and forming a continuous row with the canines. The first premolars are relatively well developed, with small accessory cusps; the remaining teeth in the molar tooth row are complex and multi cusped. The forth premolar and first molar in both jaws resemble each other rather more closely than in other civets.

Range Description:

The banded palm civet occurs in the Sundaic region and is found in Peninsular Myanmar, Indonesia (Sipora Island, South Pagi Island, Kalimantan, Sumatra; Holden 2006), Borneo (Azlan 2004; Wells et al. 2005), Peninsular Malaysia (Ratnam et al. 1995; Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004; Laidlaw pers. comm.), and peninsular Thailand (Wozencraft 2005, A.J. Lynam pers. comm). The distribution implies that Brunei may be included in this range but a specific record has not been traced.

The type locality of one race has been reported in Bankachon, Myanmar, but there are no known current records in Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press.). According to Payne et al. (1985) this species has been recorded in many localities in Borneo, and there are many subsequent records from the island including Mount Kinabulu National Park in Borneo, near Poring Hot Spring (600 m asl) by Wells et al. (2005) and Similajau National Park (Duckworth 1997). It is found at elevations up to 1,200 m (Payne et al. 1985).  In Sumatra, Holden (2006) had only a few records, all from lowland primary forest (sea level to a few hundred meters, with a maximum of 800 m) in the region of Kerinci Salbat. Other records may exist from the island and need to be collated. However, these data suggest the species may perhaps be confined to lowlands in Sumatra, and does not occur in hills or mountains.
Countries: Native:
Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatera); Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Thailand


The population status of the banded palm civet is poorly known. Holden (in press) has speculated that this species may be rare where it is found. However, Payne et al (1985) states that it was the second most common viverrid in the forests of Sabah, and it occurs in tall and secondary forests. In the 25 years since the data were gathered to make the assessment of Payne et al. was made, habitat landscape in Sabah has changed greatly, and the banded palm civet's current status in Sabah might therefore differ greatly from prior estimations. In peninsular Malaysia, this species has not been found in secondary forests, but was found in Taman Negara National Park (Kawanishi and Sunquist 2004), indicating populations may also be reduced across the species range in mainland South-east Asia, where forest conversion has been extensive.
Population Trend: Decreasing

 Habitat and Ecology:

Little is known on the ecology of the banded palm civet and further studies are required. This species has been recorded from primary lowland rainforest, but also in disturbed habitat, peat swamp forest and acacia plantations (Ratnam et al. 1995; Azlan, 2004; Wells et al., 2005; Kanchanasaka pers. comm.; B. Giman pers. comm.). In Borneo, it was found at elevations up to 1,200 m (Payne et al., 1985).
It is nocturnal (Lekagul and McNeely 1977). Medway (1969) suggests that it is confined to the ground under tall forest. Davis (1962) found in Borneo that over 90% of its diet was insects, and no stomachs contained fruit or vegetables. All Bornean civets (except Diplogale hosei) have been recorded in disturbed forest areas, though abundance declines in this habitat (Heydon and Bulloh 1996; Colon pers. comm. 2002).
Systems: Terrestrial

Major Threat(s):

 Habitat loss and degradation have been assumed to be major threats to the banded palm civet (Schreiber et al. 1989). Reduction in primary forest habitat has proceeded very fast throughout the lowland Sundaic region in the last 20 years, particularly in the lower altitudes which evidently support the bulk of this species' population (e.g. Birdlife International, 2001; Holmes, 2000; Jepson et al., 2001; McMorrow and Talip, 2001; Lambert and Collar, 2002; Curran et al. 2004; Fuller, 2004; Eames et al. 2005, Aratrakorn et al. 2006; Kinnaird et al. 2003). This has surely lead to steep population declines. In Borneo, the overall density of civets (including the banded palm civet) in logged forests was found to be significantly lower than in primary forests (Heydon and Bulloh 1996). From observation in Thailand there is clear no evidence that the banded palm civet can survive in plantations or other areas outside of evergreen forests (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). Additionally the Mentawi populations are thought to be impacted by economic development as human settlements expand into civet habitat, resulting in conflicts since this species will prey on domestic livestock such as chickens (Schreiber et al. 1989). Hunting and trade are also threats for this species. Because Banded Civet spends a lot of time on the ground, it is more exposed to snares and other traps than are the partly and largely arboreal palm civets. It is hunted in Sarawak for food. In Thailand, this civet is hunted, and in the last five years, there have been less than five live individuals brought to a zoo (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.).

 Conservation Actions:

The banded palm civet is listed on CITES Appendix II. The Mentawai subspecies was listed as Threatened? in the IUCN Action Plan for the Conservation of Mustelids and Viverrids (Schreiber et al. 1989). This species is protected in Malaysia (Azlan pers. comm.), as well as in Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia and in Myanmar. This species was recorded from Mount Kinabalu National Park in Borneo in 2003-04 (Wells et al. 2005), Temengor Forest Reserve in Malaysia by Ratnam et al. (1995), Similajau National Park in Sarawak (Duckworth 1997), and many other protected areas throughout its range (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006).