Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica)

Range Description:

This species is currently known to occur in South and Central China (Wang and Fuller, 2001, 2003), Hong Kong (Suen, 2002), most of India (Mudappa, 2002), Lao PDR (Duckworth, 1997), Myanmar (Su Su, 2005), Thailand (Rabinowitz, 1991; Austin and Tewes, 1999), Viet Nam (Roberton 2007), Cambodia (J. L. Walston pers. comm.) and Sri Lanka (Ratnayeke pers. comm.). No search has been made for recent records from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Peninsular Malaysia, Java or Bali (Indonesia), areas where it was historically recorded, mostly commonly. It was formerly known from Singapore but its current status there is unclear (B. P. Y.H. Lee pers. comm.). Corbet and Hill (1992) include all of Sumatra for the species' distribution range, but only four individuals are known, all from one locality in the far north. Sody (1931) described these as a distinct subspecies, Viverricula malaccensis atchinensis. Other records from Sumatra have not been seen, and it is suggested to restrict its range to the north (Meijaard pers. comm.), and the lack of recent records from Sumatra is puzzling (W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). It has been introduced to Madagascar (Lekagul and McNeely 1977; Zhang 1997), Socotra (Yemen; Pocock 1939) and Zanzibar (Tanzania; W. Duckworth in litt. 2006). The current status of these introduced populations is poorly known.
Countries: Native:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Vietnam


 The population status of this species is less well known that that of some other Southeast Asian small carnivores, because recent survey efforts have mostly not been appropriate for assessing the species. This is best shown by records from Myanmar. Su Su (2005) found that it was the second most common species of small carnivore recorded in Hlawga Wildlife Park in Myanmar, a secondary small isolate of semi-natural habitat in the outskirts of Yangon, a former capital city, subject to barely controlled snaring and other forms of encroachment, where only one other species of small carnivore persists in significant numbers. Recent camera-trapping showed that it is also abundant (by far the most frequently photographed nocturnal small carnivore) in Alungdaw Kathapa national park (Thaint Thaint Myo pers. comm. 2007), although intensive camera-trapping for Tigers a few years earlier at this site had recorded the species only twice. This reflected the focus of the Tiger survey on little-disturbed evergreen forest, a habitat little-used by the species in South-east Asia, rather than the edge, disturbed and secondary areas the focus of the latter survey (Than Zaw et al. in press). The habitat degradation and hunting patterns of these two sites in Myanmar where the species is common are representative of much of non-Sundaic Southeast Asia, and incidental records from various other sites (e.g. Duckworth and Robichaud 2005) imply large populations in total, although it is likely that in Vietnam and Lao at least populations will have been somewhat depleted by snaring. This factor (the tendency for camera-trap surveys to go to the least encroached habitat blocks) has certainly much reduced the number of recent records of the species from South-east Asia. In Cambodia, where more camera-trapping has taken place in deciduous forest areas, it is commonly camera trapped (J. L. Walston pers. comm.). The same factor was suspected to be responsible for the relatively few recent records from Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1999), and may also have generated earlier remarks such as in Thailand, this species is rather rare (Lekagul and McNeely 1977); in fact, it is common in the degraded parts of Khao Yai national park but difficult to fin within the forest itself (J. W. Duckworth and A. Nettelbeck pers. comm.). It is also abundant over large areas of India. It is common in deciduous forests of Dak Lak, Vietnam (Le Xuan Canh et al. 1997) and more widely in the country (Roberton 2007). No information has been sought for the Sundaic populations except for Sumatra, where the species status has always been unclear; no recent records were traced.
Population Trend: Stable

 Habitat and Ecology:

This species has been recorded in semi-evergreen and deciduous forest, mixed deciduous forest, bamboo forest, scrubby areas, grasslands and riverine habitat (Duckworth 1997, Le Xuan Canh et al. 1997; Mudappa, 2002; Su Su, 2005). This species is nocturnal and mostly terrestrial (Mudappa, 2002). An adult male was radio-tracked in Thailand and had a home range of 3.1 km˛ (Rabinowitz, 1991). In Lao PDR, this species is found in Semi-evergreen (rarely) and deciduous forest, including adjacent degraded areas (Duckworth et al. 1999). In other countries it is tolerant of habitat degradation and lives in proximity to human communities (Lekagul and McNeely 1988) and an active avoidance of closed evergreen forest was shown in Myanmar (Than Zaw et al. in press; see ‘population’). In Thailand, it is mostly found in long grass or scrub, particularly in areas near villages, where it may live in drains, outhouses, and roofs, eating domestic poultry (Su Su, 2005) as well as rats, mice, birds, snakes, fruit, and roots, as well as carrion (Lekagul and McNeely 1988). It has litters of three to five, and the life span is eight to nine years (Lekagul and McNeely 1988). In Myanmar this species was recorded from both mixed deciduous forest and bamboo forest (Su Su, 2005). This species was rarely seen in the undisturbed rainforests of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) in India, and was mostly seen near garbage dumps (Mudappa, 2002). In KMTR they were not camera-trapped frequently in rainforest, but were the most camera-trapped species in grasslands and in a riverine habitat (Mudappa, 2002). This species is nocturnal, and mostly terrestrial and insectivorous (Mudappa, 2002). Wang and Fuller (2001) conducted a study on the ecology of this species near Taohong Village in northern Jiangxi Province, Southeastern China, from April 1993 to November 1994. Wang and Fuller (2003) conducted a study on the food habits of this species in a rural agricultural area of Southeastern China (Taohong Village, Jiangxi Province) by analyzing its scats, the study was conducted between June 1992 and November 1994, and found that this species ate mostly mammals, with moderate insects and plants.
Systems: Terrestrial

 Major Threat(s):

The extent to which extensive habitat loss and degradation are a threat to this species remains unclear as in most or all of its range areas it is more common in altered landscapes than in closed-canopy old-growth evergreen forest. This species is hunted for its meat and scent (Gupta 2004) in some portions of its range which potentially might reduce populations. Ground-dwelling small carnivores are exposed to hunting, particularly with snares. This is occurring in much of its range, including Lao PDR (Duckworth et al. 1997) and Thailand, with snaring found even in some protected areas (Kanchanasaka pers. comm.). There has been an increased demand for civet meat in Chinese and Vietnamese markets (Bell et al. 2004, Lynam et al. 2005). In India animals are caught for captivity for collection of ‘civet’, a fixative used internationally in the perfume industry and domestically for various purposes; even in areas of heavy collection, the animals remain common in the degraded forest, scrub and agricultural landscapes covering most of peninsular India. There is no evidence (at least from the non-Sundaic parts of its range) that it is not well able to survive high combined pressures of forest conversion and harvesting. The converse seems to be true: it remains more common than most other species of small carnivore in heavily encroached areas of southern China (M.W.N. Lau pers. comm.), as it does in heavily encroached Myanmar (Su Su 2005).

 Conservation Actions:

 In Myanmar, this species is totally protected under the Wildlife Act of 1994 (Su, 2005). This species is listed on Category II of the China Wildlife Protection Law (1988) (Li et al, 2000) and as ‘Vulnerable’ in the China Red List (Wang and Xie, 2004). It is listed on CITES Appendix III (India). It has been recorded in many protected areas (Duckworth, 1997; Mudappa, 2002; Su Su, 2005).