The mysterious Malabar civet is so endangered that it is unknown if there are any more alive. The Malabar civet is one of 5-20 species of civet, a small nocturnal mammal with a long body and short legs. These ground-dwelling creatures live solitarily in hollows and eat small animals and plants. The Malabar civet, or Viverra civettina, lives in the Western Ghats of India, and is extremely endangered. They are similar to another type of civet that also lives in southern India, called the small Indian civet; both have a banded tail and black and white markings. At first glance it is hard to tell these two apart, but the Malabar civet is bigger, has a crest of black hair down its spine, and has a ‘necklace’ of black and white bands. Civets, including the Malabar civet, create a secretion called ‘civet’ that they use to mark their territories. This civet is harvested and used by humans for many things.
Why Are They Endangered?
The Malabar civet is on the IUCN red list as critically endangered. It was marked as extinct in 1978, before a few skins in the 1980s and some sightings changed it. However, since then it has not been caught on camera, and there have not been many animals in museums. Without live animals and only a few museum specimens, the only evidence we have for the survival of the Malabar civet is sightings. If they still exist, there probably not that many, and they probably live in small isolated populations. The main reason the Malabar civet is so endangered is habitat loss and hunting. Malabar civet used to live in the forests and swamps, but now, a lot of that habitat is gone and the civets live in degraded forests and cashew plantations. Much of the habitat they do have is not as suitable for them as it was previously. They’ll need a lot of help to survive.
The degrading forest in Kerala, a state in the south of India, and other places, affects many plants and animals. It also affects people. We have to try and save the forests, which, if done well and sustainable, could help the animals, plants, and humans.
What Can You Do?
You can raise awareness for the Malabar civet, because not many people know about them. You can also donate to organizations dedicated to helping endangered animals.
“The Elusive Malabar Civet.” Conservation India, 18 July 2020 www.conservationindia.org/articles/the-elusive-malabar-civet.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Civet.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 5 Oct. 2017, www.britannica.com/animal/civet-mammal-Viverridae-family.
“Malabar Civet.” Edge of Existence, Zoological Society of London, 18 July 2020, http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/malabar-civet/
*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.