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82. Malabar Civet

Viverra civettina


The Malabar civet is possibly one of the Western Ghats’ rarest and most threatened mammals.

This small, dog like carnivore has been pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting and habitat loss. The Malabar civet is in the Viverra genus, with 4 extant species within it, one of five genera in the Viverrinae subfamily that comprises of civets, genets and linsangs. Once widespread in the Western Ghats, the Malabar civet was declared possibly extinct in 1978. Although it was rediscovered nine years later, it has never been photographed and there has been no published proof of its continued survival for over a decade. If the species survives at all, it is likely to be as a series of isolated relic populations, largely confined to thickets in cashew nut plantations.

  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Viverridae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 1-1.25m
  • Weight: 8-9kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.18 (?)
ED Score: 10.11 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is endemic to the Western Ghats of India, being recorded in southern India from Kanyakumariin in the extreme south, to Honnavar in Karnataka in the north. However, as it has lost almost its entire primary habitat, it is likely that the species is now represented by relic populations in sub-optimal habitats along the foothills and lower slopes of the Western Ghats.

Habitat and Ecology

The Malabar civet once inhabited lowland forests, lowland swamp and riparian forests. However, now that natural forests have disappeared, the species now appears to be largely confined to thickets in cashew plantations and to highly degraded lowland forests in northern Kerala. Little is known about the ecology of this species. Local people report that the species is nocturnal, with individuals foraging in the valleys at night and retreating to the scrub forests and cashew plantations by day. They likely feed on small animals, eggs and some vegetable matter.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Wood plantations Renewable energy Hunting Gathering

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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