Green Minute News

The nocturnal and rarely sighted Asian Palm Civet decided to give a visit to a verdant residential colony in the IT hub of Bengaluru. Excited conservationists said despite the urbanization and rampant expansion oflinear structures, the city still retained some of its forest patches with its varied wildlife.

Belonging to the Viverridae family, the Asian Palm Civet is a small civet and is commonly known as the toddy cat. Recently, a software engineer sighted this mammal in the verandah of his house. Praveen Prasad who lives in RR Nagar sighted this animal at 3 am. Highly scared, he said it was moving fast and upwards on the grilled portion of the verandah.

Prasad told Green Minute, “Due to constant barking of dogs in the night, I came out of the house and saw to my amazement a strange and unfamiliar creature moving away in panic. I thought it was a mongoose. Having an elongated body, it had a prominent long tail. However, it disappeared as it had appeared in a jiffy.”

A mottled hairy grayish-black body, the palm civet has a very long tail. It has a white mask on the forehead, small white patches under the eyes and even the nostrils. Palm civets are a Schedule-2 animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Native to south and south east Asia, they are known to live on trees as well as on land.

The Asian Palm Civets usually feed on palm flower sap which after fermentation turns into toddy and therefore, they are called as toddy cats. Although they are known as toddy cats they are in fact, not cats. They are known to eat the fruits and flowers of palms, mangoes and coffee in their natural habitats.

Unfortunately, the civets are facing threats in south east Asian countries and they are captured to make a special kind of coffee known as Kopi Luwak. This is a very expensive variety of coffee and is produced when the coffee beans ingested by civets are excreted in the form of fermented seeds which are utilized to make the civet coffee. With drinking of Kopi Luwak becoming popular, the civets are captured and fed coffee beans to mass-produce this variety of coffee.

And, it is not just this reason, Palm civets are hunted in Indonesia, Cambodia but also relished for its meat and other purposes in China, Vietnam and other countries. Since the animal is very elusive and secretiv, not much is known about its behavior. It is said to be a predatory animal but at the same time they too fall prey to other predators in their own world.

Normally palm civets live on trees and prefer fruit and Ficus family trees. Their eating habits vary from feeding on rodents to fruits. According to Bengaluru (urban) honorary wildlife warden, A Prasanna Kumar despite its presence in four forest patches of the city, the Palm Civet has hardly been seen in the city.

He adds, “We can find them in Turahalli forests, green patches of University of Bangalore, GKVK campus and Hessarghatta. We are fortunate that the city is rich in many species of mammals and reptiles and they have been thriving despite the rampant development activities in the last few decades.”

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