In an exhilarating discovery, a seldom-seen Asian palm civet, a nocturnal creature belonging to the Viverridae family, has been spotted in the picturesque Chatra district of Jharkhand. This revelation has ignited excitement among wildlife experts and forest officials, given that the species is categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Meet the Asian Palm Civet
Renowned as the toddy cat, the Asian palm civet is a petite carnivore renowned for its diet of fruits, insects, rodents, and birds. Its striking features include a distinctive black and white mask-like face, a lengthy tail, and a coat of grey-brown fur. While it calls tropical and subtropical forests across South and Southeast Asia home, its population faces a concerning decline due to factors such as habitat loss, hunting, and poaching.
A Camera Trap Discovery
This enigmatic creature made its debut through the lens of a camera trap thoughtfully positioned by the forest department within the Kanhari forest range of Chatra. Two captivating images of the civet were captured on September 15 and 16, 2023. Confirmation of the species’ identity was promptly sought from wildlife experts at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
Rakesh Kumar, the divisional forest officer of Chatra, expressed his elation, stating, “This is a very rare and exciting finding. The Asian palm civet is not commonly seen in this region. It indicates that the forest habitat is rich and diverse, and supports a variety of wildlife species.”
Kumar further disclosed that the forest department intends to conduct an exhaustive survey to evaluate the civet’s distribution and status in the area. Measures will be implemented to safeguard its habitat and mitigate potential threats. He earnestly called upon local residents to collaborate with forest officials and promptly report any sightings of this intriguing animal.
Beyond the Civet’s Role
Notably, the Asian palm civet has garnered fame for its involvement in the production of kopi luwak, one of the world’s most expensive coffees. The civet consumes coffee cherries and, through digestion, imparts unique flavors to the beans. These beans are later harvested from the civet’s feces and processed into coffee. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that this practice has raised concerns of unethical treatment of civets in certain regions, where they are subjected to captivity and force-fed coffee cherries.