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Small Indian Civet

IUCN Status Globally: Near threatened (NT)

Status in Pakistan: Protected from hunting in most of its habitat

Scientific Name: Viverricula indica

Family: Viverridae

Order: Carnivora

Class: Mammalia

Population Trend: Stable

Oriental Civet, Small Indian Civet PC: http:// www.indianaturewatch.net/Local Names pf this species are Mushk Billa or Kasturi Billa. However, these are commonly known as Small Indian Civet or the Oriental Civets. Small Indian Civet is an alert and attractive cat-like animal with a pointed, cylindrical muzzle. The body is sandy buff in colour with black spots arranged in horizontal lines. Its claws are sharp, well-developed but non-retractable. It has a scent gland and therefore is locally referred to as Mushk Billa i.e. musk cat. Adults weigh about 3 kg and are about 45 – 63 cm in length. The tail is around 42 cm long.

 

Description: Small Indian Civet is an alert and attractive cat-like animal with a pointed, cylindrical muzzle. The body is sandy buff in colour with black spots arranged in horizontal lines. Its claws are sharp, well-developed but non-retractable. It has a scent gland and therefore is locally referred to as Mushk Billa i.e. musk cat. Adults weigh about 3 kg and are about 45 – 63 cm in length. The tail is around 42 cm long.

 

Habitat and Ecology: It is a nocturnal animal and spends most of the day time sleeping underground in burrows. It prefers to hunt near human habitations and therefore can be found near villages. Being omnivorous in diet, it digs up soil borne insects, lizards and rodents and can climb trees to reach fruit or birds’ nests.

Small Indian Civet has been recorded in a wide range of habitats, particularly in degraded and fragmented landscapes (including rainforest fragments, tea and coffee plantations), and in less encroached areas, in deciduous forest, bushland, grassland, riverine habitats, marshes, and inactive Melaleuca plantations on peat soil.

It is a nocturnal animal and spends most of the day time sleeping underground in burrows. It prefers to hunt near human habitations and therefore can be found near villages. Being omnivorous in diet, it digs up soil borne insects, lizards and rodents and can climb trees to reach fruit or birds’ nests.

 

Distribution across Pakistan: Small Indian Civet occurs in Pakistan (Indus valley eastwards), most of Indus and recently confirmed to extend north of the Pir Pinjal, Kashmir.

Small Indian Civet are abundant in the Indus ecoregion which is identified amongst the 40 biologically richest ecoregions in the world. It harbors riverine forests along the Indus River, mangrove forests in the coastal areas while desert ecosystems occupy the periphery of the ecoregion. Indus Ecoregion covers approximately 65 per cent of the province of Sindh and occupies 18 districts of Sindh while a small northwestern part of the ecoregion extends slightly into Balochistan. Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica) Indus Ecoregion is facing multiple threats such as habitat loss, water scarcity, vanishing of key species like Small Indian Civet, destruction of forests, and disappearance of migratory birds.

An Indian civet cat, known locally as pooneh billi in the Cholistan Wildlife Sanctuary. Small Indian Civet is listed in the third schedule Protected Animals, i.e. Animals, which shall neither be hunted nor possessed. The are also listed as protected in AN ACT to consolidate the laws relating to protection, preservation, conservation and management of wildlife and Biodiversity in the Province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 

Feeding and Breeding Patterns: Consumes all types of food like fruits, insects, arthropods, lizards, small birds and mammals. Being nocturnal it often steals domestic poultry to feed on. Due to this the villagers regard this animal as their enemy. Breeding takes place at any time during the year and the litter size is 3 – 5.  An Indian civet cat, known locally as pooneh billi

 

References: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

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