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 Post subject: The Golden Palm Civet
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:38 am 
The Golden Palm Civet: endemic and endangered

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The Golden Palm civet is infamous for its ravishing golden brown coloured cape among the other Paradoxurus species. A fully grown mature individual is about 95cm long. Being omnivorous their diet consists of a vast variety of food ranging from fruits like bananas and mangos to small birds and bantam mammals like rats.

By Rashmini de Silva
@ DM / Saturday, June 02, 2007


Representing the viverridae family the golden palm civet (Paradoxurus zeylonensis) is one of the endemic and endangered species of Sri Lanka.

Being exposed to numerous threats in the wild, inevitably the golden palm civet was seized by the Red List and is now classified under the threatened species category. The population of this species is minimizing rapidly in wet zone forests like Sinharaja and Wasgamuwa where they are most likely to be found.

The Golden Palm civet is infamous for its ravishing golden brown coloured cape among the other Paradoxurus species. A fully grown mature individual is about 95cm long. Being omnivorous their diet consists of a vast variety of food ranging from fruits like bananas and mangos to small birds and bantam mammals like rats.

Like other palm civets the Golden Palm civet is known to be arboreal, they spend the day sleeping in large hollow tree branches. This species is nocturnal and solitary except throughout the mating season and at some stage when the offspring are being raised. Reproduction occurs in the latter months of a year, and it is presumed that females give birth to more that one litter with two or three young annually. “Not much is known about the golden palm civet’s natural behaviour, reproduction and life cycle because this species is extremely rare in the wild and we hardly even get reports and records of sightings” said Mr. Nadun Kushan, an assistant curator of the national zoological gardens, Dehiwala.

In wild habitats the golden palm civet is victimized by so many aspects according to environmental lawyer Mr. Jagath Gunawardhana. “Habitat destruction still is the principal reason for the rapid reduction of these civets. And also a significant number of individuals are hunted down by domestic dogs living in houses built in forest patches” he added.

Many villagers deem these pole cat look-alikes as pests because they slyly snatch chicks from farms in rural areas and also commove the fermentation of toddy by feasting on the coconut sap. Another reason for the deceleration of the population of this civet is, the survival rate of young specimens being dreadfully low. Predominately the young cubs are devoured by various kinds of predators varying from species of reptiles to birds.

Responding to this serious rival for extinction of the golden palm civet the national zoological gardens of Sri Lanka initiated a breeding and conservation programme in 2005 lead by deputy director of the zoo, Mrs. Dhammika Malsinghe which is highly succesful. In this ex-situ conservation process, the survival rate is exceptionally high since all the essential nutritional requirements, medical attention veterinary care and other prerequisites are rendered on time and safety from external sources is guaranteed. Presently there are six specimens present in the national zoological gardens. They are kept in a special area unavailable for the public to view for various precautions. “So far there have been three litters born here. And the last litter of two cubs was born five weeks ago. The staff here makes immense effort in order to conserve these animals because we know how crucial it is to preserve endemic species like this for the future generations” added Mr. Dhammika Padmaraj, a caretaker in the nursery of the zoo.

According to Assistant curator Mr. Nadun Kushan most of the specimens of golden palm civets were found from Knuckles and Sinharaja areas. “We still haven’t released any specimens to the wild because this breeding programme is still advancing at experimental level. We are planning to introduce some specimens to the areas they were found in, and where their sub species are present” he added.

Raising awareness, protecting and conserving the golden palm civet is crucial. Therefore taking the necessary steps to enlarge the minuscule population remaining here is vital for we do not want the doors of extinction to imprison this fascinating creature by the end of this century.


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