An elusive species
Despite being described by science more than 100 years ago, very little has been recorded about the endangered Owston’s civet and how it lives in the wild. Wild Planet Trust has spent several years studying their habits and reproductive behaviours to understand more about the species.
In Vietnam itself, we’ve enabled Save Vietnam’s Wildlife to carry out a range of research projects and successfully lobbied to ban trade in Owston’s civets in the country. In addition, they carry out education projects to protect Owston’s civets, such as campaigns to reduce the consumption of wild meat (including civets) and to stop the production of ‘civet coffee’.
We have also provided funds to train local staff to work in Cuc Phuong National Park and the breeding centre there. Staff at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme facilitate breeding programmes and rehabilitate rescued and injured civets, along with other wildlife. In 2019, Wild Planet Trust supported Save Vietnam’s Wildlife and other partners to develop and publish the official Conservation Strategy for Owston’s Civets.
Success at Newquay Zoo
In 2005, two Owston’s civets were allowed out of Vietnam for the very first time in order to form a breeding pair at Newquay Zoo. Since then, we have had great success in breeding the species and have been able to use our findings to support the activities taking place at Cuc Phuong National Park.
Research involving Newquay Zoo’s civet population is helping to shed more light on the species, their mating habits and their reproductive health, in order to help ensure their continued survival.
This research has been conducted using a range of methods, from ultrasound to the assessment of sperm samples and hormone levels using faecal samples. Further sperm samples have been taken and cryopreserved for use in the future if needed. These sample will be kept by Nature’s SAFE: a biobank that stores living cells of animals – like Owston’s civets – that are at risk of extinction.
The project is a collaboration between Wild Planet Trust, specialists from the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Reproductive Management Group, ECOlifes and Nature’s SAFE.