Live civets seized in Cambodia en route to Vietnam

By VnExpress   October 21, 2016 | 01:14 am PT
The cat-like carnivores are used in Vietnam to produce a quirky type of coffee.

A shipment of thirty-five live common palm civets en route to Vietnam was seized in Cambodia's southeastern province of Kandal yesterday, according to The Phnom Penh Post.

The local newspaper quoted Moung Dara, customs chief at the Chrey Thom border-checkpoint, as saying that the small cat-like carnivores were “being kept in cartage [ready] for crossing to Vietnam, and the person [carrying them] escaped”. The civets have been then handed over to the NGO Wildlife Alliance, which plans to release the animals back into the wild.

Civets are commonly hunted for their meat, but are also raised and held in captivity in Vietnam to produce ca phe chon – or coffee that is passed through the civet’s digestive tract before being brewed. Every kilogram of natural civet coffee can command a price of VND36 million ($1600), while farmed civet coffee sells for VND9 million ($400) per kilo.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List lists the common palm civet as being of “least concern”, noting that it has a wide population distribution, despite downward population trends and a “continuing decline of mature individuals”.

Last month, a large-spotted civet, a species that was believed to be extinct in Vietnam, was spotted in the Phong Dien Nature Reserve in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue. Another rare civet, the Owston’s civet, was also seen during the survey.

Both of the species were recategorized on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species from "Vulnerable" to "Endangered" in June 2016.

"Endangered" is the second-highest category of threat on the Red List, and of the approximately 170 species of small carnivores worldwide, only 10 others are ranked as "Endangered" or in the higher category of "Critically Endangered", according to J. W. Duckworth, a senior expert at the IUCN.

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> Vietnam’s nascent network of animal rescue volunteers seeks coalition

> Endangered civets spotted in central Vietnam

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