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Owston’s civets

Project overview

What? Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni)

Why? Owston’s civets are only found in a very restricted range in Vietnam and neighbouring countries; their numbers have been in decline due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, much of which is caused is caused by snares set for other species

How? Carrying out research on reproductive behaviours and supporting breeding programmes both in the UK and Vietnam

Where? Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam

When? 2004–2023

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.

A combined approach

We have been working with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife – a conservation organisation based in Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam – to support Owston’s civets in a number of ways, both in Vietnam and here in the UK.

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Changing attitudes

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.

Civet kitten at Newquay Zoo 2

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.

Learn more about Newquay’s civets

Ground-breaking research

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.