In 2009, a pioneering civet research project was initiated by National University of Singapore (NUS) and Night Safari to understand urban civet ecology and mitigate conflict when complaints resulted from civet-human conflict in Siglap/Opera Estate were received. Xu Weiting from the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (Supervisor: Mr N. Sivasothi) investigated the activity pattern of urban civets through camera trapping and visual observations and also their diet. The honours thesis also looked into the public awareness and attitudes towards these urban civets.
The research on the common palm civet was continued by Fung Tze Kwan, from the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore (Supervisor: Mr N. Sivasothi), who conducted the first structured study on the little known diets of these common palm civets and compared their diets in urban and forested environments of Singapore. The study also examined the gut passage time of seeds in captive common palm civets and the viability and germination rate of the egested seeds, which shed some light on their potential ecological role as a seed disperser. After her Honours thesis, Tze Kwan embarked on her MSc in 2013 and continues to further the civet research by conducting a year long diet and gut passage study, coupled with a GPS telemetry study on the home range of civets in Pulau Ubin.
In the past few years, there have been various honours students who has conducted civet-related projects, from civet biology to the autecology of plants which the civet feeds on. Below is the list of projects all supervised by Mr N. Sivasothi:
- 2015 – Quek Zheng Bin Randolph (Hons) – A preliminary investigation into the autecology of the clustered fishtail palm Caryota mitis Lour 1790.
- 2015 – Yeo Qi Wei Jocelyn (UROPS) – The influence of the common palm civet on post-masting seed distribution and growth of the False Olive (Champereia manillana) in Pulau Ubin
- 2014 – Nurliyana Omar (UROPS) – Resource availability of the clumping fishtail palm, Caryota mitis, for the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) along the trail edges of Pulau Ubin, Singapore
- 2013 – Yeo Hui Fen Genevieve (Hons) – The population status and diet of the Common Palm Civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus (Pallas, 1777) in the Wessex – Tanglin Halt environs
Outreach & rescue work
Since graduation, Weiting and Tze Kwan have been giving public talks about the civet, based on the research on the common palm civet conducted over the past five years. As active members of the NUS Toddycats!, they have participated in many exhibitions and roadshows, talking to members of public to increase public awareness of civets in Singapore. A series of activities is being initiated to introduce the public to Singapore’s native wildlife and first-hand biodiversity experience such as the Kid’s Musang Watch with Cicada Tree Eco-Place which aims to educate the public and increase awareness of civets in the local community. In addition, the team has also been working with organisations such as ACRES to facilitate civet rescue work and rehabilitation.
It is hoped that this civet conservation work will bridge nature with urbanites once again and promote co-existence between animals and mankind.
View our full list of activities here.