The Small Carnivore Conservation Centre at Cuc Phuong, Viet Nam
To rescue, breed and increase awareness of small carnivores in Vietnam
The Owston's civet, Chrotogale owstoni, s a small civet native to the forests of northern Vietnam, Laos, and southern China. Highly sought for its alleged traditional medicinal properties and its meat, the Owston's civet is threatened by the combined efects of illegal hunting and a significant reduction in natural habitat. The Owston's civet is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (2000) and given high conservation priority in all of its known range countries. In Vietnam, the species is protected under the wildlife protection law. However, its exact conservation status is incompletely known, as little research has been conducted on this species in the wild.
The Owston's civet is a flagship species for highlighting the illegal trade in wildlife, which threatens almost all species of small carnivores in the Indochina region. Trade levels are thought to be at an all time high as a result of a growing demand. Recent surveys have shown that small carnivores make one of the largest proportions of the wildlife meat trade in Vietnam. With no differentiation made between species traded for meat, common species and a number of globally threatened species are at risk. Current conservation activities in Vietnam rarely take small carnivore conservation into account due to the lack of awareness on their status and the lack of reliable data on their distribution and conservation requirements.
In addition to small feline species, Viet Nam is home to 24 species of small carnivores, including four species of weasels or martens, four badger species, four otter species, ten civet species and two mongoose species.
The Small Carnivore Conservation Centre at Cuc Phuong was established in 1995 as a breeding and research facility for Owston's civet. Over the years, the program became ever more aware of the plight of all Vietnam's small carnivores and the lack of conservation actions being carried out. The program developed a range of activities targeting the conservation of more species of small carnivores, including provision of education materials, capacity building exercises for forest rangers and zoo keepers, rescue-rehab-placement of small carnivores, captive and field research. This program became the Small Carnivore Conservation Centre (SCC) in 2005.
In December 2004, the first six Owston's civets were sent to zoos abroad under a Breeding Loan Program. The recipients were the Paradise Wildlife Park, Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens and Newquay Zoo (all UK). In 2005, the program continues to raise awareness both nationally and internationally on the plight and conservation of small carnivores. It is further developing facilities for the rescue and rehabilitation of Vietnam's most threatened small carnivores, continues to train forest rangers in identification and protection of small carnivores, is compiling a national status review on the distribution and status of small carnivores in Vietnam, is developing more ex situ conservation programs for more species, and is designing ecology and behaviour studies of small carnivores in the wild.
WAZA Conservation Project 05010 is supported by the Newquay Zoo, Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, Paradise Wildlife Park, Shaldon Wildlife Trust, Fota Wildlife Park, Marwell (all United Kingdom), Cleveland Metropark Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Nashville Zoo (all USA), Melbourne Zoo (Australia), ARAZPA, the Aquarium and Zoo Facilities Association (AZFA), and Wildlife at Risk (WAR).
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