The Civet Project is thrilled to see in the new year with a new partner: Save Vietnam’s Wildlife!
In November 2023 our team headed to southeast Asia to trace the civet coffee phenomenon from bean to cup, to understand the ways that civet coffee is driving civet declines. Specifically, we travelled to Vietnam, the second largest coffee exporter in the world, and the last remaining stronghold of the endangered Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni).
Whilst there, the team were lucky enough to spend time with staff and animals from Save Vietnam’s Wildlife (SVW). SVW is not only working at the forefront of conservation, having removed a staggering 20,735 snares from four of Vietnam’s national parks since 2018, but it is also the home of the world’s first captive breeding program for rescued Owston’s civet.
Our team were delighted to be offered the opportunity to glimpse these elusive and beautiful animals and to learn more about the work that SVW are undertaking to rescue, rehabilitate, and release Vietnam’s wildlife.
Whilst on our visit, the team learned about the important work underway to expand the Owston’s civet breeding program facilities, the dedicated care being provided to rescued wildlife including otters, pangolins and civets, and the conservation efforts happening every day to protect Vietnam’s natural habitats.
What is Civet Coffee?
Known as the world's most expensive coffee, civet coffee is produced through the civets digestive tract. Although it traditionally involved the collecting of wild civet scat, a very rare find, its explosion onto the international consumer and tourism market in the early 2000’s has led to civet coffee being produced on a commercial scale throughout southeast Asia.
What does this mean? It means the capture, caging, and force feeding of civets throughout their natural range. Civet coffee farming is known to have significant animal welfare impacts for the civets involved, yet there is little known about the additional and far reaching consequences of civet coffee on sustainability, conservation, environmental and human health. This is why we set out to investigate the full picture through our upcoming documentary film.
How are SVW tackling civet coffee?
SVW has conducted extensive research into civet coffee farming, surveying over 50 farms to assess their impact on animal welfare and conservation.
SVW has also been instrumental in civet rescues (the largest of which was the rescue of more than 100 farmed masked palm civets). Of the 145 masked palm civets rescued by SVW since 2014, 124 have been released back into the wild!
Not all rescued civets are able to be released however. For those unable to be safely reintroduced, they are permanently cared for as resident ambassador animals at Save Vietnam's Wildlife centre in the Cuc Phuong National Park. The Civet Project team couldn't help but fall in love with Hoi An, a rather elegant and curious binturong.
A new partnership for civets!
Having followed the impressive work of SVW for many years, our team was excited to meet SVW staff, volunteers, and resident animals. Whilst there, SVW staff kindly facilitated our documentary filming requirements, and they even kindly set up camera traps to film the nocturnal and secretive Owston’s civet, without prolonged human disturbance.
As part of our new partnership, SVW will be joining The Civet Project for the first ever World Civet Day on the 4th April which will be celebrated via a social media campaign, in person and online events, and the launch of the documentary. We will also be sharing each other's campaigns into the foreseeable future, to ensure that the protection of civets is high up on the global conservation agenda!
On speaking of their visit and the emergence of this partnership, Jes Hooper, founder of The Civet Project Foundation explained:
“Seeing the wonderful work the SVW are achieving in protecting the natural environment and rescuing wildlife in need, was truly inspiring and we are beyond excited for this new partnership between The Civet Project and Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife is at the heart of civet conservation in Vietnam and we are honoured to have the opportunity to support their efforts. We cannot wait to share their instrumental work with our supporters.”
How you can help
If you would like to support SVW’s amazing work, you can: