SLWCS Field Notes

The Rescuing of Civette
Ravi Corea
May 06, 2017

It was Anura at Dickson’s Garage who had first mentioned to Sampath about the civet cat who had been found orphaned by a family he knew who lived in Dabagoda – a small village off Kadugannawa which is on the way to Kandy. They had lovingly reared the little civet to adulthood wanting it to live free. Unfortunately the neighborhood they lived was not the ideal for a civet cat that had got used to people. Their attempts to let it go were not successful due to the numerous feral and stray dogs that lived in their village. Civet cats are also notorious chicken raiders and this was a major concern as well. By the time Anura spoke to Sampath, the civet cat has been living a safe but solitary existence in a 2 x 3 cage for over two years!

The SLWCS Field House has been a half way home for many such animals over the past two decades—providing a second chance to many wild animals to live free who were otherwise destined to live and die in captivity.

The SLWCS team consisting of Ravi, Chinthaka, Sampath and Loi made a detour through Kandy to pick up the lonely civet. Loi and Adele Nguyen are one of the largest benefactors of SLWCS and this was Loi’s first visit to Sri Lanka. It was also a good induction to Loi how a routine airport pickup and travel to our field house could deviate into an effort to save some unfortunate animal. Little did we realize how challenging it was going to be!


Civette had been living in this cage for two years

The town of Kadugannawa located close to the hill country cultural city of Kandy is located in the central mountain massif with steep hills, sharp inclines and long drops to verdant valleys below. And not surprisingly the house where the civet lived was located off a very narrow road sharply inclined down that our long wheel base Land Cruiser could hardly fit. It was Sampath’s driving skills that ensured the Cruiser did not slip into one of the deep ditches that lined the road or fall off the steep side of the road onto a house below. The locals vowed that there was ample room for our long vehicle to turn around at the bottom of the road which turned out to be their version of the truth—basically there was no way our vehicle could have turned around in the tiny Cul-de-sac we ended up in.

So leaving the rescue operations aside temporarily we all got down to extricating our stuck vehicle back to the main road because otherwise let alone rescuing a civet none of us would have made it to Wasgamuwa either.

It was a herculean task that fell on Sampath to reverse the huge Land Cruiser up the sharply inclined narrow road all the way to the main road. With much shouting, yelling, miming, dramatic gestures, near misses and skillful maneuvering on the part of Sampath we managed to get the Cruiser back on the main road.

The Cruiser was unable to turn around in the tight space

Reversing all the way up to the main road

It was with a huge sigh of relief we now got back to the task of getting the civet cat (now named Civette since it was a female) and her cage into the vehicle. To prevent as little stress as possible to Civette we closed up the front wire mesh with a sack to create a dark and calm environment for her.

We carried the cage up to the Cruiser and then found the cage was too tall to fit inside the vehicle. A saw was hurriedly found and the hand grabs on the top of the cage were sawed off to make the cage fit. With the darkened cage well secured inside we said hurried goodbyes and set off immediately to Wasgamuwa.

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Covering the front of the cage to create a calm environment.

Preparing the cage for transportation

Testing to make sure the cage was secure

Secure in the Cruiser and heading to a new life of freedom

During the conversations with the people who had taken care of Civette we found out that they had been providing her a diet consisting mostly bananas, bread and milk. Civets are omnivorous and feed on fruits, vegetables and meat. It became apparent that if Civette was to survive freedom then she should be made accustomed to a diet that is as varied as her natural diet would be. So now we have started the process to educate Civette to eat like a civet and she has proved to be a quick learner chucking down chicken, fruit and veggies with equal gusto!

Two of our volunteers, mother and daughter Heather Browning and Bronwyn Green from New Zealand seeing the very small cage that Civette had to live, purchased a cage and made it larger and refurbished it to provide her with more space and enrichment. The new cage provides her sufficient space to clamber up and down a tree branch and sleep on top of it, which are natural behaviors since civet cats are well adapted to climb and live on trees.

Soon Civette will be heading into the great unknown where freedom, a possible mate or mates and motherhood awaits her. We are all looking forward to it with great anticipation!

Heather Browning and Bronwyn Green

The new cage arriving on a tractor trailer

Moving the new cage to make it larger and roomier

Photo Credits:

Chinthaka Weerasinghe/SLWCS
Ravi Corea/SLWCS

Big, rumbling thanks to our Corporate Partners for their kind support and to everyone who has donated and supported our wildlife conservation efforts!