Supposed return of the Malabar Civet during the COVID-19 pandemic, a mammal so rare that some believed it had gone extinct

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The Malabar civet is a Critically Endangered mesopredator from southwestern India. It has not been seen since the 90s and a subsequent attempt to locate individuals in 2014 failed to find any. Some people assume that it is extinct.

As of this morning, I saw this post appear in my Reddit feed that shared the gif I posted above and was immediately intrigued. The prospect of an e trembly rare species resurfacing during a lock-down is exciting. However, I am skeptical.

I have found no other news sites covering this sighting, and I would expect something like this to make at least a few sensational headlines. I do not know where this footage was taken. Additionally, civets can be difficult to identify from a distance. I will attempt to find diagnostic descriptions of this species later today, but in the meantime, what do you think? Is this a legitimate Malabar Civet?

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Note that I accidentally posted this topic before finishing it. It is fully written now.

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Seems that it’s not a Malabar Civet, but rather one that’s commonly found in urban areas, as stated by the Indian Forest Service: https://twitter.com/ParveenKaswan/status/1243120753614008320?s=19

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Other commenters on Reddit have indicated this is most likely the locally common Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica)

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Malabar civets have thick white and black neck stripes and the spots don’t coalesce into stripes. This is Viverricula indica.

Link to full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmNn8etDoCw

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(Also, the Malabar civet is questionably a real species, see https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258699853_Mystery_or_myth_a_review_of_history_and_conservation_status_of_the_Malabar_Civet_Viverra_civettina_Blyth_1862)

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There’ve been quite a few false or misleading social media posts about wildlife “returning” during the pandemic, I’d take anything of the sort with a large grain of salt. Snopes weighed in on this one: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/dolphins-swans-italy-lockdown/

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Off topic, but “e trembly” as a typo for “extremely” is very apt, and conveys the excitement of observing a rare sight very well :slightly_smiling_face:

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News stories about this event in Kerala:
[https://in.news.yahoo.com/video-rare-civet-calmly-crossing-142632634.html]