Small Carnivores

Project Description

Kinabatangan Small Carnivores Project


 Related Publications

The first recorded activity pattern for the sunda stink-badger Mydaus javanensis (Mammalia: Carnivora: Mephitidae) using camera traps.

Small carnivores of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah, Malaysia, including a new locality for the Otter Civet Cynogale bennettii.

First known satellite collaring of a viverrid species: preliminary performance and implications of GPS tracking Malay civets (Viverra tangalunga).

Title: The effects of habitat fragmentation and agro-expansion on the spatial ecology, diet, and ecotoxicology of Bornean small carnivores.


Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga)- IUCN Red List: Least Concern ver 3.1

Common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)- IUCN Red List: Least Concern ver 3.1

And other small carnivore species

 PhD Candidate: Meaghan N. Evans

Supervisors: Benoit Goossens, Carsten Muller, Peter Kille

Institution: Cardiff University

Duration: October 2013 – October 2020

Research Questions:

  1. What are the home ranges and movement patterns of small carnivores within the fragmented forests of the LKWS and surrounding palm oil plantations? How does habitat quality and quantity affect the spatial ecology of these species?
  2. How do small carnivore species interact within the same habitat?
  3. What are the activity patterns of small carnivores?
  4. What are the main components of small carnivore diets, and how do seasonality and availability affect food selection?
  5. How do chemicals applied to palm oil plantations and other sources of anthropogenic pollution affect small carnivores?

Research Overview:

The Kinabatangan Small Carnivore Project aims to determine the long-term effects of habitat fragmentation on the significantly understudied Bornean small carnivore guild. The expansion of large-scale agriculture is a very tangible threat to global biodiversity, and by utilizing GPS collars, biological sampling, behavioural data and remote sensing, the KSCP hopes to evaluate how conservation planning can best mitigate carnivore losses. The project is the first in the world to place a GPS collar on a Viverrid species, and the level of spatiotemporal data resolution is providing novel insights into how the guild is responding to the anthropogenic pressures. Noninvasive ecotoxicology analyses and dietary sampling are uncovering otherwise unforeseen data on how these species are being exposed to dangerous chemicals and other pollution sources.

The results from the project are expected to provide the Sabah Wildlife Department novel and critical data for the effective conservation of wild carnivores. The project will provide insights regarding landscape configuration of both forest fragments and palm oil plantations for maximized carnivore conservation and protection.


Title: Ecology of Otters in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

Asian Small-Clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus),
Smooth-Coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)

IUCN Status:
Asian Small-Clawed Otter = Vulnerable A2acde ver 3.1
Smooth-Coated Otter = Vulnerable A2cde ver 3.1

MSc Candidate: Leona Wai

Supervisors: Benoit Goossens, Henry Bernard and Meaghan N. Evans

Institution: Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah

Duration: 2016-2018

There are four confirmed species of otter in Borneo and two confirmed species in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS). Due to lack of information, data about otters is needed urgently in order to establish conservation status and future conservation management plans.


  1. To determine the presence and absence of otter species, and their distribution across the different habitat structure in the LKWS,
  2. To evaluate the effect of habitat on otter presence/absence and/or intensity of use
  3. To identify and understand better human-otter conflict.


A combination of footprints/sprainting survey, microhabitat characterization and interview/questionnaire survey will be utilized. Footprints/sprainting surveys are commonly used methods in determining the presence and absence of otters. Transects of 500 m long, each subdivided into 100 m spatial replicates, will be established along the Kinabatangan River within the LKWS. Transects will be spaced in 1 km intervals, which will cover 40 km of the LKWS. Transects will be searched thoroughly for any signs of otters such as footprints and sprainting sites, and recorded at monthly intervals. Sprainting is defined as the process of defecation of an otter. Otters are known to leave their spraint for the purpose of marking their territory as they are territorial species. Hence, it is easy to determine their presence by tracking down their sprainting sites. Footprints are also essential in species identification as each otter species has its own unique set of footprints.

Microhabitat characterization is important to determine the habitat structure of each transect. Whenever signs of otter are seen or a holt is discovered, the variables that need to be recorded are type of sign, number of individual observed, species of otter, tree species, tree GBH, tree height, and distance of the holt from water and otter sign. All habitat variables will be estimated through single-person observation at each transect.

Interview/questionnaire survey will be used to understand the human-otter conflict that might be occurring around the LKWS. This survey will focus on local communities, fishermen and plantation workers as they live or work in otter habitat.

This research aims to upgrade the protection of otter species to Schedule I status due to the threats they are facing.