Island Palm Civet feeding in a Ficus septica tree along the Tomanggong Road at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in E. Sabah.

The Island Palm Civet (previously Common Palm Civet)  Paradoxurus philippinenis is the most common of the 3 palm civets found at Tabin. Studies by Nakashima  et al (2013)  and Nakabayshi et al (2014) found that the preferred habitat  of Island Palm Civets was the lush secondary growth along unpaved gravel roads. The  majority of the diet was  secondary forest fruit and these civets deposited their faeces  in open areas, along paths and along the gravel roads at Tabin, thus “farming” their own habitat.

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Ficus septica  at Tabin. Ficus septica figs are a fall back food for Island Palm Civets at Tabin.   

Island Palm Civets preferred fruit are two secondary forest plants Leea aculeata and  Endospermum diadenum as well as oil palm fruits obtained from the adjacent oil palm plantation. However when their preferred fruit is unavailable they switch to figs. The proportion of figs in their diet varies from 25%  (normal) to over 50% of their diet when their favoured fruits are unavailable.  See Nakashima et al (2013) and  Nakabayshi et al (2014)

Nakabayashi (2014) Utilization of gravel roads and roadside forest by Island Palm Civet

Nakashima et al (2013) Space use, habitat selection of Common Palm Civet


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The Tomanggong Road at Tabin. The entrance to the  path to the mud volcano is on the left hand side of this photo.   

The lush roadside vegetation along the Tomanggong Road at Tabin is dominated by  pioneer plants with fruits  favoured by Island Palm Civet. These plants include Leea indica, Endospermun diadenum, Anthocephalus cadamba (Laran)  and 4 species of  Cynopterus fruit-bat dispersed figs, Ficus variegata, Ficus lepicarpa, Ficus fistulosa and Ficus septica. Unlike Leea indica, and Endospermun diadenum fruits these bat figs tend to ripen fig fruit sequentially not in one big bang and so attract trap lining Island Palm Civets and Striped Palm Civets  which visit the fruiting fig trees every night when other fruit are scarce.

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The mud volcano at Tabin attracts  elephants, pigs and deer  which come to eat the mineral rich soil. The pioneer vegetation around the edge of the clearing includes at least four species of  bat dispersed figs which attract  at least 3 species of civets ,Island Palm Civet, Striped Palm Civet and Binturong. Nakashima and Nakabayashi found that Island Palm Civets were up to 5 times more common in sites with pioneer vegetation next to gravel roads and open spaces than in virgin forest.
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A young male Sambar Deer eating salty soil at the Tabin Mud Volcano.

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