A very plump female Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata feeding on ripe Ficus brunneoaurata figs in hill forest on Gunung Trus Madi in Sabah.
All photos by Shavez Cheema of 1StopBorneo Wildlife
This large pile of feces was carefully placed by the palm civet in a branch fork on the Ficus brunneoaurata fig tree. It is a little known fact that most civets in Borneo place their feces non-randomly. i.e. the location is carefully chosen. For example Island Palm Civets place their feces on the ground in open area such as paths where the seeds contained in the feces can germinate in full sunlight. Binturongs place their feces in epiphyte gardens high in the canopy where strangling fig seeds are most likely to establish.
Note the Fruit Piercing Moth feeding on the delicious fig juices in the dung abandoned by the civet.
This single pile of civet feces contains tens of thousands of ripe Ficus brunneoaurata fig seeds ready to germinate. Fig seeds normally germinate in full sunlight and only need adequate water to kick start growth. Obviously a dispersal strategy of placing fig seeds in tree branches is likely to benefit strangling figs but not small fig trees like F. brunneouaurata which grow in the ground.
These seeds are likely to be collected by seed predator ants which take them back to their nests in the ground nearby. Although the ants are collecting the seeds for food who knows what may happen next? A wandering pangolin may eat the ants and expose the seeds to sunlight thus kick-starting the next generation of Ficus brunneoaurata figs on Gunung Trus Madi.