By Astrid Andersson
An increasing number of shops and hotels are no longer selling Kopi Luwak coffee – made from beans found in civet feces – after an investigation revealed the animal welfare abuses inflicted on the protected species during its production.
As thirst for the cruel coffee has increased over the past two decades, wild Common Palm Civets have been captured, caged and malnourished in veritable civet concentration camps across Asia.
“From what we understand, there are many farms in Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and possibly in Cambodia and Lao as well… Sources report they are springing up all over the place,” says Chris Shepherd of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
Civets in the factory farms showed clear signs of mental and physical stress: compulsive movements, fur loss, bloodied stools and malnourishment. All this is despite the species being classified “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
In Indonesia, trade in the animal is restricted to a quota of 270 a year – 90 per cent of which must be exported outside of the country. Indonesia, however, is where the concentration and boom of civet farms has been most widely reported, illustrating how legislation intended to protect can easily become loopholes exploited by wildlife traders for extra profit.
Moreover, the lack of regulation enforcement leaves other, even rarer civet species vulnerable to economic exploitation.
“We have heard of other species of civets and ferret-badgers being used in the farms, Binturongs included. More surveys are urgently needed to get to the bottom of this,” says Shepherd.
Will Duckworth, of the IUCN, agrees: “Binturongs species melt away in the face of even quite modest hunting levels, and I have heard reports of them also being brought into the farms. Were there to be a craze for Binturong coffee, this would be an absolute conservation disaster.” More....