Carnivores (Mammalia: Carnivora) in South China: A status review with notes on the commercial trade

  • Lau M
  • Fellowes J
  • Chan B
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Evidence from the literature, interviews, market surveys, general rapid field surveys and camera trapping was reviewed to infer the regional status of 33 recorded carnivores in South China (Guangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, Hong Kong and Macau). The carnivore fauna in South China is among the most depleted for any continental area in the world. The tiger Panthera tigris, leopard Panthera pardus, grey wolf Canis lupus and binturong Arctictis binturong are probably extirpated. The dhole Cuon alpinus, Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temmincki and clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa are at great risk of regional extirpation, as are the more ecologically adaptable red fox Vulpes vulpes, raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides, Asian badger Meles leucurus, Eurasian otter Lutra lutra, Oriental small-clawed otter Aonyx cinereus and large Indian civet Viverra zibetha. Though more widely reported, the Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus, yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula, hog badger Arctonyx collaris and Siberian weasel Mustela sibirica are at regional risk. The status of the Burmese ferret-badger Melogale personata, stripe-backed weasel Mustela strigidorsa, smooth-coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata, large-spotted civet Viverra megaspila and Owston's palm civet Chrotogale owstoni is uncertain due to inadequate information. Five carnivore species - the Chinese ferret-badger Melogale moschata, masked palm civet Paguma larvata, yellow-bellied weasel Mustela kathiah, small Indian civet Viverricula indica and leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis - are relatively secure (though not common) in the region, along with the Asian palm civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and the Javan mongoose Herpestes javanicus in some areas, while the spotted linsang Prionodon pardicolor and crab-eating mongoose Herpestes urva may have been under-reported. The main threats have been habitat destruction and unsustainable exploitation. Only in Hong Kong, where enforcement of protection legislation has been stronger, are the surviving carnivore species easily encountered. Improved enforcement and monitoring are essential to retaining the remainder of South China's carnivores. Support could be boosted by conservation education and better research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • China
  • Declines
  • Defaunation
  • Extinction risk
  • Mammals

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  • Michael Wai Neng Lau

  • John R. Fellowes

  • Bosco Pui Lok Chan

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