Civet is no Cat

While staying at KwaMbili you may have the opportunity to have dinner in our hide where you have a chance of seeing animals coming in to drink at the waterhole. One of our more frequent visitors to the hide is the African Civet. Many people refer incorrectly to this as the Civet Cat. Although it is part of the Feliformia suborder it falls under a different family known as the Viverridae which are represented by the Civet and Genet species, while the cats fall under the Falidae family which are true cat species. African Civets have a badger-like facial appearance with a white muzzle and very dark patches between the muzzle and the eyes. They can be confused with Genets but are much larger, with a shorter tail and a broad black band running down the spine. They can also be mistaken from a distance for a leopard – the local Shangaan refer to them as “Fungwe” which means “fake leopard”. The name Civet is an old word associated with the musky secretions they produce which are used to make perfumes. They are a nocturnal omnivorous species, eating a wide range of fruit as well as smaller vertebrates and invertebrates, including millipedes whose noxious secretions have no ill-effect on them.