On our return from Johannesburg, the Bean and I took a different route via Tzaneen to drop off a friend of ours. Now I know the area reasonably well but had never driven from Tzaneen to Hoedspruit myself.  I don’t get lost.  Ever. Sometimes I just take a little longer to get where I want to be.  This was one of these occasions so instead of arriving back home by 6-7 pm as planned, we took the long route and only got home at 8pm via Mica and Hoedspruit towns {which we should have missed by miles}

We travelled our final stretch of sand road in the dark, chatting and laughing, and really pleased to be driving a car that performs so well off-road because there had been an enormous amount of rain earlier in the day.  Suddenly there was a flash of black and white across the road which stopped in some bushes on the verge of the road and turned to watch us.  We stopped and looked back in awe.


The most beautiful African Civet Cat stared back at us.  This is such a rare find – not because they are rare animals but because they are purely nocturnal.  You just don’t get to see them in the day time.  Most sightings are made on night drives in game reserves. African civet are commonly referred to as Civet cats which is deceiving because African Civet’s have no familial relation to felines and do not even resemble one another.

Civettictis civetta

 The African Civet’s have an average weight of 11-15kg and ranges in length from 100-130cm from nose to tail.  It is the largest representative of the African Viverridae. It is the sole member of its genus.  African Civet’s can be found from coast to coast across sub-Saharan Africa. They are primarily nocturnal and spend the day sleeping in dense vegetation. During the night, when they are the most active they can be found in a wide variety of habitat consisting of thick forest to open country.  The African Civet is a solitary mammal which is easily recognizable by its unique coloration. This type of colouration is called cryptic.

The black bands surrounding the African Civet’s eyes closely resemble those of a raccoon. I personally think he looks more like the lone ranger – look at his pretty mask.

 Other distinguishing features of the African Civet are it’s disproportionately large hindquarters and the erect crest along its back.  The African Civet is an omnivore, taking small vertebrates, invertebrates, eggs, carrion, and vegetable matter. It is capable of taking on poisonous invertebrates (such as the millipedes most other species avoid{songololos}) and snakes. Like all civet it has perineal glands that produce a fluid known as civetone (used in the perfume industry), which it spreads on markers in its territory.  I am rather glad that most modern-day perfume uses a synthetic musk as I think I would have a problem smearing a paste from a gland near a civet bum all over me!  African Civets have been kept in captivity and milked for their civet which is still sometimes diluted into perfumes. They can secrete three to four grams of civet per week and it can be sold for just under five hundred dollars per kilogram.

Anther silly Civet fact:

Kopi Luwak – the rarest coffee in existence

If you’re looking for some unusual exclusive and slightly bizarre coffee then this might just be it. Civet Coffee is probably the rarest coffee you can get. Only about 500 kg is farmed (or found) a year.

Now for the manufacturing process: The Common Palm Civet Cat prowls the Sumatran coffee plantations at night, choosing to eat only the finest, ripest cherries. The stones (which eventually form coffee beans) are then collected by cleaning through the droppings by the natives who collect it.

Kopi Luwak as it is known, is considered to be the world’s finest coffee by Native Sumatrans. This coffee has an intense but delicate flavour and no aftertaste, which is unique in coffee. This flavour is due to the fact that the coffee has been partially fermented by passing through the system of the civet.

Anyone for a coffee?

I hope you have found this interesting – we were wowed by this fellow and hope we get to see him again soon. 

Coming soon:  On the same evening  we nearly bumped into something a little bigger….but thats a story for another day.


8 thoughts on “Civetization

  1. They referred to Kopi Luwak in the movie “The Bucket List”. Rob and I thought it was something fictional made up for the movie, we had no idea it was true. I’ll stick to Nescafe thanks!


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