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Friday, July 1, 2022

rare sighting of civet cat in an ATM !!

Sure you have heard of ‘Punugu poonai’ – the civet cat.  It is not exactly a cat but a small nocturnal mammal that lives in forests.  The word civet also refers to the distinctive musky scent produced by the animals.   The civet has catlike body, long legs,  long tail, and a masked face resembling a raccoon or weasel. In some areas of the world, it has become an endangered species, hunted for its fur or as a food source. The civet's taste for fruit has been its downfall in at least one area of Southeast Asia; the durian fruit is also called "civet fruit," because it is used as bait for catching civets. The civet not only is fond of fruit, but has had a love-hate relationship with growers of a particular coffee bean in Viet Nam. Civets love this bean, and search out the tastiest examples with their long, foxlike nose.

It is considered sacred too – according to scriptures - aromatic substances javvadu, kasthuri and punugu  are used in rituals.  The three aromatic substances are used at the Tirumala temple  providing a long-lasting and refreshing fragrance.  Have read that  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams is rearing the animal `civet' in its Sri Venkateswara Dairy Farm.

From the traditional withdrawal from Bank standing in queue filling challans and always appearing bemused, automated teller machines (ATM) have changed the way of money transaction. All and sundry now flaunt no. of cards and allowing withdrawal from ATM of any bank has just added to the confusion. Still people do queue before select ATMs.  Currency notes are not the only thing that ATM disposes – some give coins; some Gold bars and gold coins and a Company introduced  gold, silver and diamond sales through vending machines.  Aavin used to dispense milk from automated vending machines. 

Users of ATM have had to cope up with peculiar problems – some are in deserted areas – in some you would find the security sleeping inside ! – this one is far different.  TOI reports that visitors to an ATM in Adyar on Tuesday [3.3.15] morning had unusual company waiting atop the kiosk shutter– a palm civet cat. The rare visitor was soon rescued and handed over to the zoo authorities by Blue Cross.

Blue Cross said the bank staff received information about the presence of some animal on top of the rolling shutters at the ATM counter in the morning. But, they were not quite sure about the species. They informed Blue Cross about it. A team came with a cage and the civet cat was trapped in it, without any injury. However, it took three hours to make it move into the cage, he said.  A  wildlife biologist of National Conservation Foundation, who studies small carnivores, told TOI that civet cats, also known as toddy cats, are adaptable animals. Basically a nocturnal animal, they are always usually found on trees. An omnivorous animal, civet cats feed on fruits as well as birds and other smaller animals. The natural habitat of the civet cat includes dry evergreen forests and agriculture fields surrounded by trees.

With such areas increasingly being taken over by concrete structures, civet cats often get stranded in human habitations. In old houses, they sometimes make the attic their home. It is also called a ‘toddy cat’, for villagers claim that they can tap the toddy from the palm tree; that is stated to be a myth though.  Theosophical Society, Adyar,  Guindy National Park, IIT-M campus, Madras Christian College campus, Vandalur zoo and the forests that stretch up to Chingleput  are some of the places where one can spot palm civets.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Mar 2015.

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