Tirupati temple proposes breeding of civet for musk

March 10th, 2011 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) To meet the demand for musk at Sri Venkateswara temple — India’s richest temple — in Tirupati, the temple administration has proposed to sponsor breeding of civet, provided they be allowed to collect the aromatic secretion of the critically endangered mammal.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board has written to the Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, showing their interest in breeding of the nocturnal animal at Tirupati zoo.

“We have received a proposal from temple authorities, asking to build nocturnal houses for civet in the zoo. The temple needs the aromatic secretion for some religious purpose but modalities are yet to be worked out,” S. Sarvanan, the curator of the zoo, told IANS.

The zoo presently has three civets - one male and two females - and they need to get more civets if the breeding programme has to be started.

Civet secretes some aromatic substance from their glands which automatically drops down. It is applied to the deity - Lord Venkateswara - once a week.

“The animal we have is a small Indian civet. It secretes a musk also known as civet. However, we are not sure if we can allow the temple to collect civet secretion as permission has to be sought from higher authorities,” he said.

The Wildlife Act of India prohibits collection, use and possession of any substance from the protected species, even if they are naturally shed by them.

The aromatic substance secreted by civet is valued as a fragrance and stabilising agent for perfume.

The civet is considered to be one of the rarest mammals. It is endemic to India and was first reported from Travancore, Kerala. It is nocturnal in nature and found exclusively in the Western Ghats.

Civet population has shown a downfall in past couple of years due to deforestation and commercial plantations.

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