The increasing demand for Kopi Luwak, the world's most expensive coffee, is driving the illegal and inhumane civet trade. These wild omnivores are being captured from the forest, kept in cages, and are fed almost exclusively coffee cherries. With their poor living conditions, the civets endure mental and physical stress, which eventually leads to illness and death. These animals are almost all wild caught and are now disappearing from the forest.
Civets are being captured from the wild and are caged in order to produce Kopi Luwak. A cup of this "civet poop coffee" costs $30-$100 per cup and $100-$600 per lb. These prices are justified by the claim that the coffee is sourced from wild animals, which is extremely tedious to do. However, these claims are false. The global demand for the exotic coffee has led to inhumane civet "farms," which capture civets from the wild, cage them and feed only feed them coffee cherries until the civets fall deathly ill from stress and poor living conditions. It is estimated that 500 tons of Kopi Luwak is produced annually, a far cry from the claims that this coffee is extremely rare.
Wildlife Alliance has been working since 2001 to end the trade of wildlife in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. Since then, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team has saved over 200 civets from the illegal wildlife trade. However, the international demand remains high and continued efforts are needed to ensure the long-term survival of civets in the region. Our teams are finding more snares in the forest, baited with pineapple, specifically set to capture civets to meet the growing demands for "civet poop coffee." The Wildlife Alliance approach to saving civets from the coffee trade is to (1) remove snares in the forest in order to prevent civets from being captured by poachers, (2) investigate civet trade networks and rescue the animals, and (3) rehabilitate the rescued civets and release them back into protected habitat once they are healthy.
The Long-Term Impact
We are seeing civets begin to disappear throughout their range at increasing rates in the forest. These shy animals don't get the same media coverage that some larger mammals get, so this project will not only support on the ground efforts to prevent their extinction, but also help raise awareness about the horrors of supporting this inhumane coffee production.