Civets enslaved in growing demand for tourism and luxury coffee
Our new study reveals the demand for the world’s most expensive coffee is on the rise due to tourism
The Asian palm civet is a small, nocturnal mammal that lives in the trees and forests of South and Southeast Asia. Asian palm civets are believed to be one of the most common species of civet, however growing demand for civet coffee, or Kopi Luwak as it is also known in Indonesia, has led to an increase in civets being captured from the wild and fed coffee beans to produce this unusual beverage.
Civet coffee is produced across the island of Bali by civet ‘cats’ kept in cramped, barren cages to produce gourmet coffee for visiting tourists.
Researchers from World Animal Protection have discovered that this novelty drink is on the rise with more than 16 different civet coffee plantations emerging along one popular tourist highway of Gianyar and Bangli in Bali in the last 5 years alone.
The study also revealed that 16 new plantations were all intended for international tourists visiting Bali, 14 of the 16 plantations produced the caged civet coffee on-site, and two plantations that did not produce caged coffee on-site confirmed that they kept civets in cages purely as a tourist attraction to illustrate to tourists how the coffee is made.
The distinctive-tasting coffee can cost up to $100 for a single cup and is already popular with coffee drinkers across the USA and Europe. The coffee beans produced are digested by the civet cat, and the feces of the cat are then collected, finished, and sold.
“When tourists see the caged civets, it helps to convince them that they are drinking genuine real civet coffee as part of their tour. Sadly, many tourists are blind to the cruelty associated with caged civet coffee and even line up to take a photo to share on social media,” said Dr. Neil D’Cruze, Wildlife researcher at World Animal Protection.
This high-end pricing has turned farming civet cats for coffee into an enslavement industry. The cramped cages in which civets are kept have wire floors that cut into their feet causing them physical and mental distress. They do not have shelter to hide.
Many of the civet coffee farmers are uneducated on how to care for their animals, and the civets often become ill or die, all in the name of making coffee.
An ongoing issue
World Animal Protection first uncovered the cruelty associated with caged civet coffee in 2013. As a result, at least 13 retailers – including well-known brands such as Harrods and Selfridges in the UK and Simon Lévelt in the Netherlands – took civet coffee off their shelves or agreed to further investigate.
You can make a difference
“Detecting cruel civet coffee remains a constant challenge because of the difficulty in distinguishing between beans from caged or wild civet cats. However, if tourists see civets in cages as part of their tour, this is a clear indication that unnecessary animal abuse is involved,” said Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach of World Animal Protection, joint author of the study. World Animal Protection is calling for tourists to avoid these cruel caged civet coffee plantations.
Any tourists tempted by the novelty should only choose ‘cage-free’ civet coffee instead, which is good for wild animals, good for conservation, good for coffee connoisseurs and good for rural communities, who can continue to generate an income from tourists.
Our report Checking out of cruelty revealed touring civet coffee plantations to be one of the top 10 cruelest tourist attractions in the world today. Presently, we’re calling on TripAdvisor to stop promoting and selling tickets to cruel wildlife tourist attractions. Sign our petition today and tell TripAdvisor to protect wild animals.