The mongoose, commonly known as Nevalaa in India, is a fierce and active hunter that feeds on a variety of ground-living animals, eggs and fruits.

The Indian Grey Mongoose in particular is well known for its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes such as cobras. *Link to factsheet*.


Mongooses are largely threatened by the unabated illegal trade in their hair, used to make paint brushes. To obtain one kilogramme of mongoose hair, at least 50 animals are killed. Each mongoose yields about 40 g of hair but when sorted, only 20 g is suitable for making paint brushes. Mongoose hair brushes are often sold as sable or badger brushes.

India is considered a major illegal exporter of mongoose hair which is smuggled to the Middle East, USA and Europe.

By buying brushes made of mongoose hair, make-up artists, painters and even children in many countries become unwitting accomplices in their illicit trade!

How are they being (mis)used?

  • Tens of thousands of mongooses are killed every year to meet the demand for paint brushes made from their hair!
  • Grey mongooses are often captured and sold as pets.
  • Grey Mongooses are also exploited by snake charmers and madaris for street performances.
  • Communities from northern India capture mongooses for their skins, which are then sold in local markets in Nepal.

Did you know?

Mongooses help save billions of worth of food crops annually by preying on rodents, snakes, insects and other smaller animals.

The extent of this illegal trade

According to a rough estimate made by the Wildlife Trust of India in 2002, the annual yield of mongoose hair in India was close to 1,000 kg for which around 50,000 mongooses would have been killed! With virtually no information available on their population status, large scale exploitation could be having a disastrous impact on mongoose species.

Download the mongoose factsheet