Do you remember the first time you learned about the red panda? Perhaps you thought, “Wow, pandas come in a mini-size with reddish fur? Nothing could be as unique as this new species!”
Well, just when you think that nothing can be as unique as the red panda, let us introduce you to another species that you’ll find fascinating — the bearcat, also known as binturong (pronounced bin-too-rong).
Is this the first time you’ve heard about the binturong?
We’re glad to initiate the introduction. The binturong is a mammal that is closely related to civets and fossas — two other mammals that may be foreign to your ears, but we hope it helps paint a general picture. The binturong has a characteristically long and muscular tail, sharp claws and grizzly black fur that coats its entire body and tail. It weighs 10 – 14 kg (22 – 31 lbs) and can grow up to almost 1 meter in length (40 inches).
The binturong has always been a reclusive species, living on trees inside southeast Asia’s dense rainforests. It’s no wonder that they rarely make an appearance in your jungle trek across Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand and the surrounding countries. They are also vulnerable creatures as they can hardly win when fighting against poachers, and they can’t make a lightning dash to escape deforestation.
Not all secrets are good to keep
The binturong is not a new species, and yet only a handful of people have studied them — people who study the rainforest, and those who try to protect them from poaching and illegal farming.
From our experience, celebrating special days devoted to animals around the world, and raising awareness about endangered species has helped many species return from the brink of extinction. If we had never heard about the pandas in China, the rhinos in Africa and the orangutans in Indonesia, we wouldn’t be so passionate about protecting them. Our local government wouldn’t do as much to respond to the problem if we do not voice our concerns. How can we solve a problem if we don’t know that it exists?
The life of the binturong species has remained secret for a long time, but their absence in our thoughts, our conversations and our media, has put their population at risk. They are currently listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, and at the current rate of population loss, they may well be extinct within our lifetime.
Binturong meet and greet at Bali Safari Park
For years, Bali Safari Park has put a great effort into wildlife conservation, particularly those species that are native to Indonesia, such as the orangutans, Bali mynah, and Sumatra tigers. Since Indonesia is within its habitat range, we focus on the binturong as well, working alongside the government and other agencies to help reverse the decline of the wild binturong population. We also make an effort to raise awareness about the illegal farming of these harmless and innocent creatures.
Come and meet the binturong at Bali Safari Park.