The Wild Borneo BearCat…Never knew we had such a thing!

Posted on March 30, 2011


I stumbled upon this posting in Sarawak ReportS and thought it would be a nice change of pace for rimauataskerusi.

Can’t wait to see a Wild Borneo BearCat up close. With a barrier in between, of course.

Saving the BearCat: Conservation Efforts in Sarawak

MARCH 29, 2011

The Wild Borneo BearCat, or Binturong (Arctictis binturong), is a fascinating creature. It lives in the forests of Sarawak among other places. You can read more about it here.

An omnivore who likes to eat fruit, it can be very cute and cuddly when it is young, and the fur smells a bit like buttered popcorn up close. Many of the tribes in Malaysia even keep young binturongs as pets — here is a picture of one sleeping in the sun.

That said, the wild bearcats can be quite dangerous, and vicious if they feel threatened — they use their claws to lash out, and thus have to be treated with care. This also makes it difficult to protect them within their natural habitat. In addition, deforestation and hunting of adults by locals has hurt the population. This is one reason it is a significant penalty to hunt bearcats in Sarawak, subject to a fine of RM 10,000 and one year in jail.

As Sarawak has expanded its energy infrastructure to greater utilize renewable resources, it was inevitable that the bearcat would be one of the creatures which would need to be properly managed and protected. This is a significant challenge — but the aim of the forestry experts in Sarawak has been “Whatever is there must be saved.”

To accomplish this goal, not one animal should be ignored or disposed of simply for convenience sake, as has happened in other dam sites around the world. Rather, animals would be relocated to other parts of the forest still with the same ecological elements — in some cases, placed on larger islands, so as to provide a barrier which protects them from being hunted and allows them access to the same types of foodstuffs. The animals are treated with care, and moved within equivalent habitat where they can adapt to a new life removed from harm.

Under the leadership of the Sarawak government, since the start of the Bakun zone wildlife monitoring and rescue project three years ago, Sarawak foresters have rescued more than 1,200 individual animals, both protected and non-protected, accounting for 75 distinct species.

These totals include 45 different bearcats, including the ones pictured here, who will be kept safe thanks to these efforts and protected from harm.

Posted in: environment