Facts About the Palawan Bearcat

An endemic species of Palawan, Philippines, the tropical Palawan Bearcat (Arctictis binturong whitei) is generally unfamiliar to many. Threatened by extinction because of increasing human activities in their habitat, this mammal may become a victim of man’s carelessness. Its ecological role is not yet well understood.

Physical Characteristics

Looking half-bear and half-cat but neither a bear nor a cat, this mammal can grow to as much as 1.4 meters. A distinguishing characteristic are ears lined with white fur and long, white whiskers reaching to as much the length of its head. Generally docile when reared and handled and looks docile indeed, the bear cat has sharp claws and teeth that can easily rip through flesh just like a real bear living in the temperate countries. It can suspend itself by curling its strong prehensile tail around branches. Its vertically-oriented pupil indicates that it is a nocturnal animal. It has coarse and thick black-brown fur.

Photo by P. A. Regoniel

Habitat

The Palawan Bearcat (Arctictis binturong whitei) inhabits thick vegetation in the lowland forests of Palawan, Philippines. They camouflage themselves in dense vegetation at the canopy of trees preventing easy discovery. Since they are nocturnal, their bright luminous eyes give tell-tale signs of their presence in the trees when light is shone on them. Its prehensile tail allows it to cling closely among the tree branches.

Food

The Palawan Bearcat is omnivorous as it feeds on both fruits, and small animals like rodents, and birds. They are considered pests by farmers because they prey upon poultry.

Ecological Status

Known in Palawan, Philippines as Binturong, the Palawan Bearcat is an endemic and uncommon species.

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9 Responses to “Facts About the Palawan Bearcat”
  1. peyton Says...

    On October 1, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    cool, my cities mascot is a bearcat and no, i dont live in cinncnatie, i never thought that they really exsisted


  2. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On October 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Thanks Peyton.


  3. Caril Ridley Says...

    On October 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    The bearcat has become very rare on the Islands of Palawan, now trapped to near extinction… in fact the only Bearcat I’ve ever seen was suspended from the branch of a tree recently snared within the interior of the Tribal Sanctuary, Coron Island. Not even Tagbanwa natives remembered what it was called.

    Conservation of wildlife in this region of the Philippines is never a consideration as all wildlife, endemic and endangered, are nothing more than potential food!

    Caril Ridley


  4. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On October 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you for your comments Caril. What you say is true. I believe educating the masses is important for the survival of wildlife in Palawan. This is the reason why I embarked on a personal attempt to inform the people through my website (http://www.palawaniana.webnode.com//). This will somehow help the people appreciate the unique wildlife found in Palawan and help conserve them.


  5. Caril Ridley Says...

    On October 31, 2009 at 1:20 am

    Thanks Patrick,

    I appreciate the work you’re doing and wonder if our paths might cross amidst the paradisiacal Islands of the Calamean.

    As a cultural anthropologist I’m finding that the largest population of endangered species are the Tagbanwa themselves, cyaniding and the destruction of reefs have brought fisherfolk traditions and all manner of conservation, and environmental sustainability to the brink of extinction, it seems that their culture is all but forgotten and without some intervention it’s exquisite appreciation of nature will be lost amongst a rubble of dead coral.

    Yes, now they will eat anything that moves as would you if your children were underweight, the wind blowing, your family hungry.

    These problems are large, requiring significant solutions so in partnership I’m in the process of building eco and ethno-tourism bungalows on one of their more remote tribal islands, a location not encroaching on their way of life beyond offering alternative income’s and rebuilding an appreciation for traditional culture and environment’s adapted to… everybody living together!

    Caril Ridley

    http://www.palawanenvironmental.com


  6. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On November 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I agree with you Caril. I started working on a virtual tour of Palawan in my website to let readers get a glimpse of the beauty of nature that needs to be preserved and its enjoyment sustained. It can be found here: http://www.palawaniana.net/travel-around-palawan2/.


  7. deep blue Says...

    On February 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    This was an interesting post, kabayan. Haven’t heard of this species before.


  8. Veronica Merchant Says...

    On November 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I spent my childhood in the beautiful island of PALAWAN. We moved there in 1965 and stayed for ten years. It was basically a virgin island. No electricity yet, the rivers were so abundant. They were like our swimming pool and as clear as crystal as they were not polluted then. My family’s weekend outings include going through thick forest finding a hot spring where you could drop a fresh egg and literally be cooked right in there. Going to places where the native Tagbanuas lived and we bought any produce they may have for that day. We go to the beaches on foot. We have to cross thick forested area, then tall coconut trees that lined the beaches. We frolicked in the white sand chasing sea waves coming and going. I have never seen various species of salt water fish caught by local fishermen. They usually end up in the “wet market” for the local people. I was only 7 years old then and I remember finding a fish as big as I was on the vendors’ tables. There were also very colorful and strange-looking ones but most of all, they were fresh catch that same day.

    Grateful to have accidentally found this site.


  9. Lorne Says...

    On December 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    My brother lives in Port Barton and he recently saw a bearcat. It stared at him for a while and did not look afraid and then took off. His dog was also afraid of it.


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