Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 27 years (captivity) Observations: In captivity these animals may live up to 27 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Behavior

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Binturongs communicate primarily through olfactory means. Both sexes have sent glands on each side of their anuses and females have another pair of sent glands around their vulva (Cosson et al., 2007). These sent glands mark trees as they climb and let other binturongs know where they have been. The scent created is described as that of corn chips or popcorn. Binturongs also use vocal communication such as loud howls, low grunts, and hisses (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Females receptive to copulations make a purring sound (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Males and females produce a chuckling noise when they are happy and a high-pitched wail if they are upset (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Binturongs are also visually adapted to see in a wide range of light as they have elliptical pupils that adjust readily (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Christopher Yahnke, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Conservation Status

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Populations of binturongs have declined more than 30% over the last 30 years (Widmann et al., 2008). The main threats to binturongs include deforestation, wildlife trade, and hunting (Cosson et al., 2007). Deforestation and habitat degradation is most severe in the south of their range (Widmann et al., 2008). Pet trade, fur trade, human consumption, and non-specific hunting also cause decreases in population through poaching (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Binturongs are listed as Critically Endangered on the China Red List and are protected in Malaysia (Widmann et al., 2008). However, current protection of binturongs doesn't satisfy their needs. Better enforcement of laws against poaching and habitat degradation needs to be instated to protect the diminishing species (Cosson et al., 2007).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Benefits

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Many zoos have or desire binturongs for education and static display. In the wild, binturongs prey on rodents and provide humans with rodent control. Binturongs can also be used by humans for their fur and meat, which is considered a delicacy in some countries. It is also reported that binturongs are relatively easily domesticated and sometimes kept as pets (Nowak, 1999).

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; body parts are source of valuable material; research and education; controls pest population

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Associations

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Binturongs are often described as a keystone species within their ecosystems. They are the only known disperser of strangler fig (Ficus altissima) seeds as they have the digestive enzymes required to soften its seed coat. This seed dispersal is very crucial for the persistence of these forest ecosystems. Also, as predators, they may influence the populations of their prey species.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; keystone species

Mutualist Species:

  • Strangler fig (Ficus altissima)

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Arthrostoma guilhoni n. sp.
  • Tetrapetalonema
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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Trophic Strategy

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Binturongs are in the order Carnivora, but are primarily frugivorous. They eat fruits such as those of the strangler fig tree (Ficus altissima). They are also good hunters and their prey consists of many small animals such as insects, birds, fish, and rodents. As opportunistic feeders, binturongs will also eat carrion, eggs, tree shoots, and leaves.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; fish; eggs; carrion ; insects

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit

Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Distribution

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Binturongs are found in Southeast Asia, specifically Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. They are also found more rarely on the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, Nias, Raiu, and the Bangka islands.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Habitat

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Binturongs are primarily arboreal and live in the canopies of tall, dense, tropical forests. In Lao, they inhabit extensive evergreen forests and in the Philippines they dwell in primary and secondary lowland forests with grasslands (Widmann et al., 2008). They spend most of their time climbing in trees and they even sleep in the branches (San Diego Zoo, 2012).

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Life Expectancy

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Binturongs can live up to 18 years in the wild and can live over 25 years in captivity.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
18 (high) years.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
25 (high) years.

Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
22.7 years.

Average lifespan
Status: wild:
18.0 years.

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Morphology

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Binturonga are the largest species in the Viverridae family, weighing 9 to 20 kg (Cosson et al., 2007). Their body length is 61 to 96 cm with an almost equal tail length of 56 to 89 cm (Nowak, 1999). Females are 20% larger than males (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Long, coarse, black fur covers their bodies and sometimes has gray tips. Their faces have slightly lighter fur and white whiskers. Long ear tufts protrude from small rounded ears. Their eyes are small and reddish brown. Binturongs are one of two carnivorous species that have a prehensile tail. Their third and fourth digits are syndactylous (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981).

Range mass: 9 to 20 kg.

Range length: 60 to 96 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 12.747 W.

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Associations

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Binturongs are very rarely prey items. As relatively large carnivores, there are few animals that can kill them. Two species of known predators are tigers and dholes. During a study conducted within binturong range, 172 dhole scats examined contained no evidence of binturongs (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Known Predators:

  • tigers (Panthera tigris)
  • dholes (Cuon alpinus)
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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Reproduction

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Little research has been done regarding the mating systems of binturongs. Michael Zwirn reported in 2011 that the father of a mated pair remained with the mother and young after birth, so a monogamous system is most likely. However, the male doesn't always stay and help the female raise the young. Groups of binturongs usually only include the mother with immature females (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005). Binturongs are generally solitary unless females are in estrus, in which case they make a call that attracts males (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Males often act defensively towards females unless they are in estrus.

Mating System: monogamous

There doesn't seem to be a reproductive season for binturongs, because they mate throughout the year. There is, however, an increase in births from January to March, which could be a result of delayed implantation (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981). Gestation lasts 91 days and the typical litter size is 2, but there can be up to 6 (Carnivore Preservation Trust, 2009). Females reach sexual maturity at about 30 months and males reach sexual maturity at about 28 months (Wemmer and Murtaugh, 1981).

Breeding interval: Binturongs tend to breed twice a year.

Breeding season: Binturongs breed throughout the year.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 6.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Range gestation period: 90 to 92 days.

Range weaning age: 6 to 8 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 30.0 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 27.7 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous ; delayed implantation ; embryonic diapause

Average birth mass: 318 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male:
840 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
925 days.

Binturongs are born altritially with an average weight of 142 g and their eyes sealed (San Diego Zoo, 2012). The young remain hidden in their mother’s fur for the first few days and are weaned at about 6 to 8 weeks (San Diego Zoo, 2012). Males do not always provide parental care, but they sometimes do until the young are independent. Females will always provide care until the young are independent, and sometimes continue to live in a group with the offspring even after they are independent (Grassman Jr. et al., 2005).

Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents

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Schleif, M. 2013. "Arctictis binturong" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Arctictis_binturong.html
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Molly Schleif, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Binturong

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The binturong (Arctictis binturong) (/bɪnˈtrɒŋ/ bin-TOO-rong), also known as bearcat, is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because of a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% since the mid 1980s.[2] The binturong is the only living species in the genus Arctictis.

Taxonomy

Viverra binturong was the scientific name used by Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1822 for a binturong collected in Malacca.[3] The scientific name of the genus Arctictis was coined by Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1824.[4] Arctictis is a monotypic taxon; its morphology is similar to that of members of the genera Paradoxurus and Paguma.[5]

Etymology

The name Arctictis means 'bear-weasel', from Greek arkt- 'bear' + iktis 'weasel'.[6] In Riau, Indonesia it is called 'benturong' and 'tenturun'.[7]

Characteristics

 src=
Skull and dentition of the binturong, as illustrated in Paul Gervais' Histoire naturelle des mammifères
 src=
Binturong skeleton on display in the Museum of Osteology

The binturong is long and heavy, with short, stout legs. It has a thick coat of coarse black hair. The bushy and prehensile tail is thick at the root, gradually tapering, and curls inwards at the tip. The muzzle is short and pointed, somewhat turned up at the nose, and is covered with bristly hairs, brown at the points, which lengthen as they diverge, and form a peculiar radiated circle round the face. The eyes are large, black and prominent. The ears are short, rounded, edged with white, and terminated by tufts of black hair. There are six short rounded incisors in each jaw, two canines, which are long and sharp, and six molars on each side. The hair on the legs is short and of a yellowish tinge. The feet are five-toed, with large strong claws; the soles are bare, and applied to the ground throughout the whole of their length; the hind ones are longer than the fore.[3]

In general build the binturong is essentially like Paradoxurus and Paguma but more massive in the length of the tail, legs and feet, in the structure of the scent glands and larger size of rhinarium, which is more convex with a median groove being much narrower above the philtrum. The contour hairs of the coat are much longer and coarser, and the long hairs clothing the whole of the back of the ears project beyond the tip as a definite tuft. The anterior bursa flap of the ears is more widely and less deeply emarginate. The tail is more muscular, especially at the base, and in colour generally like the body, but commonly paler at the base beneath. The body hairs are frequently partly whitish or buff, giving a speckled appearance to the pelage, sometimes so pale that the whole body is mostly straw-coloured or grey, the young being often at all events paler than the adults, but the head is always closely speckled with grey or buff. The long mystacial vibrissae are conspicuously white, and there is a white rim on the summit of the otherwise black ear. The glandular area is whitish.[5] The tail is nearly as long as the head and body, which ranges from 71 to 84 cm (28 to 33 in); the tail is 66 to 69 cm (26 to 27 in) long.[8] Some captive binturongs measured from 76 cm (2 ft 6 in) to 91 cm (3 ft) in head and body with a tail of 71 cm (2 ft 4 in).[9] Mean weight of captive adult females is 21.9 kg (48 lb) with a range from 11 to 32 kg (24 to 71 lb). Captive animals often weigh more than wild counterparts.[10]

Both sexes have scent glands; females on either side of the vulva, and males between the scrotum and penis.[11][12] The musk glands emit an odor reminiscent of popcorn or corn chips, likely due to the volatile compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline in the urine, which is also produced in the Maillard reaction at high temperatures.[13] Unlike most other carnivorans, the male binturong does not have a baculum.[14]

Distribution and habitat

The binturong occurs from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan in China, and from Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java in Indonesia to Palawan in the Philippines.[2] It is confined to tall forest.[15] In Assam, it is common in foothills and hills with good tree cover, but less so in the forested plains. It has been recorded in Manas National Park, in Dulung and Kakoi Reserved Forests of the Lakhimpur district, in the hill forests of Karbi Anglong, North Cachar Hills, Cachar and Hailakandi Districts.[16] In Myanmar, binturongs were photographed on the ground in Tanintharyi Nature Reserve at an elevation of 60 m (200 ft), in the Hukaung Valley at elevations from 220–280 m (720–920 ft), in the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Reserve at 580 m (1,900 ft) and at three other sites up to 1,190 m (3,900 ft) elevation.[17] In Thailand's Khao Yai National Park, several individuals were observed feeding in a fig tree and on a vine.[18] In Laos, they have been observed in extensive evergreen forest.[19] In Malaysia, binturongs were recorded in secondary forest surrounding a palm estate that was logged in the 1970s.[20] In Palawan, it inhabits primary and secondary lowland forest, including grassland–forest mosaic from sea level to 400 m (1,300 ft).[21]

Taxonomy

Viverra binturong was the scientific name proposed by Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1822 for a specimen from Malacca.[3] The generic name Arctictis was proposed by Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1824.[22] In the 19th and 20th centuries, the following zoological specimens were described:[23]

Nine subspecies have been recognized forming two clades. The northern clade in mainland Asia is separated from the Sundaic clade by the Isthmus of Kra.[31]

Ecology and behavior

 src=
Binturong photographed by a camera trap at a feeding platform on a fruiting Ficus

The binturong is active during the day and at night.[18][19] Three sightings in Pakke Tiger Reserve were by day.[32] Thirteen camera trap photograph events in Myanmar involved one around dusk, seven in full night and five in broad daylight. All photographs were of single animals, and all were taken on the ground. As binturongs are not very nimble, they may have to descend to the ground relatively frequently when moving between trees.[17]

Five radio-collared binturongs in the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary exhibited an arrhythmic activity dominated by crepuscular and nocturnal tendencies with peaks in the early morning and late evening. Reduced inactivity periods occurred from midday to late afternoon. They moved between 25 m (82 ft) and 2,698 m (8,852 ft) daily in the dry season and increased their daily movement to 4,143 m (13,593 ft) in the wet season. Ranges sizes of males varied between 0.9 km2 (0.35 sq mi) and 6.1 km2 (2.4 sq mi). Two males showed slightly larger ranges in the wet season. Their ranges overlapped between 30 and 70%.[33] The average home range of a radio-collared female in the Khao Yai National Park was estimated at 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi), and the one of a male at 4.5 to 20.5 km2 (1.7 to 7.9 sq mi).[34]

The binturong is essentially arboreal. Pocock observed the behaviour of several captive individuals in the London Zoological Gardens. When resting they lie curled up, with the head tucked under the tail. They seldom leaped, but climbed skillfully, albeit slowly, progressing with equal ease and confidence along the upper side of branches or, upside down, beneath them. The prehensile tail was always ready as a help. They descended the vertical bars of the cage head first, gripping them between their paws and using the prehensile tail as a check. When irritated they growled fiercely. When on the prowl they periodically uttered a series of low grunts or a hissing sound made by expelling air through partially opened lips.[5]

The binturong uses the tail to communicate.[11] It moves about gently, often coming to a stop, and often using the tail to keep balance, clinging to a branch. It shows a pronounced comfort behaviour associated with grooming the fur, shaking and licking the hair, and scratching. Shaking is the most characteristic element of comfort behaviour.[35]

The species is normally quite shy, but aggressive when harassed. It is reported to initially urinate or defecate on a threat and then, if teeth-baring and snarling does not deter the threat, it uses its powerful jaws and teeth in self-defense. When threatened, the binturong will usually flee into a nearby tree, but as a defense mechanism the binturong may sometimes balance on its tail and flash its claws to appear threatening to potential predators. Predation on adult binturong is reportedly quite rare by sympatric species like leopard, clouded leopard and reticulated python.[36]

Diet

The binturong is omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits.[8] It also preys on rodents.[15] Fish and earthworms are likely unimportant items in its diet, as it is neither aquatic nor fossorial, coming across such prey only when opportunities present themselves. Since it does not have the attributes of a predatory mammal, most of the binturong's diet is probably of vegetable matter.[5] Figs are a major component of its diet.[18][32][37] Captive binturongs are particularly fond of plantains, but also eat fowls' heads and eggs.[3]

The binturong is an important agent for seed dispersal, especially for those of the strangler fig, because of its ability to scarify the seed's tough outer covering.[38]

In captivity, the binturong's diet includes commercially prepared meat mix, bananas, apples, oranges, canned peaches and mineral supplement.[10]

Reproduction

The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. The estrous cycle of the binturong lasts 18 to 187 days, with an average of 82.5 days. Gestation lasts 84 to 99 days. Litter size in captivity varies from one to six young, with an average of two young per birth. Neonates weigh between 283.8 and 340.5 g (0.626 and 0.751 lb), and are often referred to as shruggles. Fertility lasts until 15 years of age.[10]

The maximum known lifespan in captivity is thought to be over 25 years of age.[39]

Threats

 src=
Young binturong kept as a pet by Orang Asli at Taman Negara, Malaysia

Major threats to the binturong are habitat loss and degradation of forests through logging and conversion of forests to non-forest land-uses throughout the binturong's range. Habitat loss has been severe in the lowlands of the Sundaic part of its range, and there is no evidence that the binturong uses the plantations that are largely replacing natural forest. In China, rampant deforestation and opportunistic logging practices have fragmented suitable habitat or eliminated sites altogether. In the Philippines, it is captured for the wildlife trade, and in the south of its range it is also taken for human consumption. In Laos, it is one of the most frequently displayed caged live carnivores and skins are traded frequently in at least Vientiane. In parts of Laos, it is considered a delicacy and also traded as a food item to Vietnam.[2]

The Orang Asli of Malaysia keep binturongs as pets.

Conservation

India included the binturong in CITES Appendix III and in Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act 1973, so that it has the highest level of protection. In China, it is listed as critically endangered. It is completely protected in Bangladesh, and partially in Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Licensed hunting of binturong is allowed in Indonesia, and it is not protected in Brunei.[2]

World Binturong Day, an event dedicated to binturong awareness and conservation, takes place yearly every second Saturday of May.[40]

In captivity

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Captive binturong at the Cincinnati Zoo

Binturongs are common in zoos, and captive individuals represent a source of genetic diversity essential for long-term conservation. Their geographic origin is either usually unknown, or they are offspring of several generations of captive-bred animals.[31]

References

  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Species Arctictis binturong". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ a b c d e Willcox, D.H.A.; Chutipong, W.; Gray, T.N.E.; Cheyne, S.; Semiadi, G.; Rahman, H.; Coudrat, C.N.Z.; Jennings, A.; Ghimirey, Y.; Ross, J.; Fredriksson, G. & Tilker, A. (2016). "Arctictis binturong". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T41690A45217088. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Raffles, T. S. (1822). "XVII. Descriptive Catalogue of a Zoological Collection, made on account of the Honourable East India Company, in the Island of Sumatra and its Vicinity, under the Direction of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Fort Marlborough', with additional Notices illustrative of the Natural History of those Countries". The Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. XIII: 239–274.
  4. ^ Temminck, C. R. (1824). "Tableau Méthodique". Monographie des Mammifères. Paris, Amsterdam: G. Dufour et D'Ocagne, Maison de Commerce. p. XXI.
  5. ^ a b c d Pocock, R. I. (1939). "Genus Arctictis Temminck". The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 431–439.
  6. ^ Scherren, H. (1902). "arc-tic-tis". The Encyclopædic Dictionary. London: Cassell and Company. p. 54.
  7. ^ Wilkinson, R. J. (1901). "tenturun". A Malay-English dictionary. Hongkong, Shanghai and Yokohama: Kelly & Walsh Limited. p. 192.
  8. ^ a b Blanford, W. T. (1888–91). "57. Arctictis binturong". The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 117–119.
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  10. ^ a b c Wemmer, C.; J. Murtaugh (1981). "Copulatory Behavior and Reproduction in the Binturong, Arctictis binturong" (PDF). Journal of Mammalogy. 62 (2): 342–352. doi:10.2307/1380710. JSTOR 1380710.
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Binturong: Brief Summary

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The binturong (Arctictis binturong) (/bɪnˈtuːrɒŋ/ bin-TOO-rong), also known as bearcat, is a viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because of a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% since the mid 1980s. The binturong is the only living species in the genus Arctictis.

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