The bearcat of Borneo
The bearcat of Borneo I’ve always been fascinated by an animal called the Binturong AKA the Bearcat.
These animals look like a combination if an otter with long, shaggy hair, the head of a bear, the claws of a cat and the tail of monkey. They are found throughout parts of South-east Asia, mainly in the trees of the jungle. I decided I wanted to travel into the jungle to look for this shy and elusive creature and what better place to explore than the vast jungles of Borneo.
From my home in Perth, Australia I flew to Kuala Lumpur and then took a domestic flight to Sabah, which is the North part of Borneo (owned by Malaysia). From there I took another domestic flight over to Sandakan on the eastern side of Sabah and a long bus ride into the jungle.
We based ourselves at the Sepilok Jungle Resort, which is located right next to a large area of wild forest. From there we trekked out into the wilderness and planned on spending several nights camping. The jungle here is thick and instantly we can feel leaches attaching themselves to our body. have never been in such a noisy jungle in my life and we were constantly deafened by the sound of giant cicadas.
I searched the trees and ground for any evidence of the Bearcat. found footprints in the mud which were definitely that of a Bearcat. After tracking the prints for sometime I heard a crashing sound from a nearby tree. I looked up and instantly knew the animal that was making all the noise. It was a wild Orangutan! I was in awe of the majesty and how graceful this ape was in the trees. It allowed us to get very close to it and seemed very curious about us. The Orangutan then decided to urinate on us from the tree. This is what I call “jungle rain” as many primates have peed on me from the trees.
As the nights went by we still had not caught a glimpse of the Bearcat. We had found many frog and snake species and even saw two Sun bears. One of the snakes I managed to catch was the highly venomous Borneo blue coral snake. This is the Bornean subspecies of the Malaysian blue coral snake and is extremely rare. In fact this is the first time this species of snake has ever been filmed. They call this snake ‘The killer of killers’ as it has been seen eating young King cobras. A bite from this snake, in such a remote are like where we were, would have ended in certain death.
After 13 days searching through the jungle
we had run out of time and unfortunately we never found the wild Bearcat. As we were getting ready to drive to the airport, we caught word that a Bearcat had been rescued from a nearby palm oil plantation. We decided to make a detour and see this animal in the flesh. Although it wasn’t wild, it was still an awesome experience to spend time with such a bizarre animal. These creatures are also known for smelling like popcorn and I can now safely confirm that they do.
If you want to watch this adventure, youtube search ‘The Bearcat of Borneo (full length)’