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Rare binturong (Bearcat) admitted to CWRC

Nagaon (Assam), May 22, 2013: A binturong also known as a Bearcat was admitted to the Assam Forest Department-IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC). This is for the first time in the CWRC’s decade-long history that this species has been rescued.

The sub-adult male (around 1.5 m long) had reportedly entered a house in Aahomgaon village in the outskirts of Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary, in Nagaon district. The locals then handed it over to the police who informed the Assam Forest Department.

The binturong in an enclosure at CWRC. Photos: Anjan Talukdar/WTI

IFAW-WTI veterinarian Dr Anjan Talukdar said, “Our veterinarian Dr Biswajit brought the animal from Nagaon day before yesterday. The animal appears healthy except that it is blinded in one eye, which looks like a congenital deformity. We are hoping to release the animal and possibly monitor it to learn more about this rare mammal.”

Binturong (Arctictis binturong) is the largest member of the civet family, Viverridae, in India, according to ‘A field guide to Indian mammals’ by Vivek Menon. The guide also mentions that it is almost twice the size of the common palm civet, and is identified by its ‘characteristic thick and muscular prehensile tail, has a black body and long white whiskers and a white edge to its ears’. Juveniles have their head speckled with grey. “It got its name Bearcat, as people confused it to be a small bear because of its size,” said Menon. Threatened by habitat loss and poaching, this species inhabits south of River Brahmaputra in northeast India.

The animal is likely to be rehabilitated soon. Photos: Anjan Talukdar/WTI

Dr NVK Ashraf, WTI’s Chief of Rescue and Conflict Mitigation, said, “In over a decade of CWRC’s existence, this is the first binturong that has showed up, which only goes to show how rare this beautiful animal is. Normally, animals can survive quite easily without one eye, so we're looking at rehabilitating this one as quickly as we can.”

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