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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

Binturongs: The Mysterious Animal-People of Southeast Asia Rainforests

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We binturong-people also go by the moniker of “bear-cats” since our faces resemble those of cat-people, while our silhouettes evoke an image of bear-people, although we are neither! In terms of linage, we belong to viverrids and are closest to the palm civet family.

Nature has also granted us a long, thick fur coat, which is dark brown to black with gray highlights, and round ears with long, straight tufts. We also have thick, lengthy whiskers above our eyes and on our cheeks, and our elliptical pupils help us adapt to different lighting conditions. We binturong folk have some unique traits. Firstly, we walk on our flat legs slowly and amble like bear-individuals when on the ground. Secondly, due to the weight of our frame, we do not leap from tree to tree like most arboreal folk, but rather we descend the one we are on, walk along the ground to the next, and then climb up. We also express ourselves through various sounds, including wails, howls, grunts, or hisses when we need to be defensive. We also laugh, making chuckling sounds when we are happy.

We are primarily frugivorous. Our binturong family plays a vital role in rainforest ecosystems by spreading seeds. Furthermore, we also soften the outer shell of the seeds of figs, our main food source, in our digestive system, making us perfect for the role of ensuring that hard shelled seeds continue to propagate throughout the forests.

In 2008, the binturong-people were inscribed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of endangered or rapidly declining species. Binturong-people are often called keystone species in our ecosystems. “A keystone species is a species which has a disproportionately large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance.” This is a definition described by the famous zoologist Dr. Robert T. Paine.

Our own wisdom points to a simple solution that benefits all co-inhabitants alike, as well as all of the natural world! If all our human guardians were to adopt a vegan lifestyle, our habitat and countless others would be restored and thrive again!

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