The Palawan bearcat is also known as “Musang” in Tagalog
Have I seen one? Yes.
My father raised ducks and native chicken as sideline for rice farming and as farmer-partner of a certain research institution. Back then, in the 80’s, I was still a little boy.
I can’t remember exactly when, but one day, my father was so mad at to something. Got dead chicken and one is missing (Back then got only handful of them you actually can count them or knew each one). The incident continued for three days, victims now include the ducks.
He said it must be the “Pasla” or the bearcat. He then sets a trap.
True enough the next morning, in the trap was this creature like a big cat.
Endemic to Palawan, the “cat” , then, was hunted or killed only because it was considered a pest (only few hunted to be sold to zoos, tourists and researchers).
The Palawan bearcat is also known as “Musang” in Tagalog, “Binturong” in Palaw-an, and “Pasla” in Cuyono. The bearcat is a species of its own, with population in the forests of Palawan, Borneo, Burma and Vietnam. It belongs to the family of Viverridae (civets).
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. It can suspend itself by curling its strong tail around branches. It has coarse and thick black-brown fur.
The Palawan Bearcat inhabits thick vegetation in the lowland forests of Palawan. 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.
They are omnivorous, feeding on both fruits, and small animals like rodents, and birds. This was the reason why they are considered pests by farmers because they prey upon poultry.
Because of increased human activities in their habitat, this mammal may become extinct sooner. Aside from the Philippine Government’s DENR (which ability and/or passion in protecting the environment is often questioned) and PCSD, there are other local organization who showed interest in saving wildlife of Palawan, among them, the Haribon Foundation and Katala Foundation.