The Binturong (Arctictis binturong) is an elusive carnivore of the family Viverridae. Most viverrids are carnivorous and eat small vertebrates and invertebrates. Some species are omnivorous and some feed primarily on fruit and other plant material.
The binturong, also referred to as the Bearcat is long and heavy, with short, stout legs. It has a thick coat of coarse black hair. The Binturong is a carnivore found in the dense forests in South-east Asia.
In 2016 the Binturong was assessed by the Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable, with habitat loss and degradation as the major threats, as is fragmentation, particularly in those parts of the range where hunting pressure is heavy.
The Binturong is scheduled under Appendix III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
As a key component of risk assessment for import into Tasmania, conventional climate modelling was applied to compare the state’s environment with the species’ natural range. CLIMATCH revealed “low” potential for suitable habitat across the entire state, indicating little or no probability that the Binturong could survive in the wild.
The Binturong is classified as “suitable for live import (into Australia) with an import permit” (EPBC Act 1999) for “Eligible non-commercial purposes only”, i.e. by zoological parks. Captive populations are actively managed through the IUCN Survival Program (SSP) and Australasia’s Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA).
The risk assessment determined the Binturong to be moderately dangerous to humans, having a low establishment risk and with a low consequence of establishment. It was therefore proposed the species be assigned to the “moderate” threat category.
Following the initial risk assessment, the Department considers permitting the importation of animals assessed as ‘moderate risk’ into the State as long as appropriate mitigation measures, enforced through a wildlife exhibition licence, can be identified and applied.
Mitigation options to reduce the risk associated with importing the Binturong include:
- Limiting importation to registered wildlife parks or zoos to ensure the holding facility meets the stringent keeping standards Tasmania applies to all institutions.
- Requiring any wildlife park or zoo to submit a Binturong species management plan (including enclosure details) prior to import.
- Requiring the wildlife exhibition facility to have proficient keepers for that particular species.
Binturong Risk Assessment (PDF 140Kb)