When the Ficus dubia strangler fig growing next to the staff accommodation block at the Maliau Basin Study Centre fruited in May 2021, the large luscious ripe red figs attracted a wide variety of the local wildlife including 3 species of hornbills, Large Green Pigeons and Red Langurs.
At night the fruiting Ficus dubia was visited by this young Binturong. Binturong are fig eating specialists that prefer figs above all other fruits. Binturongs are mainly nocturnal but can sometimes be seen in the day resting near a favored fig tree.
According to Miyabi Nakabayashi Nakabayashi (2018) Binturongs dependence on figs at Danum and Maliau, binturongs appear to be aware of all the fig trees that grow in their territory and visit them on a regular circuit to check on fruiting. When they find a fruiting fig they tend to remain nearby until the crop of ripe figs is exhausted. By tracking binturongs that had been fitted with a radio collar Nakabayashi was able to locate many rare and little known fig trees at Maliau including Ficus cucurbitina, Ficus borneensis and Ficus lawesii .
Photos and information provided by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing WONG of 1Stop Borneo Wildlife.
Binturongs are one of a number of nocturnal Bornean mammals which have a mirror like structure at the back of the eye called a tapetum lucidum which reflects back incoming light like a mirror as shown in this photograph. Most mammals don’t have a tapetum lucidum and the eyes glow red in spot lights at night. This is because they are reflecting back the red blood vessels at the back of the eye.
Note the prehensile tail of the Binturong which is coiled around a branch to provide extra stability. Although many South American monkeys have prehensile tails only two Bornean animals have prehensile tails used in climbing through the branches of trees. These are the pangolin which is an expert tree climber and the binturong. Long furry tails e.g. the tail of a female clouded leopard can be used for balancing but a prehensile tail can actually be coiled around a branch.