On January 5, Kuya Kim Atienza’s show on GMA News Online featured a video captured by a store owner in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It showed a furry, mostly black creature — a little larger than a cat, with a longish nose and white markings on its head and neck — wandering around the sari-sari store floor.

Normally, a wild animal would immediately be chased out of the store premises, but the owner and her family chose not to disturb the creature and instead waited patiently until the animal left their property.

For many Filipinos, this was the first time they had ever seen a Stink Badger. Palawan denizens, however, are generally aware that disturbing this particular animal would result in a potentially terrible experience. Though they closely resemble small Badgers, the animal is more closely related to Skunks, with whom they share a smelly defense mechanism.

And most everyone knows it is not a smart idea to mess with Skunks.


My sole encounter with the Palawan Stink Badger was an unhappy one. My family and I were vacationing in Coron, Palawan, and had hired a van to take us from the airport in Busuanga to our hotel. The route took us down a highway that cut through swaths of rainforest, considered by some as the last ecological frontier in the Philippines.

I was seated beside the driver, and several minutes into the trip, I spotted a furry gray mass lying in the middle of the road.

It is a sad fact that many forest animals fall victim to vehicles that pass through their natural territory. Evolution has yet to equip them with the instincts to avoid these man-made creations.

I was unable to get a good look at the animal carcass before the van drove over it. We were moving quite rapidly, which was why I was surprised by what followed: An awful smell wafted into our vehicle. Though the windows were down, the odor, which reminded me of rotten eggs, lingered for a few seconds, almost causing us to gag.

I asked the driver what was causing the smell. His answer: “Pantot.” At first, I thought he’d said bantot and was remarking on the foul stench. As it turns out, Pantot was the local name for the animal which, in reaction to impending demise, had probably released its entire defensive chemical arsenal.


Mydaus marchei is found only in the province of Palawan, both on the main island and its neighboring islands, Busuanga and Calauit. They are one of two species of Stink Badger; a cousin, Mydaus javanensis, can be found only in Indonesia.

Stink Badgers were previously believed to be members of the Mustelidae family, which includes Weasels, Stoats, Marten, Wolverines, Otters, and Badgers. They more closely resemble Badgers with their stocky bodies, short powerful limbs, and stubby tails and so for a long time were classified as belonging to the same family.

More recent genetic findings, however, lead them to be reclassified under the family Mephitidae, which include the American and European Skunks to which they are believed to be more closely related. And as mentioned earlier, these unassuming-looking mammals share their relatives’ defensive abilities which can make unfriendly encounters with them highly unpleasant for anyone lacking a strong stomach.

Though they lack the bushy fur and long tail of skunks, Stink Badgers possess the same highly developed anal scent glands as their more familiar cousins. These glands produce a liquid made up of pungent, sulfur-based compounds that they are able to spray at potential enemies up to a meter away. The stench is said to be detectable up to a mile away, which explains why in our Coron encounter, we could still smell the creature even after our van had gone several hundred meters past the carcass.


The Palawan store owner whose establishment was invaded by a Stink Badger sensed the Animal before actually spotting it. “Nakakahilo ang baho (The stink made me dizzy),” was how she described the odor when interviewed. It comes as no surprise that this is one of the few wild animals local farmers do not consider a source of food (though some Palawan tribes have been known to trap and consume the animal).

Aside from being powerful, the smell is long-lasting and can be difficult to wash off one’s clothes or skin. The best thing one can do when confronted by such creatures is to stay as still as possible and leave them alone until they decide to go away. Any move

that a Pantot may perceive as a threat might result in one’s having to avoid personal contact with others for the next few days.


Though the Palawan Stink Badger was described as “surprisingly common” in the 1970s, it is now considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is not known

if habitat loss has affected this animal’s population, but, being an endemic species that only inhabits two islands, their conservation is cause for concern according to the group Tanggol Kalikasan, especially since little is known about the reproductive behavior of the species.

Though there are no documented cases of predators attacking and consuming Stink Badgers in Palawan, in Indonesia, Stink Badgers have been known to fall prey to Civets, Snakes, and Raptors. It is likely that since the same predators exist in Palawan, they occasionally include the Pantot as a source of nourishment.


Palawan Stink Badgers are nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on invertebrates, usually Worms or small Arthropods, whom they dig out of the ground with their powerful claws. They sometimes excavate dens where they sleep during the daytime.

The liquid they spray is their only defense against potential predators and they have been noted to emit a warning snarl when threatened prior to launching their chemical weapon.

Though they primarily inhabit primary and secondary forests, Stink Badgers are tolerant of human presence and can survive in agricultural and even urban areas, which is why even Palawan city dwellers are fairly familiar with them and their habits and know that these animals should be given a wide berth when encountered.


The biggest threat to this little-known creature is, as you may have guessed, humans. While generally people do not hunt Stink Badgers or keep them as pets, their activities nevertheless impact them significantly.

Slow-moving and poor-sighted, Stink Badgers are thought to be especially vulnerable to getting run over by vehicles as they cross the growing number of roads that have popped up in their habitat. My sad encounter in Coron is testimony to this.

With the continued development of infrastructure projects throughout Palawan, it is inevitable that highways running through once pristine forests will increase, and will result in an uptick of road-killed animals.

Numerous studies have shown that wildlife abundance decreases close to roads. Though no studies have been conducted on how badly the Palawan Stink Badger has been affected, there is enough anecdotal evidence of wild animals in general ending up as roadkill for us to worry about how this relentless incursion into their habitat is disturbing those for whom these areas have long served as home.


The liquid that Palawan Stink Badgers spray is their only defense against potential predators. They have been noted to emit a warning snarl when threatened prior to launching their chemical weapon.