Contrary to speculation, a strange-looking animal crawling through the wreckage of a palm plantation is not from another planet. Instead, it is an indication of the tragic status of the one we're on.
The video features a sun bear, which when healthy looks like this:
Credit: Cuson via Shutterstock. What a healthy sun bear looks like.
Exactly why the creature in the video looks more like Gollum is not yet known. However, the plantation workers' response offers some clues.
“We were shocked. None of us has ever seen such thing. One of us then hit the animal until it appeared to have passed out,” a worker told the Borneo Post. “It could be a rare species of bear. When it regained consciousness, we forced it to go back into the jungle.” The video shows the stunned bear fleeing after the attack.
On social media sites, the distressed creature was dubbed the "Malaysian Chupacabra" after the mythical creature some people thought was captured last year. Others opted for an extraterrestrial explanation, apparently convinced space offers more than the incredible diversity of life on Earth. However, the identification as a sun bear has been confirmed by multiple sources.
Facebook group Nature Talks Back have used the video to draw attention to the plight of animals in Borneo. The extraordinary richness of the rainforests of Borneo are being sacrificed for palm plantations at a terrifying rate, fed by a refusal of many large corporations to pay a premium for sustainably grown palm oil.
Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are among the species threatened as a result, having already been wiped out from more than half their previous range. Although hunted commercially on the Southeast Asian mainland, in Borneo the main threat to the sun bear is deforestation, which is simultaneously threatening dozens of other species.
Anyone spurred to action by the piteous sight might wish to start by consuming products made with sustainable palm oil, or avoiding the product entirely. There are also a number of organizations who can use your money to protect sun bears specifically, or the rainforests in which they and so many other species live.
H/T: The Dodo