Sun Bears in the Sunny Tropics

 Fireflyz Issue003, Jan 2014

By Ravinder Kaur

Ravinder Kaur shares her experience and her love for these vulnerable creatures

When I was a child, a zookeeper brought a Sun Bear cub towards me. The cub placed its paw in my hand and I was taken aback. Even at such a tender age, the bear had very menacing claws! Most Malaysians are unaware of the fact that there are bears in their tropical rain forest. The smallest of all bear species in the world, the Sun Bear roams the tropical evergreen rainforest of Borneo, Sumatra, and Peninsular Malaysia.

Being omnivores by nature, they feed on termites, ants, honey and figs. They are usually solitary animals and do not hibernate. Interestingly the female bears use natural tree hollows as bathing sites. The two major threats to sun bears are habitat loss and commercial hunting. The sun bear has been listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Being a Malaysian, I take pride in the fact that The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in the only sun bear conservation centre in the world. It was founded in Sabah in the year 2008 as a two stage effort to provide care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears. It also aims to increase awareness about these majestic bears. For more information on these bears, talk to the expects directly at www.bsbcc.org.my

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