Conservation Status: VULNERABLE
Perhaps it is no surprise that there is a sun bear if there is a “moon bear” (Asian Black Bear).
As the smallest member of the bear family( growing to only about half the size of an American black bear), Malayan sun bears live a reclusive life in the dense lowland forests of Southeast Asia.
Found from southern China to eastern India and Indonesia, sun bears derive their name from the golden or white patch on their chest, which resembles a sun. The bears have a stocky muscular body, small rounded ears, and short muzzle, which has earned them the nickname “dog bear”.
Sun bears, in contrast to what their names indicate, are nocturnal. At night, they lumber through the forests, feeding on fruits, berries, roots, insects, small birds, lizards, and rodents. They have an excellent sense of smell and extremely long claws, which they use to rip open trees and termite nests. They also have an almost comically long tongue for extracting honey from bee nests, giving them their other nickname, “honey bear.”
Because the bears have a very shy personality, gathering conservation data in sun bears is difficult, but their lives are definitely being threatened. Deforestation and poaching remain a significant threat to the wild population of the sun bears.
- “Helarctos Malayanus (Malayan Sun Bear, Sun Bear)”. Iucnredlist.Org, http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9760/0. Accessed 11 Dec 2016.
- “Sun Bear | National Geographic”. Nationalgeographic.Com, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/sun-bear/. Accessed 11 Dec 2016.