Hauser Bears - Worldwide Bear Welfare - Header Image 1

THE
MALAYAN
SUN
BEAR:
(HELARCTOS
MALAYAUNUS)

The Malayan Sun Bear is listed on Appendix I of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which prohibits all international trade in these animals, or products and part thereof since 1979.

They are threatened as most species by habitat loss, poaching, for meat consumption as well as for the pet trade. Illegal logging to clear areas for coffee, oil palms and rubber plants is a problem, and results in more bear-people conflicts. Furthermore, the changing landscape gives the bears little cover and makes them vulnerable to poaching for gall bladders. Wildfires and drought in some of their habitat has also had a detrimental impact on their population, with loss of food supplies as well as suitable forests leading to starvation for some sun bears.

The Sun Bear is the smallest of the bears and is known in Thailand as the dog bear because of its size. it is about a meter long, and weighs only up to 65 kilos.  The name sun bear comes from the golden crescent shape marking on its chest and it also goes by the name Honey bear, because of its love of honey. The species is nocturnal, sleeping in the tree canopies, high above grounds, in nests made of bend branches. Their diet is varied, including vegetation and fruits, some small animals, insects which they use their unusually long tongue to catch. They also use their sharp claws to get to insects inside trees, and these together with hairless pads on their feet, makes them excellent climbers. Little is known about their social habits, but we know that they live for up to 25 years.  Experts disagree as to when they start breeding, some estimating that they are sexually mature after just one year, and others that it may be as late as their fifth year. The cubs are usually born in litters of two and weigh around 300 grams. They are rarely seen, but it is thought that they might be monogamous, as they often travel in pairs.

Their population is unknown as well as their present range, but they are known to be found in Myanmar, Southern China, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia and Sumatra. It is thought that Sun Bear populations may have declined by as much as 30% in the last 30 years, with no signs of recovery at this stage. They used to be found in lowland tropical forests in North eastern India, Southern China, Sumatra and Borneo. They are threatened as most species by habitat loss, poaching, for meat consumption as well as for the pet trade. Illegal logging to clear areas for coffee, oil palms and rubber plants is a problem, and results in more bear-people conflicts. Furthermore, the changing landscape gives the bears little cover and makes them vulnerable to poaching for gall bladders. Wildfires and drought in some of their habitat has also had a detrimental impact on their population, with loss of food supplies as well as suitable forests leading to starvation for some sun bears.