- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the smallest of all bear species: the sun bear.
The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), also known as the honey bear, gets its name for its orange-yellow chest patch, which varies in shape and is sometimes totally absent in some individuals. Its range goes from Bangladesh throughout China to Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, and they can be found at altitudes of up to 3,000 m. Its preferred habitats are dense lowland forests, montane evergreen forests and swamp forests. These mammals are omnivorous and highly arboreal. They build large nest platforms from branches for resting and they also climb trees to look for food. When they find a nest they use their powerful claws and extremely long tongue to eat insects, larvae, eggs, honey, beeswax and nesting resin. Adult bears can weigh up to 80 kg and it has been found that they eat more than 100 species of insects and more than 40 species of fruits. Sun bears are either killed in retaliation for crop-raiding or hunted mainly for their gall bladders in traditional Chinese medicine, which has no scientific basis. They are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Watch the video to learn more about this bear!
Special thanks to Dr Matthew Luskin and Mr Jonathan Moore for sharing their camera trap footage taken in Sumatra, Thailand and Borneo. Dr Luskin conducts wildlife sampling in Southeast Asia to study the impacts of oil palm on wildlife communities and Mr Moore’s research focuses primarily on animal-plant interactions.
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Banner photo by Rhett A. Butler