Sun bear and its unique chest marking.
(Adapted from: http://www.mikekaplan.com/pictures/)
During the period from 1997 to 1999, Sun bears were reduced to skin and bones. There was a massive reduction in the production of figs due to El Nino. Hence, famine resulted. Moreover, haze generated from clearing forest land for agriculture had drastic effects on the main pollinators of the fig tree – fig wasps. The fig wasps’ respiratory system gone hay wire and they died. Without these pollinators, it is even more unlikely that figs flowers will fruit. Basically, the sun bears starved; orang utans survived as it got plenty of alternative food source. (Though Mr. Wong doubted they will survive if the famine persisted for a longer period of time).
Bear #120 and its loose skin as a result from starvation.
(Adapted from Mr Wong Siew Te's thesis)
Though natural disasters do threaten the livelihood of these bears, it is largely humans’ inconsiderate and selfish desires that eventually drive these bears to desperation. Besides the famine, other human activities which cause the declination in the sun bear population include harvesting the bear’s gallbladder for medicinal uses, keeping the cubs as pets (cause they are extremely cute, and human likes cute stuff), and extracting the bear’s canines to make accessories.
Cuddly Bear's a victim.
(Adapted from: http://www.wfft.org/news2.htm)
Poor sun bears. It seemed that their lives and future are not that bright afterall. If only people could put in more effort into conservation (for the bears as well as for the environment).
More blogs on Mr Wong Siew Te's talk on sun bears:
The Annotated Budak
Raffles Museum news