Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Tee Thye Lim and Chiew Lin May
The sun bear is the smallest and least studied of the eight bear species in the world. Unfortunately, the number of sun bears is declining. Their population has decreased by 30 percent over the past 30 years and they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The causes for this decline are illegal poaching, illegal pet trade and habitat loss, putting their future in jeopardy.
Our project of studying the wild sun bears in Tabin Wildlife Reserve has kicked off!!
Currently Thye Lim is running the project for his masters at Sunway University, and he is conducting this study to estimate the population density of sun bear. The study will be conducted in the biggest forest reserve in Sabah (Latitude 5°12’51”N and Longitude 118° 43’11”E). Tabin Wildlife Reserve was gazetted in 1984.
A total of twenty camera traps will be in use (Moultrie M-999i). One camera will be placed at each station. To increase the detection of sun bears, we set up camera traps along animal trails and on trees which had any signs of sun bears (e.g. claw marks), or on fig trees.
Type of bear signs :
This study is supported by the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), Lancaster University (UK) and Sunway University (Malaysia). This is a collaborative project by Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and BSBCC.
There are fantastic pictures which have been taken by camera traps during our sun bear study and we will keep you updated on more photos as they come!