Sloth bear

The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is an insectivorous bear species native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, mainly because of habitat loss and degradation.[1] It has also been called labiated bear because of its long lower lip and palate used for sucking insects.[2] Compared to brown and black bears, the sloth bear is lankier, has a long, shaggy fur and a mane around the face, and long, sickle-shaped claws. It evolved from the ancestral brown bear during the Pleistocene and through convergent evolution shares features found in insect-eating mammals.

Sloth bears breed during spring and early summer and give birth near the beginning of winter. They feed on termites, honeybee colonies, and fruits. Sloth bears sometimes attack humans who encroach on their territories. Historically, humans have drastically reduced their habitat and diminished their population by hunting them for food and products such as their bacula and claws. Sloth bears have been tamed and used as performing pets.[3]

Sloth bear
Temporal range: Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene – recent
Sloth Bear Washington DC
A sloth bear at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Subfamily: Ursinae
Genus: Melursus
Meyer, 1793
Species:
M. ursinus
Binomial name
Melursus ursinus
(Shaw, 1791)
Sloth Bear area
Sloth bear range
(black – former, green – extant)
Synonyms
  • Bradypus ursinus Shaw, 1791
  • Melursus lybius Meyer, 1793

Taxonomy

Shaw in 1791 named the species Bradypus ursinus. In 1793, Meyer named it Melursus lybius, and in 1817, de Blainville named it Ursus labiatus because of its long lips. Illiger named it Prochilus hirsutus, the Greek genus name indicating long lips, while the specific name noted its long and coarse hair. Fischer called it Chondrorhynchus hirsutus, while Tiedemann named it Ursus longirostris.[4]

Subspecies and range

Bear - Melursus ursinus at Bannerghatta National Park 8469
Sloth bear

Evolution

Sloth bears may have reached their current form in the Early Pleistocene, the time when the bear family specialized and dispersed. A fragment of fossilized humerus from the Pleistocene, found in Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool Basin is identical to the humerus of a modern sloth bear. The fossilized skulls of a bear once named Melursus theobaldi found in the Shivaliks from the Early Pleistocene or Early Pliocene are thought by certain authors to represent an intermediate stage between sloth bears and ancestral brown bears. M. theobaldi itself had teeth intermediate in size between sloth bears and other bear species, though its palate was the same size as the former species, leading to the theory that it is the sloth bear's direct ancestor. Sloth bears probably arose during the Middle Pliocene and evolved in the Indian subcontinent. The sloth bear shows evidence of having undergone a convergent evolution similar to that of other ant-eating mammals.[11]

Characteristics

Slothbearskulls
Skulls of a Sri Lankan sloth bear (left) and a common sloth bear (right) from the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
Melursus skull
Sloth bear skull: note the lack of two upper incisors

Sloth bears adults are a medium-sized species though weight can range variously from 55 to 105 kg (121 to 231 lb) in typically-sized females and from 80 to 145 kg (176 to 320 lb) in typically-sized males. Exceptionally large specimens of females can scale up to 124 kg (273 lb) and males up to 192 kg (423 lb).[13][14][15][16] The average weight of sloth bears from the nominate subspecies in Nepal was 95 kg (209 lb) in females and 114 kg (251 lb) in males.[17] Nominate bears in India were found to weigh average 93.2 kg (205 lb) in males and 83.3 kg (184 lb) per one study.[18] Specimens from Sri Lanka (M. u. inornatus) may weight up to 68.2 kg (150 lb) in females and 104.5 kg (230 lb) in males.[19] However six Sri Lankan male sloth bears averaged only 74.8 kg (165 lb) and 57.5 kg (127 lb) was the average for four females, so Sri Lankan bears could be up to at least 30% lighter in body mass than nominate race bears and with apparent far more pronounced size sexual dimorphism.[19][20] They are 60–92 cm (2 ft 0 in–3 ft 0 in) high at the shoulder, and have a body length of 1.4–1.9 m (4 ft 7 in–6 ft 3 in).[21][22][23][24][25] Besides being smaller than males, females reportedly typically have more fur between their shoulders.[26]

Sloth bear muzzles are thick and long, with small jaws and bulbous snouts with wide nostrils. They have long lower lips which can be stretched over the outer edge of their noses, and lack upper incisors, thus allowing them to suck up large numbers of insects. The premolars and molars are smaller than in other bears, as they do not chew as much vegetation. In adults, the teeth are usually in poor condition, due to the amount of soil they suck up and chew when feeding on insects.[21] The back of the palate is long and broad, as is typical in other ant-eating mammals.[11] The paws are disproportionately large, and have highly developed, sickle-shaped, blunt claws which measure 10 cm (4 in) in length. Their toe pads are connected by a hairless web. They have the longest tail in the bear family, which can grow to 15–18 cm (6–7 in).[21] Their back legs are not very strong, though they are knee-jointed, and allow them to assume almost any position.[26] The ears are very large and floppy. The sloth bear is the only bear with long hair on its ears.[7]

Sloth bear fur is completely black (rusty for some specimens), save for a whitish Y- or V-shaped mark on the chest.[21] This feature is sometimes absent, particularly in Sri Lankan specimens.[11] This feature, which is also present in Asian black bears and sun bears, is thought to serve as a threat display, as all three species are sympatric with tigers (tigers usually do not carry out attacks on an adult bear if the bear is aware or facing the cat).[11] The coat is long, shaggy, and unkempt, despite the relatively warm environment in which the species is found, and is particularly heavy behind the neck and between the shoulders, forming a mane which can be 30 cm (12 in) long.[11][21] The belly and underlegs can be almost bare. Sloth bears are usually about the same size as an Asian black bear but are immediately distinctive for their shaggier coat, whitish claws, as well as their typically rangier build. Their head and mouth is highly distinct from that of a black bear with a longer, narrower skull shape (particularly the snout), loose-looking, flappier lips and paler muzzle colour. In few areas of overlap, sloth bear confusion with sun bears is unlikely, given the latter species considerably smaller size, much shorter fur, wrinkled folding skin (especially around the back), bolder chest marking and drastically different, more compact head structure and appearance.[25][27]

Distribution and habitat

The sloth bear's global range includes India, the southern lowlands of Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It is regionally extinct in Bangladesh. It occurs in a wide range of habitats including wet and dry tropical forests, savannahs, scrublands, and grasslands below 1,500 m (4,900 ft) on the Indian subcontinent, and below 300 m (980 ft) in Sri Lanka's dry forests.[1]

Behaviour and ecology

SlothBearTree
A Sri Lankan sloth bear in a tree

Adult sloth bears may travel in pairs, with the males being gentle with cubs. They may fight for food. They walk in a slow, shambling motion, with their feet being set down in a noisy, flapping motion. They are capable of galloping faster than running humans.[28] Although they appear slow and clumsy, both young and adult sloth bears are excellent climbers.[29] They occasionally will climb to feed and to rest, though not to escape enemies, as they prefer to stand their ground. Sloth bear mothers carry cubs up to 9 months old on their backs instead of sending their cubs up trees as the primary defense against attacks by predators, such as tigers, leopards, and other bears.[30] They are adequate climbers on more accessible trees but cannot climb as quickly or on as varied surfaces as can black bears due to the sloth species' more elongated claw structure. Given their smaller size and still shorter claws, sloth bear cubs probably climb more proficiently than adults (much as brown bear cubs can climb well but not adults).[21] They are good swimmers, and primarily enter water to play.[21] To mark their territories, sloth bears scrape trees with their forepaws, and rub against them with their flanks.[28] Sloth bears have a great vocal range. Gary Brown, in his Great Bear Almanac, lists over 25 different sounds in 16 different contexts. Sounds such as barks, screams, grunts, roars, snarls, whickers, woofs, and yelps are made when angered, threatening, or when fighting. When hurt or afraid, they shriek, yowl, or whimper. When feeding, sloth bears make loud huffing and sucking noises,[28] which can be heard over 100 m away.[21] Sounds such as gurgling or humming are made by bears resting or sucking their paws. Sows emit crooning sounds to their cubs. The species is the most vociferous when mating, and make loud, melodious calls when doing so. Sloth bears do not hibernate. They make their day beds out of broken branches in trees, and rest in caves during the wet season. Sloth bears are the most nocturnal of bears, though sows become more active in daytime when with cubs.[28]

Reproduction

MelursusUrsinusFemaleCub
A mother with a cub on her back at the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary, India
Sloth bear cubs by Samad Kottur
Seven-day-old sloth bear cubs, rescued from a building site where they had been born

The breeding season for sloth bears varies according to location: in India, they mate in April, May, and June, and give birth in December and early January, while in Sri Lanka, it occurs all year. Sows gestate for 210 days, and typically give birth in caves or in shelters under boulders. Litters usually consist of one or two cubs, or rarely three.[28] Cubs are born blind, and open their eyes after four weeks.[31] Sloth bear cubs develop quickly compared to most other bear species: they start walking a month after birth, become independent at 24–36 months, and become sexually mature at the age of three years. Young cubs ride on their mother's back when she walks, runs, or climbs trees until they reach a third of her size. Individual riding positions are maintained by cubs through fighting. Intervals between litters can last two to three years.[28]

Dietary habits

Sloth bears are expert hunters of termites, which they locate by smell.[28] On arriving at a mound, they scrape at the structure with their claws till they reach the large combs at the bottom of the galleries, and disperse the soil with violent puffs. The termites are then sucked up through the muzzle, producing a sucking sound which can be heard 180 m away.[31] Their sense of smell is strong enough to detect grubs 3 ft below ground. Unlike other bears, they do not congregate in feeding groups. They rarely prey on other mammals.[28] Sloth bears may supplement their diets with fruit and plant matter; in March and April, they eat the fallen petals of mowha trees and are partial to mangoes, sugar cane, jackfruit, and the pods of the golden shower tree. Sloth bears are extremely fond of honey.[31] When feeding their cubs, sows are reported to regurgitate a mixture of half-digested jack fruit, wood apples, and pieces of honeycomb. This sticky substance hardens into a dark yellow, circular, bread-like mass which is fed to the cubs. This "bear's bread" is considered a delicacy by some of India's natives.[32]

Relationships with other animals

The large canine teeth of sloth bears, relative to both its overall body size and to the size of the canine teeth of other bear species, and the aggressive disposition of sloth bears, may be a defense in interactions with large, dangerous animals, such as the tiger, elephant, and rhinoceros.[33]

Bengal tigers occasionally prey on sloth bears. Tigers usually give sloth bears a wide berth, though some specimens may become habitual bear killers,[34] and it is not uncommon to find sloth bear fur in tiger scats.[35] Tigers typically hunt sloth bears by waiting for them near termite mounds, then creeping behind them and seizing them by the back of their necks and forcing them to the ground with their weight.[36] One tiger was reported to simply break its victim's back with its paw, then wait for the paralysed bear to exhaust itself trying to escape before going in for the kill.[34] When confronted by tigers face to face, sloth bears charge at them, crying loudly. A young or already sated tiger usually retreats from an assertive sloth bear, as the bear's claws can inflict serious wounds, and most tigers end the hunt if the bears become aware of the tiger's presence before the pounce.[36] Sloth bears may scavenge on tiger kills.[37] As tigers are known to mimic the calls of sambar deer to attract them, sloth bears react fearfully even to the sounds made by deer themselves.[36] In 2011, a female bear with cubs was observed to stand her ground and prevail in a confrontation against two tigers (one female, one male) in rapid succession.[38]

Besides tigers there are few predators of sloth bears. However, leopards can also be a threat, as they are able to follow sloth bears up trees.[15] Bear cubs are probably far more vulnerable and healthy adult bears may be avoided by leopards. One leopard killed a three-quarters grown female sloth bear in an apparently lengthy fight that culminated in the trees. Apparently, a sloth bear killed a leopard in a confrontation in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka but was itself badly injured in the fight and put down by park rangers subsequently.[39][40] Sloth bears occasionally chase leopards from their kills.[28] Dhole packs may attack sloth bears.[41] When attacking them, dholes try to prevent the bear from retreating into caves.[42] Unlike tigers which prey on sloth bears of all size, there is little evidence that dholes are a threat to fully-grown sloth bears other than exceptionally rare cases.[25][43] In one case, a golden jackal (a species much smaller and less powerful than a sloth bear and not generally a pack hunter as is the dhole) was seen to aggressively displace an adult bear which passively loped away from the snapping canid, indicating the sloth bear does not regard other carnivores as competition.[15]

Sloth bears are sympatric with Asiatic black bears in northern India, and the two species, along with the sun bear, coexist in some of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They are also found together in Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram, in the hills south of the Brahmaputra River, the only places occupied by all three bear species. The three species do not act aggressively toward each other. This may be because the three species generally differ in habit and dietary preferences.[15]

Asian elephants apparently do not tolerate sloth bears in their vicinity. The reason for this is unknown, as individual elephants known to maintain their composure near tigers have been reported to charge bears.[31] The Indian rhinoceros has a similar intolerance for sloth bears, and will charge at them.[28]

Status and conservation

IUCN estimates that fewer than 20,000 sloth bears survive in the wilds of the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. The sloth bear is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides for their legal protection. International trade of the sloth bear is prohibited as it is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.[1]

To address the human-bear conflict, people may be educated about the conservation ethics, particularly among locals. To resolve this conflict, the basic issue of deteriorating habitat, which is the reason for the conflict between people and bears, improvements through government or community-based reforestation programmes, may be promoted.[1]

The population of sloth bears grows when they live in high-profile reserves that protect species, such as tigers and elephants. Directly managed reserves could conserve the sloth bear, hence such reserves must be supported.[44]

The government of India has banned use of sloth bears for entertainment, and a 'Sloth Bear Welfare Project' in the country has the objective of putting an end to their use for entertainment. However, their number in such activity is still large. Many organizations are helping in the conservation and preservation of sloth bears in safe places. Major sloth bear sanctuaries in India include the Daroji bear sanctuary, Karnataka.[45]

Relationships with humans

Attacks on humans

A fragile co-existence of between sloth bears and humans at Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sactuary, Dahod, Gujarat, India
A fragile co-existence between sloth bears and humans at Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Dahod district, Gujarat, India

Sloth bears are one of the most aggressive extant bears and, due to large human populations often closely surrounding reserves that hold bears, aggressive encounters and attacks are unfortunately relatively frequent. Going on raw numbers, this is the species of bear that most regularly attacks humans. A single Indian district seems to report a roughly equal number of fatalities for humans each year from sloth bears as do the entire nearly circumpolar range of brown bears. Only the Himalayan black bear subspecies of Asian black bear is nearly as dangerous.[46][47][48] Sloth bears likely view humans as potential predators, as their reactions to them (roaring, followed by retreat or charging) are similar to those evoked in the presence of tigers and leopards.[11] Their long claws, ideally adapted for digging at termite mounds, make adults less capable of climbing trees to escape danger, as are other bears such as Asian black bears. Therefore, sloth bears have seemingly evolved to deal with threats by behaving aggressively. For the same reason, brown bears can be similarly inclined, accounting for the relatively high incidence of seemingly nonpredatory aggression towards humans in these two bear species.[49]

According to Robert Armitage Sterndale, in his Mammalia of India (1884, p. 62):

[The sloth bear] is also more inclined to attack man unprovoked than almost any other animal, and casualties inflicted by it are unfortunately very common, the victim being often terribly disfigured even if not killed, as the bear strikes at the head and face. Blanford was inclined to consider bears more dangerous than tigers...

Captain Williamson in his Oriental Field Sports wrote of how sloth bears rarely killed their human victims outright, but would suck and chew on their limbs till they were reduced to bloody pulps.[2] One specimen, known as the sloth bear of Mysore, was responsible for the deaths of 12 people and the mutilation of 24 others. It was shot by Kenneth Anderson.[50] Although sloth bears have attacked humans, they rarely become man-eaters. Dunbar-Brander's Wild Animals of Central India mentions a case in which a sow with two cubs began a six-week reign of terror in Chanda, a district of the Central Provinces, during which more than one of their victims had been eaten,[51] while the sloth bear of Mysore partially ate at least three of its victims.[50] R.G. Burton deduced from comparing statistics that sloth bears killed more people than Asian black bears,[51] and Theodore Roosevelt considered them to be more dangerous than American black bears.[52] Unlike some other bear species, which at times make mock charges at humans when surprised or frightened without making physical contact, sloth bears frequently appear to initiate a physical attack almost immediately. When people living near an aggressive population of sloth bears were armed with rifles, it was found that it was an ineffective form of defense, since the bear apparently charges and knocks the victim back (often knocking the rifle away) before the human has the chance to defend himself.[53][54] In Madhya Pradesh, sloth bear attacks accounted for the deaths of 48 people and the injuring of 686 others between 1989 and 1994, probably due in part to the density of population and competition for food sources.[55] A total of 137 attacks (resulting in 11 deaths) occurred between April 1998 and December 2000 in the North Bilaspur Forest Division of Chhattisgarh. The majority of attacks were perpetrated by single bears, and occurred in kitchen gardens, crop fields, and in adjoining forests during the monsoon season.[56] One Mr. Watts Jones wrote a first-hand account of how it feels to be attacked by a sloth bear, recalling when he failed to score a direct hit against a bear he had targeted:

I do not know exactly what happened next, neither does my hunter who was with me; but I believe, from the marks in the snow, that in his rush the bear knocked me over backwards in fact, knocked me three or four feet away. When next I remember anything, the bear's weight was on me, and he was biting my leg. He bit two or three times. I felt the flesh crush, but I felt no pain at all. It was rather like having a tooth out with gas. I felt no particular terror, though I thought the bear had got me; but in a hazy sort of way I wondered when he would kill me, and thought what a fool I was to get killed by a stupid beast like a bear. The shikari then very pluckily came up and fired a shot into the bear, and he left me. I felt the weight lift off me, and got up. I did not think I was much hurt. ... The main wound was a flap of flesh torn out of the inside of my left thigh and left hanging. It was fairly deep, and I could see all the muscles working underneath when I lifted it up to clean the wound."[57]

In 2016, according to a forest official, a female bear had killed 3 people, and hurt 5 others in Gujarat State's Banaskantha district, near Balaram Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary, with some of the casualties being colleagues. At first, an attempt was made to trace and cage it, but this failed, costing the life of one official, and so a team of both officials and policemen shot the bear.[9]

Hunting and products

Sloth bear hunt
Illustration of British officers hunting a sloth bear on horseback

One method of hunting sloth bears involved the use of beaters, in which case, a hunter waiting on a post could either shoot the approaching bear through the shoulder or on the white chest mark if it was moving directly to him. Sloth bears are very resistant to body shots, and can charge hunters if wounded, though someone of steady nerves could score a direct hit from within a few paces of a charging bear. Sloth bears were easy to track during the wet season, as their clear footprints could be followed straight to their lairs. The majority of sloth bears killed in forests were due to chance encounters with them during hunts for other game. In hilly or mountainous regions, two methods were used to hunt them there. One was to lie in wait above the bear's lair at dawn and wait for the bear to return from its nocturnal foraging. Another was to rouse them at daytime by firing flares into the cave to draw them out.[58] Sloth bears were also occasionally speared on horseback.[7] In Sri Lanka, the baculum of a sloth bear was once used as a charm against barrenness.[26]

Tameability

Pushkar-bear and handler
A tame bear and its handler in Pushkar

Officers in British India often kept sloth bears as pets.[31] The wife of Kenneth Anderson kept an orphaned sloth bear cub from Mysore, which she named "Bruno". The bear could be fed on almost anything (including motor oil) and was very affectionate toward people. It was even taught numerous tricks, such as cradling a woodblock like a baby or pointing a bamboo stick like a gun.[59]

Dancing bears were historically a popular entertainment in India, dating back to the 13th century and the pre-Mughal era. The Kalandars, who practised the tradition of capturing sloth bears for entertainment purposes, were often employed in the courts of Mughal emperors to stage spectacles involving trained bears.[31] They were once common in the towns of Calcutta, where they often disturbed the horses of British officers.[31]

Despite a ban on the practice that was enacted in 1972, as many as 800 dancing bears were in the streets of India during the latter part of the 20th century, particularly on the highway between Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Sloth bear cubs, which were usually purchased at the age of six months from traders and poachers, were trained to dance and follow commands through coercive stimuli and starvation. Males were castrated at an early age, and their teeth were knocked out at the age of one year to prevent them from seriously injuring their handlers. The bears were typically fitted with a nose ring attached to a four-foot leash. Some were found to be blind from malnutrition.[60]

In 2009, following a seven-year campaign by a coalition of Indian and international animal welfare groups, the last Kalandar dancing bear was set free.[61] The effort to end the practice involved helping the bear handlers find jobs and education, which enabled them to reduce their reliance on dancing-bear income.[62]

Cultural references

Sloth bear Ursine sloth, Shaw
Sloth bear illustrated by Frederick Polydore Nodder, 1789

Charles Catton included the bear in his 1788 book Animals Drawn from Nature and Engraved in Aqua-tinta, describing it as an "animal of the bear-kind" and saying it was properly called the "Petre Bear".[63]

In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Baloo "the sleepy old brown bear" teaches the Law of the Jungle to the wolf cubs of the Seeonee wolf pack, as well as to his most challenging pupil, the "man-cub" Mowgli. Robert Armitage Sterndale, from whom Kipling derived most of his knowledge of Indian fauna, used the Hindustani word bhalu for several bear species, though Daniel Karlin, who edited the Penguin Classics reissue of The Jungle Book in 1989, stated, with the exception of colour, Kipling's descriptions of Baloo are consistent with the sloth bear, as brown bears and Asian black bears do not occur in the Seoni area where the novel takes place. Also, the name "sloth" can be used in the context of sleepiness. Karlin states, however, that Baloo's diet of ".. only roots and nuts and honey" is a trait more common to the Asian black bear than to the sloth bear.[64]

Local names:

References

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External links

Baloo

Baloo (, from Hindi: भालू bhālū "bear") is a main fictional character featured in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book from 1894 and The Second Jungle Book from 1895. Baloo, a sloth bear, is the strict teacher of the cubs of the Seeonee wolf pack. His most challenging pupil is the "man-cub" Mowgli. Baloo and Bagheera, a panther, save Mowgli from Shere Khan the tiger and endeavor to teach Mowgli the Law of the Jungle in many of The Jungle Book stories.

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 15°30′23″N 74°23′30″E in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka state in India. The sanctuary covers an area of 866.41 km2 (334.52 sq mi).

Along with neighboring Anshi National Park (339.87 square kilometres (83,980 acres)), the sanctuary was declared part of the Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve in 2006. Karnataka state government has officially notified the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant on 4 June 2015. The elephant reserve is spread over 2,321 km2, including 475 km2 as core and the remaining as buffer areas. This is the second elephant reserve in Karnataka after Mysuru Elephant Reserve, which was declared in 2002.Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a birdwatchers paradise, housing nearly 200 species of birds, most famous for the great hornbill (great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill) and the Malabar pied hornbill. It is also the only known tiger reserve in India to report frequent sightings of the elusive black panther. It is also known to house the Indian sloth bear, the Indian pangolin, the giant Malabar squirrel, dhole, the Indian jackal and the muntjac (barking deer). Sightings of the Indian elephant and the Indian peafowl are pretty common. The king cobra and the mugger crocodile (Indian crocodile) are the prime reptilians in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.

The forests in Dandeli are a mixture of dense deciduous trees interspersed with bamboo and teak plantations.

Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary

Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is located in Ballari district in Karnataka. It is spread over 82.72 km2 (31.94 sq mi). The sanctuary was created exclusively for the preservation of the sloth bear. It is about 50 km from Ballari and about 15 km from the World Heritage Site Hampi. The area between Daroji in Sandur taluka and Ramasagar of Hospet Taluk is host to numerous sloth bears.

In October 1994, the Government of Karnataka, declared 5587.30 hectares of the Bilikallu Forest Reserve as Daroji Bear Sanctuary. 15 years later, in October 2009, the government added 2685.50 hectares of the Bukkasagara Forest Reserve to the sanctuary. This resulted in the overall area to increase from 5587.3 hectares to 8272.8 hectares.

The sanctuary is open between 14:00 and 18:00 every day. There is a watchtower within the sanctuary, opposite Karadikallu Gudda, that provides a vantage point to view the bears descending from the adjacent hillocks during evening hours.

Devgadh Baria

Devgadh Baria is a municipality in Dahod district in the state of Gujarat, India. It is a small town nestled in the foothills on the eastern border of Gujarat State. It is 44 kilometers from Godhra in the west, 54 kilometers from Dahod in the east and 14 kilometers south of Ahmedabad-Indore highway (National Highway 59). It was stronghold and homeland of Baria Kolis. It was established in 1782. The Baria State was ruled by Chauhan kings until its merger with the Union of India. The last ruler of Devgadh Baria was married to a daughter of Gayatri Devi of Jaipur. Rajasthan, India.

Gudekote Wildlife Sanctuary

Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary is located in Ballari district in Karnataka, India. It is spread over 38.48 km2 (14.86 sq mi). The sanctuary was created exclusively for the preservation of the sloth bear.

In November 2013, the Government of Karnataka, declared 3848.84 hectares of the Gudekote Forest Reserve (Block A), Gudekote Extension Forest Reserve (Block A) and Halsagara Reserve Forests as Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary vide Gazette Notification FEE 72 FWL 2013, issued on 11 November 2013.As per latest news reports, the Karnataka Wildlife Board has approved the expansion of total area under Gudekote Sloth Bear Sanctuary.This is the second wildlife sanctuary declared in Ballari district of Karnataka to protect Indian sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), with the 1st being Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary.

Gugamal National Park

Gugamal National Park has an area of 1673.93 square kilometers. Built in 22 february 1974, this park is located in Chikhaldara and Dharni Tehsils of Amravati District, Maharashtra, India. It is part of Melghat Tiger Reserve.

Flora3

The forest in rugged and hilly area of Melghat is typical southern dry deciduous forest. This consist mainly of Tectona grandis, Ain, Tiwas, Aola, Lendia, Dhawada, Kusum are the important tree species. Bamboo is widely spread in the forests. Some orchids and strobilanthes in the upper hills. The area is rich in medicinal plants.

Fauna

The area is rich in wild mammals including Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, Indian jackal, striped hyena, chausinga, sambar (largest Deer on earth) gaur, barking deer, ratel, flying squirrel, cheetal (type of deer), nilgai, wild boar, langur, rhesus monkey, and macaque. Also found here are 25 types of fishes and many varieties of butterflies.

Crocodiles were re-introduced in a systematic manner in March 1990 and February 1991 in Siddu Kund in Gadga river near Dhakna and Hathikund in the Dolar river in the Gugamal National Park.

Jambavan

Jambavana also known as Jambavanta is a character originating in Indian epic poetry, popularly found in Ramyana (story of Lord Rama, Bhagwan Vishnu's avatar as a human on Earth). The King of Bears, he is an asiastic or sloth bear in Indian epic tradition (though he is also described as a monkey in other scriptures), immortal to all but his father Brahma. Several times he is mentioned as Kapishreshtha (Foremost among the monkeys) and other epithets generally given to the Vanaras. He is known as Riksharaj (King of the Rikshas). Rikshas are earlier described as similar to Vanaras but in later versions of Ramayana Rikshas are described as bears. He was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana.Jambavana was present at the churning of the ocean, and is supposed to have circled Vamana seven times when he was acquiring the three worlds from Mahabali.

Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary

Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary is situated in the Banaskantha district formerly under Palanpur State in the Indian state of Gujarat at the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. It was declared as a sanctuary in May 1978, covering an area of about 180 square kilometres (69 sq mi), principally for protection of the sloth bear, which is now categorized as "Vulnerable A2cd+4cd;C1 ver 3.1" on the IUCN Red List. Their numbers are declining in the wild and they are threatened with extinction.The name "sloth" is said to be the epithet travellers and hunters in India gave to the bear when they saw it hanging upside down from branches of trees and consequently they identified it with sloth, an animal that hangs upside down. While it is now known as sloth bear, initially it was called "bear sloth" since the game hunters identified this species with the sloth of South America as the physical characteristics and arboreal habits of both species matched. Towards the later part of the 18th century, its scientific name was Ursine bradypus, Ursiform sloth or Bradypus ursinus. But when in the early 19th century, a sloth bear, housed in a zoo in France, was examined, scientists identified it correctly as a bear species and thereafter the name was changed from "bear sloth" to "sloth bear". Jessore hill, which is the back drop to the sanctuary, is also prefixed to form the full name "Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary".Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India, Forest Department of Gujarat, well known Institutes and Universities of the country, stakeholders and local communities in and around the project area have been engaged in Conservation and Sustainable Management of Dryland Biodiversity of North Gujarat under a GEF/UNDP supported project with the objective of conservation of globally significant biodiversity. The two projects identified under the programme, as demonstration project sites were the Jessore and Balaram-Ambaji Sanctuaries. The information gathered under this project in respect of the Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary has enhanced the information base and is expected to help in building local establishments to adopt novel ideas to resolve the threats faced by the sanctuary.

Kanha Tiger Reserve

Kanha Tiger Reserve, also called Kanha National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of Madhya Pradesh, state in the heart of India. The present-day Kanha area is divided into two sanctuaries, Hallon and Banjar, of 250 and 300 km2 respectively. Kanha National Park was created on 1 June 1955 and in 1973 was made the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Today it stretches over an area of 940 km2 in the two districts Mandla and Balaghat.

Together with a surrounding buffer zone of 1,067 km2 and the neighbouring

110 km2 Phen Sanctuary it forms the Kanha Tiger Reserve. This makes it the largest National Park in Central India. Kanha Tiger Reserve was ranked among the top 10 Famous Places for Tourists.The park has a significant population of the Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopards, the sloth bear, barasingha and Indian wild dog. The forest depicted in the famous novel by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book is based on jungles including this reserve. It is also the first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot, "Bhoorsingh the Barasingha".Kanha is situated in both the districts, It is around 30 km far from Mandla and 80 km far from Balaghat.

Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests

The Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests is a mostly arid ecoregion in northwestern India that stretches over 103,100 sq mi (267,000 km2) across Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The dry deciduous forests in the region are dominated by teak, and thorny trees and scrub in drier areas.

List of bears

Below follows a list of the different species of bears. Bears indented are a subspecies or type of the species listed above it that is non-indented.

List of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Gujarat, India

The Gujarat state of western India has four National Parks and twenty-three wildlife sancturies which are managed by the Forest Department of the Government of Gujarat.

Meesapulimala

Meesapulimala (Malayalam: മീശപ്പുലിമല) is the second highest peak in the Western Ghats of Idukki district (Kerala) on the Indian subcontinent after Anamudi. Its peak is 2,640 metres (8,661 ft) above sea level.

The name derives from the fact that it is formed of eight peaks which spread like a "Moustache" and it is located in between the Anaimalai Hills and Palani Hills near Suryanelli around 20km away from Munnar. Kolukkumalai tea estate, Top Station and Tipadamala (2135m) is also nearby.

Treks to the peak via Rhodo Valley (favourable for rhododendron flowers) can be organized through the Kerala Forest Development Corporation in Munnar.Meesapulimala trekking booking is limited and the trekking path from Kolukkumalai to Meesapulimala is highly restricted.

There is a great chance of sighting wildlife including Nilgiri Thar, Sambar Deer, Wild Gaur, Wild Dogs and even the Sloth Bear. The duration totally depends on your physical fitness. It will take about 7 to 9 hours to complete the full route.

Ntangki National Park

Intangki National Park is a wildlife park located in Peren district of Nagaland, India. Among the creatures that inhabit the park are the rare hoolock gibbon, golden langur, hornbill, palm civets, black stork, tiger, white-breasted kingfisher, monitor lizard, python and sloth bear. The name "Ntangki" is derived from the Zeme dialect of the Zeliangrong tribe.

Sloth bear of Mysore

The Sloth bear of Mysore was an unusually aggressive Indian sloth bear responsible for the deaths of at least 12 people and the mauling of two dozen others in 1957. It was killed by Kenneth Anderson, who described it in his memoirs Man-Eaters and Jungle Killers:

[Sloth] Bears, as a rule, are excitable but generally harmless creatures. This particular bear carried the mark of Cain, in that he had become the wanton and deliberate murderer of several men, whom he had done death in most terrible fashion, without provocation

The reasons given to explain the Mysore sloth bear’s unusual behaviour varied. Some of the natives within the bear’s killing range thought that the bear was a sow taking revenge on humanity after her cubs were stolen. Others thought that it was a male which had previously abducted a young girl as its mate, only to have her rescued by the villagers, thus inciting the bear’s anger. Kenneth Anderson believed that the bear had previously been injured by humans and altered its behaviour accordingly.

Sri Lankan sloth bear

The Sri Lankan sloth bear (Melursus ursinus inornatus) is a subspecies of the sloth bear which is found mainly in lowland dry forests in the island of Sri Lanka.

Ursid hybrid

An ursid hybrid is an animal with parents from two different species or subspecies of the Ursidae (bear) family. Species and subspecies of bear known to have produced offspring with another bear species or subspecies include brown bears, black bears, grizzly bears and polar bears, all of which are members of the Ursus genus. Bears not included in Ursus, such as the giant panda, are probably unable to produce hybrids. Note all of the confirmed hybrids listed here have been in captivity (except grizzly/polar bear), but there have been hybrids in the wild.

A recent study found genetic evidence of multiple instances and species combinations where genetic material has passed the species boundary in bears (a process called introgression by geneticists). Specifically, species with evidence of past intermingling were (1) brown bear and American black bear, (2) brown bear and polar bear, (3) American black bear and Asian black bear, (4) bears currently distributed in Asia (sloth bear, sun bear and Asian black bear). Overall, this study shows that evolution in the bear family (Ursidae) has not been strictly bifurcating, but instead showed complex evolutionary relationships.

Wildlife of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation nestled in the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalaya. To its north lies the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and to the west, south and east lies the Indian states of Sikkim, Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The terrain is some of the most rugged in the world, characterised by huge variations in altitude. Within the 150 miles between the southern and northern borders, Bhutan's elevation rises from 150 to more than 7,500 metres. This great geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climate conditions contributes to Bhutan's outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The tiger, one-horned rhino, golden langur, clouded leopard, hispid hare and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowland and hardwood forests in the south. In the temperate zone, grey langur, tiger, common leopard, goral and serow are found in mixed conifer, broadleaf and pine forests. Fruit bearing trees and bamboo provide habitat for the Himalayan black bear, red panda, squirrel, sambar, wild pig and barking deer. The alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard, blue sheep, marmot, Tibetan wolf, antelope and Himalayan musk deer.

Flora and birds abound with more than 770 species of bird and 5,400 species of plants known to occur throughout the kingdom.

Extant Carnivora species

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