Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the world's smallest species of bear and also the most arboreal (tree dwelling). They are found in tropical forests of South-East Asia where they are threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Sun bears are usually solitary and are nervous around humans. It is unusual to see a wild sun bear but the Sumatran Ranger Project's patrol team often find signs of bears in the buffer zone, outside of the protected National Park.
Signs usually include scratch marks on trees and footprints. Sun bears have huge claws that they use to tear open trees when eating grubs, termites and honey. They have the longest tongue of any bear which helps them extract honey and insects. Their incredibly powerful limbs help them climb trees with ease. Sun bears are classed as Vulnerable by IUCN and killing bears is illegal. They are targets for snares set both inside and outside the forest even though locals say they are targeting wild pig. A snare set for a pig will also easily ensare a sun bear. The Sumatran Ranger Project team collect data while on patrol and via the camera traps to help contribute to the knowledge of how and where sun bears are using the land around the forest near human settlements. They also remove snares that pose a threat to this incredible species. Our partners at Sumatran Sunbear Team are doing an incredible job of helping provide education and rescue for sun bears in Sumatra.