SLOTH BEAR –
The distinctly shaped sloth bear with it’s black shaggy coat and heavy build is often spotted in several of Sri Lanka’s National Parks, where there is undisturbed forest growth. Found in the Indian Subcontinent, the sloth bear has evolved from the Brown Bear over millennia.
Sloth Bears are insect-eating mammals and have a specially adapted lower lip and palate for gathering their food source. They dine mainly on termites, honeybee colonies and fruits, and can be heard from a distance of 300 feet as they ‘slurp’ up their food.
Sloth Bears are similar in a way to Sun Bears in that they have a ‘fingerprint’ pale yellow v-shaped marking on their chests. They are also the bears to display the longest tails, some of which can grow up to 7 inches in length. Although they walk in an unhurried shambling fashion, Sloth Bears can run faster than humans, and although clumsy looking in every way, are adept tree climbers. Although primarily nocturnal creatures, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear can be seen out at both dawn and dusk in several of the country’s Parks.
Human encroachment into areas of forest, along with drastic deforestation are the main threats to the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, and as scientific data into the habits of a Sloth Bear are limited, it is vital that Sri Lanka’s recognition of it’s many natural treasures continues. Preservation and conservation of the Sloth Bear’s habitat must continue in order that Sri Lanka can proudly boast of her unique and endemic Sloth Bear.