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Sloth Bear

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Sloth Bear

Class

Mammalia

Order

Carnivora

Family

Ursidae

Scientific Name

Melursus ursinus

Name in English

Sloth Bear

Local Names

Sinhala: Walaha

Introduction

Physical Attributes
The length of the body of a sloth bear generally falls between the range of 140cm and 190cm. the weight of the male varies from 80kg to 140kg while the weight of the female range from 95kg to 55kg. The colour of the sloth bear is black and it also includes brownish and greyish hairs. The snout of the sloth bear is relatively longer when compared with other similar species and this is one of the distinctive physical features of the sloth bear.

Habitat and Environment
The sloth bear is found in South Asia and the countries India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan possess this particular species. Tropical areas are the type of geographical area in which sloth bears are found. Sloth bears prefer forests, scrublands, and rocky outcrops in tropical areas.

Lifespan and Reproduction
The lifespan of the sloth bear is generally accepted, according to BBC Nature, as 25 years. Reproduction of sloth bears occurs usually during the middle months of the year but certain studies of sloth bears in Sri Lanka have found out that these creatures mate throughout the year. Finer details of mating vary according to the source and the period of pregnancy or gestation is between six and seven months. The number of offspring of the sloth bear range from one to three.

Behaviour and Feeding
The sloth bear is an omnivore and this feeding habit is generally common to all bears. Fruits, insects, leaves, and flowers form the diet of the sloth bear.

Cultural and Conservation Status
The sloth bear was fairly common in India and Sri Lanka until as recently as the mid-nineteenth century but at present, they are harder to find (Ward and Kynaston, 1995). The IUCN classifies the sloth bear as a vulnerable species and hunting has been one reason for this status. Parts of the sloth bear is used for various traditional medicine.

The sloth bear is generally regarded simply as a bear in Sri Lanka. Even though the bear is well-known in Sri Lanka, only an extremely limited number of people have actually seen a sloth bear in the wild and the reasons for this is that the sloth bear, which is dangerous for humans, inhabit forests that are far from human communities.

References
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/13.shtml
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Melursus_ursinus/
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/sloth-bear/
ISBN: 955 1462 00 9