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The Sloth Bear of Sri Lanka

Renowned for their slowness in movement alongside their particularly solitary nature, sloth bears reside within the luxuriant greenery of woodlands and grasslands alike, and are commonly found within the tropical regions of India and Sri Lanka.

Notably equipped with a highly developed sense of smell, their distinctive snouts and large tongues assist them in hunting insects, and simultaneously compensate for their underdeveloped senses of sight and hearing.

When in pursuit of sustenance, their claws will extend to tear apart nests formed by bees and termites, while their ability to voluntarily open and close their nostrils will prevent the entry of foreign bodies into the respiratory tract. Moreover, in addition to their diet of insects, sloth bears may forage for fruit, honey, grains, and carrion.

Sloth bears of Sri Lanka at Yala National Park

Proceeding a gestation period of seven months, the females may birth a litter of one to three cubs, and are often seen bearing their offspring on their backs until they grow larger in size. However, as the females and their young are rendered vulnerable to predation from tigers, leopards, and other bears, they remain heavily reliant on their large feet and claws to assist them in galloping away from potential sources of danger.

Presently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List regards sloth bears as ‘vulnerable’ animals, as they remain threatened by human activity, and are likely to decrease in quantity due to poaching, alongside the degradation and loss of habitat.

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