Saving the Borneo Sun Bear

Saving the Borneo Sun Bear

The Borneo Sun Bear, or Helarctos malayanus euryspilus, has short, black fur with a light grey to yellowish muzzle and a crescent-shaped patch on its chest which can be white, cream, yellow or light orange. Sun Bears are the smallest of the eight bear species.  Female Borneo sun bears are around 120 cm in length and weigh between 27 and 50kg, while males are slightly larger, measuring up to 150cm long and weighing between about 30 and 65kg. They can live for up to 24 years in the wild, but their lifespan is often much shorter. 


Borneo Sun Bear

Over half of the Borneo sun bear's diet comes from fruits from the Moraceae (fig), Burseraceae and Myrtaceae (Myrtle) families. They use their long, curved claws to dig out insects, particularly termites and bees. They  also eat honey, small mammals and reptiles.

Sun Bears are mainly nocturnal and spend much of their time in trees. Relatively little is known about their reproductive behaviour, but cubs generally remain with their mother for eighteen months. The bears seem to be mainly solitary, but they have been tracked travelling in pairs. It is possible that these are mating pairs as mating can occur at any time of the year. They are shy creatures, avoiding human contact as much as possible and can be aggressive when cornered. 

The Borneo Sun Bear's natural habitat is tropical forests up to 2,300 metres in altitude. There is little robust information on present numbers, but the population is known to be declining due to habitat loss and poaching and the Sun Bear is classified as Vulnerable on The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. 

Borneo Sun Bear forest

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo is playing a vital part in the protection of the Borneo sun bear. Opened in 2014, BSBCC aims to provide care and rehabilitation to sun bears rescued from captivity, while also increasing public awareness about this species. The facility includes large forest enclosures that provide a natural-feeling environment suited to the needs and welfare of the sun bears and facilitate their rehabilitation back into the wild. To date, there are 43 rescued ex-captive sun bears residing at the BSBCC.

Come and see Sun Bear Conservation in action on our Captivating Holiday to Singapore and Gaya Island in Borneo Malaysia, 2024