There are eight bear species in the world and the sun bear is one of them. It is the smallest of the all the bears, the polar bear being the biggest. It lives throughout the tropical forests in Southeast Asia and is slowly disappearing as its habitat is destroyed and it is poached for body parts and as a pet.
The Malayan Sun bear, to give it its full title, is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ to extinction by the IUCN. Until fairly recently, there was so little information known about the sun bear that it couldn’t even be classified.
It is an important species for the ecosystem as it spreads seeds over large areas, and bio-engineers the forest by breaking big holes into tree trunks looking for honey and destroying fallen trees looking for grubs. Due to its importance as a large mammal in the lowland tropical forest, and our lack of scientific knowledge, REACT has chosen to focus its efforts on its conservation.
For more detailed information on sun bears, visit Wikipedia ‘Sun Bears’.
REACT Sun Bear Project
The public knows so little about sun bears that REACT is committed to raising awareness. We will support various campaigns and education programmes so that this wonderful bear species gains more attention. This includes working in Malaysia to improve the education of local school children. Local people are the guardians of their environment and it is especially important for these communities to know about the species on their doorstep.
As the sun bear is disappearing due mainly to habitat destruction, it is vital to help maintain wild populations in protected areas. We are focused on the Kinabatangan River in the Malaysian State of Sabah. REACT is therefore dedicated to planting forest corridors to help sun bears move around small fragmented forest patches. Due to a lack of scientific knowledge, it is difficult to put in place conservation measures so we will also support research in this area.
Connecting You to Sun Bears
Connecting to sun bears is not such an easy thing. As one of the lesser known bear species, there are no specialised tours or volunteer programmes but REACT will be working to rectify this. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions.
You can volunteer with at rescue centres. Rescued sun bears are often put in centre together with orangutans. So if you want to help sun bears, you should look out for rescue centres that are marketed as orangutan programmes.
To volunteer with sun bears speak to the team at The Great Orangutan Project and ask specifically about sun bears.
If you are a teacher or a student, why not consider a school education trip with sun bears? Have a taste of what it is like to be a conservationist and find out more about the complexities of saving an endangered species.
If you have any spare time why not help out at REACT? We need people to help with events, collections or maybe you have a special skill to contribute.
Make a donation to help REACT save sun bears in the wild. We use Virgin to take donation as this saves us on administration and ensure we can spend the maximum amount of your donation on sun bears.