Images of elusive species captured by scientists in Yunnan province
Scientists in Yunnan province have strong evidence that sun bears live in China.
A video taken by scientists with infrared cameras on the evening of Oct 23 in Yingjiang county, clearly shows the features of sun bears — a stocky, muscular build, small ears and a short muzzle — which earned them the nickname “dog bear”.
The images, captured by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Kunming Institute of Zoology, confirms the presence of sun bears in Yunnan for the first time in 45 years. Gathering data is difficult because of the animals’ remote habitat and shy personality.
“This precious video is the first recorded image of the species in China, and strongly supports the existence of sun bears here,” said Jiang Xuelong, a researcher at the institute, who conducted the study.
The sun bear is the smallest species of bear. It grows to about half the size of a North American black bear. Males, which are slightly larger than females, are about 1.5 meters in length and weigh up to 75 kilograms.
Sun bears are nocturnal. They have an excellent sense of smell and extremely long claws. They also sport a long tongue that’s used for extracting honey from bees’ nests — giving them another nickname, “honey bear”.
The bear is a tree-dwelling species that inhabits tropical forests in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. It is among the top species on China’s endangered wildlife list and is under top-level protection.
In 1972, two Chinese researchers recorded a female