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Common Name : Sloth Bear     -       Scientific Name : Melursus ursinus inornatus       -       Other Name : Walaha (S)
Maradanmaduwa
06/23/2013
Palu Kola Wewa
05/12/2013
Thammenna Wala
07/15/2012
Thammenna Wala
07/15/2012
Thammenna Wala
07/15/2012

Two subspecies are recognized in the world. Melursus ursinus ursinus, the nominate subspecies, is found in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The second subspecies M. u. inornatus is endemic to Sri Lanka and is restricted to the dry zone forests of the country. I have observed this species in Yala, Wasgomuwa, Gal Oya, Kumana and Wilpattu National Parks even though it is known to occur in other large dry zone forests as well. The conservation status of this species is regarded as “endangered” (National Red List 2012).

This is a species strictly protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

In Wilpattu I have seen footprints of this species on most roads during early morning game drives suggesting the occurrence of a larger population than the daytime sightings indicate. Most of my daytime sightings of this species have been during dawn and dusk.  I once followed a big male bear that walked along the road to Thammenna Wala in July 2012 and observed it drink at the waterhole around 6.30am. Compared to Leopards, the Sloth Bear drinks quite fast. It takes only a couple of minutes to drink its fill. I have also observed this species digging up termite hills and feeding on the helpless insects as well as feeding on the bright red berries of Weera fallen on the road as well under the trees inside the jungle. On a few occasions I examined its feces close to the Kok mote bungalow and found seeds of Ehela and Madan.

Most of my bear sightings at Wilpattu have been of lone males with a few sightings of a mother with a single cub.