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The Malayan sun bear is also known as the "honey bear"

The Sun bear - this one I found scavenging around a lodge up in the mountain forests of Southern Thailand earlier this year. It is not in Hong Kong. The Malayan sun bear is also known as the "honey bear", which refers to its voracious appetite for honeycombs and honey.

Helarctos malayanus (In Thai: หมีหมา) is a bear found in tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia. It is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN as the large-scale deforestation that has occurred throughout Southeast Asia over the past three decades has dramatically reduced suitable habitat for the sun bear. It is suspected that the global population has declined by more than 30% over the past three bear generations.

Bees, beehives, and honey are important food items of sun bears. They are omnivores, feeding primarily on termites, ants, beetle larvae, bee larvae and a large variety of fruit species, especially figs when available.


The two major threats to sun bears are habitat loss and commercial hunting.

Sun bears are among the three primary bear species specifically targeted for the bear bile trade in Southeast Asia, and are kept in bear farms in Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.


Helarctos malayanus is listed on CITES Appendix I since 1979. Killing of sun bears is strictly prohibited under national wildlife protection laws throughout their range. However, little enforcement of these laws occurs.


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