Sloth Bear - Bhalu (Melursus Ursinus)
Surprisingly, what terrorises the people living near the jungle most
is not the tiger. No, its not even another big cat. Its
the bear. Once in and around the jungle, you will get to hear
innumerable stories about mauling. Do not forget to heed the terror on
the face of the storyteller.
¤ Bear Enjoys The Status of Being A Giant Beast
The sloth bear deserves this status. It is a huge animal that stands
65-85cm tall. The average weight is 127-145kg. It is one of the most
sluggish and unkempt of mammals. It wears a woolly black coat over a
huge body. The head is large with small ears and eyes. The snout is
somewhat greyish in colour and glistens with moisture. It has a
distinctive V shaped white mark on its chest. It has long, strong
claws that are greatly feared by people living in the countryside. The
impression of the paw in the sand looks amazingly similar to that of a
human foot and can cause confusion (so beware!).
¤ Favourite Food
Like cats, sloth bears also scratch and sharpen their claws by using
them on tree trunks. The sloth bears favourite tree is the arjun(Terminalia
arjuna),and you are surely going to find its claw-marks on this
tree if it happens to be in sloth bear territory. It is very fond of
honey and has a particular liking for ripe fruits. The sloth bear also
eats termites and returns to the same mound year after year. It grazes
on crops adjoining National Parks. It is nocturnal in habit and hunts
by the night. During daytime, the sloth bear sleeps under the shade of
rocks and caves.
Mating takes place in summer and after a gestation period of seven
months, 2-3 cubs are born. The mother alone assumes the responsibility
of parenting and the cubs remain in her custody till they are three
¤ Best Place To Sight
Ranthambhore, Corbett, Dudhwa, Manas, Bandipur, Nagarhole.