Sloth Bears in Yala National Park

The chances of you seeing a Sri Lankan Sloth Bear in Yala National Park are very slim. Do not go on a 4x4 Safari and demand your driver and guide come up with a sighting. National Parks are not zoos. It feeds on roots, berries, nuts, small animals, meat and carrion.

Sloth Bears

Sri Lankan Sloth Bears in Yala National Park

It is an omnivore which means it will eat almost anything. They will turn over boulders and pull away old logs to get at the insects underneath. They have developed over time an adapted lower lip that the bears use for sucking up insects, making a loud hoovering sound as they do so.

This is Baloo the bear from the Jungle Book. They both have light coloured noses and long claws for digging. Sloth Bears live mainly in lowland forests but they have been spotted occasional walking around the rocky outcrops contained in the park.

Sloth Bears

the long 4 inch claws of the Sri Lankan Sloth Bears in Yala National Park

The Sloth Bear relies on the bounty of the dry lowland jungle forest to survive. Its destruction for turning into farm land has resulted in its near extinction. It can only be found in protected reserves like Yala National Park. Some bears have been hunted for food by local farmers. Sloth bears are wary of humans and will attack if you come to close to their territories.

When Europeans first saw the large claws on the Sloth bear they mistook it as belonging to the same genetic family as the South American Sloths. This was soon corrected but the name stayed with the animal. The Sloth Bear's claws can grow as long as 4 inches.

Expecting female Sloth Bears try to find a den or cave to give birth. In Sri Lanka this can occur at any time of the year. The baby cubs open their eyes at 4 weeks old and mature quickly compared with other bears young. Cubs are seen holding onto their mothers back as she walks around the rocks and forest floor.

The cubs leave their mother in their third year and become sexually mature around their third birthday. To wean the cubs off her milk a mother will regurgitate food she has eaten during the day and feed this to her cubs. This is called "bears bread" because it hardens in the sun. It manly contains sweet things like jack fruit, honey comb and apples,

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