October 12 declared as 'World Sloth Bear Day'

The sloth bear is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List
Last Updated : 07 October 2022, 11:00 IST

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared October 12 as 'World Sloth Bear Day'.

Wildlife SOS India, involved in sloth bear conservation and protection for over 25 years, proposed to the IUCN that October 12 be declared as 'World Sloth Bear Day' to draw attention to the conservation and protection of the unique bear species endemic to the Indian sub-continent.

The sloth bear is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List. The IUCN-SSC Sloth Bear Expert Team accepted this proposal and has declared this day to be celebrated worldwide.

The sloth bear is a unique bear species found mainly in India. A tiny scattering of this species occurs in Nepal and a sub-species in Sri Lanka thereby making India the main home for this species. This is also the least researched bear in the world while also being aggressive enough to fend off a pair of adult wild tigers to protect bear cubs.

World Sloth Bear Day will provide an opportunity for this species to be highlighted and for organisations, institutions, rescue centres and zoos across the world to promote the conservation of sloth bears and their habitats, accelerate research and raise public awareness about this lesser-known species around the world. Sloth bears are often confused for the slow-moving arboreal South American sloths.

In reality, sloth bears are agile and considered to be one of the most formidable wild animals.

To commemorate the first inaugural World Sloth Bear Day, Wildlife SOS and the IUCN-SSC Sloth Bear Expert Team will host an inaugural event at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility in Uttar Pradesh on October 12 2022, according to a press statement.

This is the world’s largest Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre for sloth bears that was established by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department in 1999.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS said, “This day is a rallying call for people around the world to learn about this lesser-known species and promote the conservation of sloth bears so we never see a day without this species. The public can help conserve India’s sloth bears by learning about their habitats and supporting organisations actively working to protect them. We are grateful to the forest department and the MoEF & CC, Government of India for their kind and continued support of our work over the decades.”

The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is one of the eight bear species found across the globe. They can be identified by their very distinct long, shaggy dark brown or black fur, distinct white V-shaped chest patch and four-inch long ivory-coloured curved claws used for digging out termites and ants from rock-hard mounds. In the Indian subcontinent, they range across the country through the Deccan plateau, coastal areas, western ghats and to the base of the Himalayas.

Today, 90% of the global sloth bear population is found in India. According to several reports, their population has dropped by 40 to 50% over the last three decades mainly due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, poaching and increasing human-bear conflict.

Published 07 October 2022, 11:00 IST

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