For the first time, a Thai scientist has successfully developed a new technique for bear census in the wild of Thailand. The pilot study site is located in Khao Yai National Park, finding the estimated number of Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) at less than 100 individuals while the number of Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is approximately at 300 individuals. This is an important piece of information towards solving wildlife trade problems.
Dr. Dusit Ngoprasert, from Pilot Plant Development and Training Institute (PDTI) from King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), got a Scopus Researcher Awards in 2014. His research is about census and gene diversity of Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear in the World Heritage Site: Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex. This study is important because it brings forward the new chapters of knowledge about bear census in the country. In the past, estimation of bear population had never been done, resulting in lack of information about their status and their number in the wild. Currently, with the serious threat, the illegal wildlife trafficking, bear is considered at a high risk.
“Bear is a seed-dispersing frugivore in the forest because bears eat both large and small fruits which amount to 90% of its diet. Thus, bear with its role as a seed disperser is not any less important than any other creatures in ecosystem. Although we are able to easily distinguish Asiatic black bear from Malayan sun bear, but to identify individuals in order to estimate their populations is difficult. For individual identification, white stripe on bear chest has to be photographed because each individual has their own patterns with little difference for which we had no information before. While illegal wildlife trafficking continues to pose risks, so we need to begin the study on bear population as soon as possible. They might end up like those tigers one day when seriously started studying about them but found out how close they were to extinction.”
Dr. Dusit said that further survey of Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear populations will be conducted in Khlong Saeng - Khao Sok forest complex because it has reported that the distribution range of Asiatic black bear ends at Nakhon Si Thammarat Province (the Himalayan range as the start for this particular species) and is expected to not to be founded further down in the south.
Therefore, Dr. Dusit and his team have conducted a study of bear census in the wild. He has studied about bear for more than five years and this leads to his discovery on how to identify each individual by using the patterns of stripe from chests of both Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear. The preliminary results show that number of Asiatic black bear is approximately at 300 individuals while number of Malayan sun bear is at less than 100 individuals living in Khao Yai National Park.
“Khlong Saeng is the large forest for Malayan sun bear, covering an approximate area of 6000 km2. It is the last large forest in southern Thailand. Therefore, if we studied about populations of those two species, Malayan sun bear and Asiatic black bear, we are likely to know more about behaviors of Asiatic black bear in comparison to Malayan sun bear which is higher in number at Khao Yai National Park,” he added.
Article: “นักวิจัยพบวิธีนับหมีในป่า ชี้หมีหมาเขาใหญ่ไม่ถึงร้อย” from Matichon Public Co., Ltd. on July 16, 2015
Link: Link: http://m.prachachat.net/news_detail.php?newsid=1437014260
Translated by: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Thailand Program