Conservation and life in Borneo

Back to the Trees

Last year I spent some time in the forest enclosure with Shauna, marking trees for a study of how bears use them. Now, 12 months later, I’ve been going round again, checking the trees’ growth and usage by the bears, this time with Roshan and Margaret.


Roshan is one of Malaysia’s most promising new comedy talents. He’s okay at that Biology stuff, too.

We are monitoring the trees by measuring their girth at chest height, along with estimates for ground vegetation and canopy cover. The usage of trees by the bears is estimated by looking at how much they are using the trees for climbing and how much they are stripping the bark. We are also noting down whether or not this appears to be recent damage.

Claw marks on a tree frequently climbed by bears.

In addition to climbing, we have noticed that bears will strip the bark of the trees, too, often down at the buttresses, near ground level. It would appear they are doing this to get resin from the trees. Roshan has found resin in his examination of faecal material.


Black blobs of resin can be seen around the areas of stripped bark.

We’ve only just begun this work, but already there are indications that some species are more popular with the sun bears than others. It’s quite exciting to think that this work could give us a better insight into sun bear ecology.

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