A systematic review on the feeding ecology of Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus Shaw, 1791 in its distribution range in the Indian subcontinent

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Nishith Dharaiya
Vasantkumar Rabari


The Sloth Bear being myrmecophagous is specialized to feed on ants, termites, and fleshy food; however, no discernible comparison exists on a diet, seasonal feeding pattern, and factor influence in a different habitat of an Indian sub-continent. A review of available literature suggested the dominance of plant matter in the Sloth Bear diet during the summer season, while an equal quantum of plant & animal matter was recorded in the monsoon & winter seasons. Fleshy fruits, flowers, flower buds, delicate leaves, and sometimes roots are considered plant food items in different studies, while ants, termites, honey, honey wax, and carrion feed are recorded as animal food items. Availability and accessibility of food materials in the different seasons, energy requirements, geographical variations, and human interference are notable factors influencing the feeding strategy of Sloth Bears. Cumulative data on food & feeding behavior of Sloth Bears helps to understand the pivotal role of species across various habitats. A systematic review of all the available studies to understand the diet of Sloth Bears in different seasons across its distribution range is presented in this paper, which can be a holistic approach to know the habitat selection with reference to the availability of food. A better understanding of such behavior also provides a key strategy for the management of large mammals in different geographical areas.

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