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

Main Article Content

Vasantkumar Rabari
Nishith Dharaiya


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.

Article Details



Akhtar, N., B.H. Singh & N.P.S. Chauhan (2004). Sloth Bear habitat use in disturbed and unprotected areas of Madhya Pradesh, India. Ursus 15(2): 203–211. https://doi.org/10.2192/1537-6176(2004)0152.0.co;2

Bargali, H.S., N. Akhtar & N.P.S. Chauhan (2004). Feeding ecology of Sloth Bears in a disturbed area in central India. Ursus 15(2): 212–217.

Baskaran, N. (1990). An ecological investigation on the dietary composition and habitat utilization of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) at Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, Tamil Nadu (South India). Thesis. AVC College, Mannambandal, Tamil Nadu, India.

Baskaran, N., N. Sivaganesan & J. Krishnamoorthy (1997). Food habits of Sloth Bear in Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, southern India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 94: 1–9

Baskaran, N., S. Venkatesh, S.K. Srivasthava & A.A. Desai (2015). On the behavioural ecology of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus Shaw 1791) in Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. Animal Diversity, Natural History and Conservation 5: 313–333.

Chhangani, A.K. (2002). Food and feeding of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan, India. Tigerpaper 29(2): 1–4.

Debata, S., K.K. Swain, H.K. Sahu & H.S. Palei (2017). Human–Sloth Bear conflict in a human-dominated landscape of northern Odisha, India. Ursus 27(2): 90–98.

Dharaiya, N. & S. Ratnayeke (2009). Escalating human-Sloth Bear conflicts in North Gujarat: a tough time to encourage support for Bear conservation. International Bear News 18(3): 12–14.

Dharaiya, N., H.S. Bargali & T. Sharp (2016). “Melursus ursinus. The IUCN red list of threatened species 2016: e. T13143A45033815.”

Garcia, K.C., H.M. Joshi & N. Dharaiya (2016). Assessment of human–Sloth Bear conflicts in North Gujarat, India. Ursus 27(1): 5. https://doi.org/10.2192/ursus-d-15-00012.1

Garshelis, D.L., A.R. Joshi, J.L.D. Smith & C.G. Rice (1999). Sloth Bear conservation action plan. Bears: Status survey and conservation action plan, 225–240 pp.

Gokula, V. & M. Vardharajan (1995). Food habits of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) on Mundanthurai Plateau, Tamil Nadu, India. Tigerpaper 22(4): 27–28.

Hasted, H.R.G. (1903). Food of Melursus ursinus (the Sloth Bear or Indian Bear). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 15: 144.

Johnsingh, A.J.T. (1981). Ecology and behaviour of the dhole or Indian wild dog - Cuon alpinus. Pallas 18(11): 1–57.

Johnsingh, A.J.T. (2003). Bear conservation in India. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 100: 190–201.

Joshi, A.R., D.L. Garshelis & J.L.D. Smith (1997). Seasonal and habitat-related diets of Sloth Bears in Nepal. Journal of Mammalogy 78: 584–597.

Khanal, S. & T.B. Thapa (2014). Feeding ecology of Sloth Bears in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Journal of Institute of Science and technology 19(2): 118–122.

Koli, V. & U. Prajapati (2022). Sloth Bears Intent on Feeding Around the Sacred Fire. International Bear News 31(1): 25–26.

Kumar, G.& D.K. Paul (2021). Feeding ecology of Sloth Bear (Melursus Ursinus) in Nawada Forest Division (Bihar) by scats analysis. Environment and Ecology 39(1): 1–9.

Laurie, A. & J. Seidensticker (1977). Behavioural ecology of the Sloth Bears (Melursus ursinus). Journal of Zoology 182: 187–204.

Mewada, T. & N. Dharaiya (2010). Seasonal dietary composition of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in the reserve forest of Vijaynagar, North Gujarat, India. Tigerpaper 37(2): 8–13.

Mewada, T.P. (2015). Index of relative importance of the dietary proportions of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in semi-arid region. Notulae Scientia Biologicae 7(3): 281–288.

Noyce, K.V., P.B. Kannowski & M.R. Riggs (1997). Black Bears as ant-eaters: Seasonal associations between Bear myrmecophagy and ant ecology in north - central Minnesota. Canadian Journal of Zoology 75(10): 1671–1686. https://doi.org/10.1139/z97-794

Palei, H.S., P.P. Mohapatra & H.K. Sahu (2014). Dry season diet of the Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in Hadagarh wildlife sanctuary, Eastern India. Proceedings of the Zoological Society 67(1): 67–71.

Palei, H.S., S. Debata & H.K. Sahu (2020). Diet of Sloth Bear in an agroforest landscape in eastern India. Agroforestry System 94: 269–279. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-019-00389-1.

Patel, N., I. Dorresteijn & N. Dharaiya (2017). Sloth Bears Feed on Cicadas in Jassore Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Gujarat, India. International Bear News 26(1): 22–23.

Rajpurohit, K.S. & P.R. Krausman (2000). Human-Sloth Bear conflicts in Madhya Pradesh, India. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28: 393–399.

Ramesh, T., K. Sankar & Q. Qureshi (2009). Additional notes on the diet of Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve as shown by scat analysis. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 106(2): 204–206.

Ramesh, T., R. Kalle, K. Sankar & Q. Qureshi (2012). Factors affecting habitat patch use by Sloth Bears in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Ursus 23(1): 78–85.

Rather, T.A., S. Tajdar, S. Kumar & J.A. Khan (2020). Seasonal variation in the diet of Sloth Bears in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. Ursus 31(12): 1–8.

Ratnayeke, S., F.T. van Manen & U.K.G.K. Padmalal (2007). Home ranges and habitat use of Sloth Bears Melursus ursinus inornatus in Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka. Wildlife Biology 13(3): 272–284.

Sanderson, G.P. (1890). Thirteen years among the wild beasts of India. W.H. Allen & Co., London.

Schaller, G.B. (1967). The deer and the tiger: a study of wildlife in India. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Singh, N., S. Sonone, J. Rot & N. Dharaiya (2017). An unusual attractant spurs Sloth Bear break-in in Maharashtra. International Bear News 26(3): 20–21.

Sukhadiya, D., J.U. Joshi & N. Dharaiya (2013). Feeding ecology and habitat use of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) in Jessore wildlife sanctuary, Gujarat, India. Indian Journal of Ecology 40: 14–18.

Yoganand, K., C.G. Rice & A.J.T. Johnsingh (2005). Project report on Evaluating Panna National Park with special reference to ecology of Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.