Wong Siew Te on emaciated Sunbears

There were grim moments at Wong Siew Te’s sunbear seminar last afternoon. In an email to FOYers, I said:

“Speaker Siew Te made an observation about the critical role figs trees play. In 1997/8, the region experienced the most severe El Nino event. This led to the local extinction of fig wasps (due to direct impact and the haze). In the absence of pollinators in 1999, fig trees aborted their fruits [he cited Rhett Harrison’s work], and there was a famine in Sabah and Kalimantan, at least (this is where there were sun bear researchers).

Orang utans managed to resort to other food sources like young shoots and plant sap, but animals like sun bears and bearded pigs starved. All his six radio-collared sun bears were emaciated and two died (see photo). I know this led to starving bearded pigs attempting to raid field centres as well. This is suspected to be a reason for the very low density of large animals in Bornean rainforests.”

You can read more from the links at his seminar page or wait for Marcus who will blog more about this later.

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