Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Does the Vulnerable sun bear Helarctos malayanus damage crops and threaten people in oil palm plantations?

  • Roshan Guharajan (a1), Nicola K. Abram (a2), Mohd Azzumar Magguna (a3), Benoît Goossens (a3), Siew Te Wong (a4), Senthilvel K. S. S. Nathan (a5) and David L. Garshelis (a1)...

Abstract

Largely as a result of the expansion of oil palm Elaeis guineensis, forest fragmentation has occurred on a large scale in Borneo. There is much concern about how forest-dependent species, such as the Vulnerable sun bear Helarctos malayanus, can persist in this landscape. The absence of sufficient natural food in forest fragments could drive sun bears into oil palm plantations, where they risk coming into conflict with people. We interviewed oil palm plantation workers and farmers in the Lower Kinabatangan region of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, to ascertain if sun bears were utilizing plantations, if they were causing damage to the crop, and how the bears were perceived by people. To obtain a comparative baseline we extended these questions to include other species as well. We found that bears were rarely encountered in plantations and were not considered to be destructive to the oil palm crop, although they were generally feared. Other species, such as macaques Macaca spp., bearded pigs Sus barbatus, and elephants Elephas maximus, had more destructive feeding habits. Sun bears could use this readily available food resource without being targeted for retribution, although incidental human-related mortality remains a risk. Although bears could gain some nutritional benefit from oil palm, plantations do not provide the diversity of food and cover available in a natural forest.

Copyright

Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail roshang88@gmail.com

Footnotes

Hide All
*

Current address: Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany

Also at: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA

Also at: School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; and Sabah Wildlife Department, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Supplementary material for this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605317001089

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Abram, N.K., Xofis, P., Tzanopoulos, J., MacMillan, D.C., Ancrenaz, M., Chung, R. et al. (2014) Synergies for improving oil palm production and forest conservation in floodplain landscapes. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e95388.
Ancrenaz, M., Oram, F., Ambu, L., Lackman, I., Ahmad, E., Elahan, H. et al. (2015) Of Pongo, palms and perceptions: a multidisciplinary assessment of Bornean orang-utans Pongo pygmaeus in an oil palm context. Oryx, 49, 465472.
Arnold, T.W. (2010) Uninformative parameters and model selection using Akaike's information criterion. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 74, 11751178.
Augeri, D.M. (2005) On the biogeographic ecology of the Malayan sun bear. PhD thesis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Azhar, B., Lindenmayer, D.B., Wood, J., Fischer, J. & Zakaria, M. (2014) Ecological impacts of oil palm agriculture on forest mammals in plantation estates and smallholdings. Biodiversity and Conservation, 23, 11751191.
Azmi, R. (1998) Natural Vegetation of the Lower Kinabatangan. Unpublished report. WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Forestry Department, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Campbell-Smith, G., Campbell-Smith, M., Singleton, I. & Linkie, M. (2011) Apes in space: saving an imperilled orangutan population in Sumatra. PLoS ONE, 6(2), e17210.
Cheah, C.P.I. (2013) The ecology of Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) at the Krau Wildlife Reserve, Pahang, Malaysia and adjacent plantations. PhD thesis. Universiti Putra Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia.
Estes, J.G., Othman, N., Ismail, S., Ancrenaz, M., Goossens, B., Ambu, L.N. et al. (2012) Quantity and configuration of available elephant habitat and related conservation concerns in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain of Sabah, Malaysia. PLoS ONE, 7(10), e44601.
Fredriksson, G.M. (2005) Human–sun bear conflicts in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Ursus, 16, 130137.
Fredriksson, G.M., Danielsen, L.S. & Swenson, J.E. (2007) Impacts of El Niño related drought and forest fires on sun bear fruit resources in lowland dipterocarp forest of East Borneo. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16, 18231838.
Fredriksson, G.M., Steinmetz, R., Wong, S. & Garshelis, D.L. (IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group) (2008) Helarctos malayanus. In The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T9760A13014055. Http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T9760A13014055.en [accessed 13 July 2017].
Fredriksson, G.M., Wich, S.A. & Trisno, (2006) Frugivory in sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) is linked to El Niño-related fluctuations in fruiting phenology, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 89, 489508.
Koh, L.P. & Wilcove, D.S. (2008) Is oil palm agriculture really destroying tropical biodiversity? Conservation Letters, 1, 6064.
Liu, F., McShea, W.J., Garshelis, D.L., Zhu, X., Wang, D. & Shao, L. (2011) Human–wildlife conflicts influence attitudes but not necessarily behaviors: factors driving the poaching of bears in China. Biological Conservation, 144, 538547.
Luskin, M.S., Christina, E.D., Kelley, L.C. & Potts, M.D. (2014) Modern hunting practices and wild meat trade in the oil palm plantation-dominated landscapes of Sumatra, Indonesia. Human Ecology, 42, 3545.
Marchal, V. & Hill, C. (2009) Primate crop-raiding: a study of local perceptions in four villages in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Primate Conservation, 24, 107116.
Meijaard, E., Buchori, D., Hadiprakarsa, Y., Utami-Atmoko, S.S., Nurcahyo, A., Tjiu, A. et al. (2011) Quantifying killing of orangutans and human–orangutan conflict in Kalimantan, Indonesia. PLoS ONE, 6(11), e27491.
Nakashima, Y., Nakabayashi, M. & Sukor, J.A. (2013) Space use, habitat selection, and day-beds of the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) in human-modified habitats in Sabah, Borneo. Journal of Mammalogy, 94, 11691178.
Normua, F., Higashi, S., Ambu, L. & Mohamed, M. (2004) Notes on oil palm plantation use and seasonal spatial relationships of sun bears in Sabah, Malaysia. Ursus, 15, 227231.
R Development Core Team (2015) R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
Rajaratnam, R., Sunquist, M., Rajaratnam, L. & Ambu, L. (2007) Diet and habitat selection of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis) in an agricultural landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 23, 209217.
Sabah Wildlife Department (1997) Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Sabah Wildlife Department (2010) Elephant Action Plan. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Scotson, L., Vannachomchan, K. & Sharp, T. (2014) More valuable dead than deterred? Crop-raiding bears in Lao PDR. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 38, 783790.
Sethy, J. & Chauhan, N.P.S. (2013) Human–sun bears conflict in Mizoram, North East India: impact and conservation management. International Journal of Conservation Science, 4, 317328.
Suba, R.B., van der Ploeg, J., van't Zelfde, M. , Lau, Y.W., Wissingh, T.F., Kustiawan, W. et al. (2017) Rapid expansion of oil palm is leading to human–elephant conflicts in North Kalimantan province of Indonesia. Tropical Conservation Science, 10, https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082917703508.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service (2017) Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade. Https://www.fas.usda.gov/data/oilseeds-world-markets-and-trade [accessed 13 July 2017].
Vijay, V., Pimm, S.L., Jenkins, C.N. & Smith, S.J. (2016) The impacts of oil palm on recent deforestation and biodiversity loss. PLoS ONE, 11(7), e0159668.
Wong, S.T., Servheen, C., Ambu, L. & Norhayati, A. (2005) Impacts of fruit production cycles on Malayan sun bears and bearded pigs in lowland tropical forest of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 21, 627639.
Wong, W.-M., Leader-Williams, N. & Linkie, M. (2015) Managing human–sun bear conflict in Sumatran agroforest systems. Human Ecology, 43, 255266.
WWF-Malaysia (2013) Bersatu Memerangi Pemburuan Haram (Working Together to Fight Poaching). WWF-Malaysia, Sabah, Malaysia.
Yue, S., Brodie, J.F., Zipkin, E.F. & Bernard, H. (2015) Oil palm plantations fail to support mammal diversity. Ecological Applications, 25, 22852292.

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Guharajan et al. supplementary material
Guharajan et al. supplementary material 1

 PDF (152 KB)
152 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed