Save the Moon BearsJuly 21, 2015

Disney's "Jungle Book" was about Mowgli, an orphan boy from the forests of Pench in Madhya Pradesh in central India. A wolf raised him, while her cubs became his litter mates. A bear named Baloo was his best mate. The film was based from Rudyard Kipling's short story, "Mowgli's Brothers". There were other tales where Mowgli appeared as an adult. He did joined civilization, but readers couldn't helped but wondered where did the British author got his inspiration for Badoo. He was far from the image of a ferocious bear, which adults knew. As a matter of fact, his gentle demeanor and playful mood seemed like a product of imagination. Until they find out about moon bears.

Moon bears are the only ones of their kind to live on trees. In fact, they spend half of their lives above the ground. Eventually, their weight would be too heavy for branches. They end up on the ground, underneath a nest of broken branches. These bears are endemic in Central Asia, as well as in some parts in the Far East. It's impossible for Kipling not to encounter them, as British India was untamed back then. (If he didn't see one in the subcontinent, then he could have encountered a moon bear in Burma. This is modern-day Myanmar.) Aussies will warm up to the moon bears because they'll be reminded of the koala bears.

What if they have nowhere to go

Moon bears are in peril because they are being hunted for their bile. But Honey Moon Days, which is observed during the month of August, has a different message. Urbanisation threatens the existence of these mammals. If you've been to China and India, then it won't be hard to imagine the possible scenario. These two countries are the most populated regions in the world, and the increase in population will continue. This means deforestation for more communities. It displaces animals, affecting the food chain. It will have a dire impact on the human populace, and it might be too late.

Most people won't care about their plight, as their first impression of the bear is a fierce creature. The moon bear and the polar bear may be related, but their behaviour sets them apart. In fact, the moon bear is different from the brown bear for the same reason. The panda will come to mind instead. (It's panda bear, for the record.) Many moon bears live in captivity. It remains to be seen if this will be the future state of animals, but it will be nice to see the survival of their natural habitat.

Animals Asia, which is behind Honey Moon Days, invites anyone in its fundraising activities to save the moon bears. But this is not compulsory. You can visit a local zoo, and chances are you'll encounter a moon bear or two. If not, then look at the other wild animals in captivity. Such a sight, but what about the forest where they live. This is something worth musing.

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