Home ranges and habitat use of sloth bears Melursus ursinus inornatus in Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka
Shyamala Ratnayeke, Frank T. van Manen & U. K. G. K. Padmalal
Ratnayeke, S., van Manen, F.T. & Padmalal, U.K.G.K. 2007: Home ranges and habitat use of sloth bears Melursus ursinus inornatus in Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka. - Wildl. Biol. 13: 272-284.
We studied home ranges and habitat selection of 10 adult sloth bears Melursus ursinus inornatus at Wasgomuwa National Park, Sri Lanka during 2002-2003. Very little is known about the ecology and behaviour of M. u. inornatus, which is a subspecies found in Sri Lanka. Our study was undertaken to assess space and habitat requirements typical of a viable population of M. u. inornatus to facilitate future conservation efforts. We captured and radio-collared 10 adult sloth bears and used the telemetry data to assess home-range size and habitat use. Mean 95% fixed kernel home ranges were 2.2 km2 (SE = 0.61) and 3.8 km2 (SE = 1.01) for adult females and males, respectively. Although areas outside the national park were accessible to bears, home ranges were almost exclusively situated within the national park boundaries. Within the home ranges, high forests were used more and abandoned agricultural fields (chenas) were used less than expected based on availability. Our estimates of home-range size are among the smallest reported for any species of bear. Thus, despite its relatively small size, Wasgomuwa National Park may support a sizeable population of sloth bears. The restriction of human activity within protected areas may be necessary for long-term viability of sloth bear populations in Sri Lanka as is maintenance of forest or scrub cover in areas with existing sloth bear populations and along potential travel corridors.
Key words: Conservation, habitat, home range, Melursus ursinus inornatus, sloth bear, Sri Lanka
Shyamala Ratnayeke, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 274 Ellington Plant Sciences Building, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank T. van Manen, U.S. Geological Survey, Southern Appalachian Research Branch, 274 Ellington Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA - e-mail: email@example.com
U.K.G.K. Padmalal, Department of Zoology, Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding author: Shyamala Ratnayeke
Received 16 January 2006, accepted 15 June 2006
Associate Editor: Andrew E. Derocher