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Sloth Bear Sightings as a Population Index in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Sloth bears are an iconic species of Chitwan National Park, Nepal. They are known to make seasonal movements between the Churia Hills and floodplains of the Rapti and Narayani Rivers (Joshi et al. 1995). They were well studied in Chitwan during 1990s but their status in recent years is unknown. It is believed that the population of sloth bears is increasing in Chitwan based on frequent sightings and bear attacks on humans (Bishnu Lama, NTNC chief wildlife technician, pers. comm.). Sloth bears are also captured frequently in camera traps, which are deployed to study tigers (Dhakal et al. 2014).

Density and abundance estimates of sloth bears is a challenging task due to their elusive nature and difficulty in identifying individually. Population trend can be assessed through their signs (scats, tracks, feeding sign, markings on trees) (Garshelis et al. 1999). Likewise, opportunistic sightings may also provide an indication of population trend. Here we present opportunistic sightings of sloth bears recorded during rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) surveys in 2015 (DNPWC 2015).