A relatively small Ficus subcordata fig started fruiting next to the to the roadside at INNIKEA early in December 2021.
On 13 December 2021, 3 camera traps were placed below the fig tree.
A large male Sun bear was first recorded on 19 December 2021 as shown above and below. On 22 December this same Sun Bear climbed into the canopy of the fruiting fig tree. This same Sun bear returned again on 23 December 2021. The Sun Bear was not seen again until 26 January 2022 when he re-visited after the fig tree had stopped fruiting.
From camera trap photos taken by Wong Siew Te at Danum Valley, it appears that up to 3 different individual Sun bears may visit the same fruiting fig. However at this site only one individual was recorded making repeated visits.
We know that forest birds such as barbets and hornbills are fully aware of the fig trees that occur in their home range and regularly check the status of fruiting so that they can visit to feed as soon as the first figs ripen. Once they have found a fruiting fig, male barbets often call continuously from the tree to attract females to mate. Barbet calling broadcasts the location of the ripe figs to gibbons, orangutans and other fig feeders.
But how do Sun bears know when fig trees and other fruit trees within their home range are fruiting ? The dates of the photos shown below indicate that they don’t, otherwise this Sun Bear would have visited earlier and not visited when the same tree was not fruiting. It seems most likely that Sun Bears find fallen fruit by chance. However once they know the location of all the fig trees within their range they may visit these localities on a more regular basis.
Photos and information provided by Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing WONG of 1Stop Borneo Wildlife.