The Bear Necessities

bear tree

Look for the, bear necessities. The simple bear necessitites. Forget about your worries and your strife. I mean the, bear necessities. Oh, mother nature's recipies. That bring the bear necessities to life.

I was quite surprised when I saw these videos the first time and then read the lyrics from The Jungle Book movie, just how good a fit they are. There definitely seems to be some form of enjoyment going on. Its a bit like a life lesson for us all - simple pleasures are usually the best...


But the probable reality is that these males are using the tree, and the same trees repeatedly, to scent mark. It is believed they do this as a form of communication between males so that they "know" other males sharing overlapping areas. Work on Grizzly bears by Owen Nevin of the University of Cumbria in 2007 concluded:

".... cameras show that adult male bears are the most likely to rub trees, and the satellite telemetry tells us that males move from valley to valley in large loops, marking trees as they go, while looking for breeding females,"

Nevin thinks that by marking the trees with their scent, the male bears get to "know" each other better, which may reduce fighting among the bears over potential female mates.

"...male bears can seriously injure or even kill each other when they get into a fight," Nevin said. "If one recognizes the other from the scent marks on the rub trees in the area, he knows he's in for a tough fight—he's on the other guy's patch so to speak—so it might be better to back away than make a serious challenge."

There are clearly at least two males, possibly three, in the video and they visited the same tree repeatedly over a 6 week time frame in the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai World Heritage site. We also have accidental footage of them using the tree before this but this camera was placed specifically to see if we could possibly catch this behaviour closely on video. A successful attempt I think.


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Bagheera's Avatar
Bagheera replied the topic: #977 08 May 2013 21:49
Fantastic videos! great to have some behaviour aswell, they do genuinely look like they enjoy rubbing against that tree!

Here's the song!!.....
Paul T's Avatar
Paul T replied the topic: #979 09 May 2013 02:57
Classic! The tree rubbing starts at 2 mins and 10 seconds in. I watched it a few times and smiled the smile of childish glee.

I dearly wanted to put/use the sound track in the video but the copyright/charging was too complicated.

The video below shows the sun bears love for eating ants, as per the Jungle Book film clip as well. Black ants have made a nest behind the camera and thats what the bear is after............

onflipflops's Avatar
onflipflops replied the topic: #985 12 May 2013 17:40
A very interesting look in the world of bears.

The reason why animals mark their territory has always kept me busy.
Why are all dogs peeing at the same spots, instead of running away if they would notice that another dog appears to have made the area his territory. You can bring your dog to any place that he doesn't know and he will leave his smell by peeing and I wonder if he really regards the new spot as his territory.

The fact that all these different bears are visiting this same tree over and over again makes me wonder if we should call it 'marking a territory'.

Not sure if Nevin's theory is true, but to me it seems more likely than just marking a territory.
Get to know eachother before running into eachother.

I'm still a bit surprised about the pattern of the bears returning to the same spot over and over again. As a photographer it gets me very interested, it means that waiting at the right spot will eventually pay off, not just by pure luck, just a matter of time. Though, not sure if I would like to sit in a hide at close range from a bear, their scent of smell and curiosity might cause them to get uncomfortably close...
All these dangerous animals in these Asian forests make life of a photographer a bit difficult, haha. Though very exciting. To me no destination around the world can beat South-East Asia.

Thanks for posting this very interesting footage! Can't wait to see a bear pole-dancing in the wild...

"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." > Edward O. Wilson

"An understanding of the Natural World and whats in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment." > Sir David Attenborough

“Climb up on some hill at sunrise.  Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.” > Robb Sagendorph


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