Sri Lanka has an unusual forest resident that is only seen when a particular specie of tree bears fruit. Find out about the creature in the documentary Season Of The Spirit Bear.
IN the forests of Sri Lanka lurks a creature whose history is a combination of myth and legend. It stays hidden for the majority of the year and then, at the peak of the drought when the Palu tree ? a species endemic to Sri Lanka ? suddenly blossoms with life, it re-emerges from its hideout.
Little is known about the sloth bear`s habits, but once it catches the scent of the fruits, the animal heads directly for the Palu trees.
This month, Animal Planet (Astro Channel 51) chronicles the mysterious habits of the elusive sloth bear in the hour-long Season Of The Spirit Bear, airing Nov 26 at 9pm. It repeats at 11am the following day.
When the dry season is at its most unbearable in the plains and forests of Sri Lanka, an invisible trigger causes one particular tree to burst into fruit. It`s a signal for the island`s most enigmatic animal to materialise from the undergrowth.
Unlike most bears, the sloth bear does not hibernate, but for most of the year, its whereabouts remain a mystery.
Even the island`s indigenous folk, the Veddhas, are at a loss to explain the bears` absence from the forests. Mystery surrounds this lesser known member of the bear family, but during the few weeks of the fruiting season, the sloth bears certainly make their presence felt.
Drawn by the sugar-laden fruits of the Palu tree, the bears lose their inhibitions, exhibiting complete disregard for their neighbours, both human and animal. Even the leopard, the island`s top predator, steers clear of the bears, and the Veddhas retain their age-old respect for an animal whose spirit can neither be tamed nor over-powered.
Season Of The Spirit Bear documents the re-appearance of these black ghosts, as seen through the eyes of the Veddhas.