2004 Volume 9 Issue 1 Pages 1-8
Captive breeding programs are recognized as an important method to conserve endangered species. In the present study, the feasibility of a captive breeding program for the sun bear (Helacrtos malayanus) was evaluated by population viability analysis in Sarawak, Malaysia. First, the reproductive pattern and genetic diversity of the sun bear were studied to obtain sufficient information for conducting the population viability analysis. The results of fecal estradiol and progesterone measurements suggested that sun bears in Sarawak have a single annual reproductive activity synchronized to the rainy season. Further, the captive sun bear population in Sarawak appeared to have adequate gene diversity to found a captive breeding project. A population viability analysis was then conducted based on reported physiological data as well as the new findings mentioned above. The result of the population viability analysis indicated that the captive population in Sarawak could be maintained for next 200 years with a probability of over 80%, with one female supplementation every five to 10 years using present facilities and captive management techniques. Therefore a captive breeding program might be one way, indeed a practical method, to conserve sun bears in Sarawak, Malaysia.