Speaking of the mascot of Taiwan, most of the Taiwanese will agree that the title belongs to Formosan black bears. They are a subspecies native to Taiwan. However, just like the leopard cats, they are extremely endangered. According to the research, there are only 200 to 600 black bears in Taiwan.
Over hundreds of years, due to deforestation, not just the black bears, a lot of native species lost their habitation. Formosan Clouded Leopards were also the victims. But unlike the black bears, the leopard cat has been announced to go extinct. The last leopard cat was spotted twenty years ago.
Some specialist did some research about the native mammals in Taiwan. They couldn’t figure why there’s no black bear in the habitant of the leopard and there’s no leopard in black bear’s living area. About the mystery, the indigenous people have their own explanation from an ancient story.
The story of Formosan Black Bear and Formosan Clouded Leopard
It was a very long time ago when Formosan Black Bear and Formosan Clouded Leopard were good friends. One day they hung out together to go swimming, and then made a fire to warm themselves up. They talked about the beautiful fur of other beasts and the colorful feather of the birds. They decided to paint their plain, white fur with the charcoal to make some patterns on their fur.
The bear kindly painted the leopard with dazzling cloud-like patterns with great patience. He was so tired after finish the work that he fell asleep with his head resting on the chest when it was time for the leopard to paint him. The leopard cat, however, wasn’t so patient. He just doodled randomly and painted the bear all black. When the bear woke up, only his chest and his mouth remained white. That’s how the bear got a white-collar.
The black bear was angry. Since then, he cut off all the connections with the leopard. To make apologies to the bear, whenever the leopard captured his prey, he just eat the internal organs and left the body on the path where the bear often passed by. The bear got food out of nowhere, and he never knew it was the gift from the leopard.
The Formosan Black Bear probably doesn’t know that his good buddy has gone forever. He is still angry at him, and he thinks that the leopard is hiding from him.
But, who knows? Maybe the bear has already noticed that it has been so many generations since the last time he found the food left by the leopard on the path.
Facts about Formosan Black Bears
The black bears can grow up to 180 cm tall and 250 kilograms. Because of the white, V-shaped pattern, the bears are also called moon bears. They live alone most of the time. Their home range can be up to 500 square kilometers, in the forest of the altitude between 1500 and 2500 meters.
The black bears don’t have the habit of hibernation. In winter times, they forage in lower altitude areas. Their diet is based on but not limited to plant and fruit. They sometimes hunt for boars, muntjacs, and small animals. They are honey lovers. There was a report which said that a black bear once broke into a bee farm to steal honey. (Now you know why honey is Winne’s the Pooh’s favorite)
If you see a Formosan Black Bear in the wild
The black bears are cautious. Once they hear the sound of footsteps, they hideaway. If you happen to come across the bear in a close distance, just face the bear, keep claim, and slowly walk away. Don’t be panic and running. It may stimulate the bear to chase and attack you.