Formosan Black Bear: Struggle for Survival

The Formosan black bear is also known as the white-throated bear. They are endemic to Taiwan. In 2001, they were voted the most representative wildlife of Taiwan. And they are also the largest land animals and the only native bears in Taiwan. Because of severe exploitation and habitat degradation in recent decades, populations of wild Formosan black bears have been declining. This species was listed as "endangered" under Taiwan's Cultural Heritage and Preservation Law in 1989. The body of the Formosan black bear is well covered with black hair, which can grow over 10 cm long around the neck.

On the chest, there is a distinctive yellowish or whitish mark that is shaped like a "V" character or a crescent moon. This earns it another nickname — "moon bear".

They feed primarily on leaves, buds, fruits, roots, although they also eat insects, small animals, and carrion. They will eat fat-loaded hard mast (e.g., acorn and walnut) in fall or winter. The Formosan bear lives in the mountainous forests in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan at elevations of 1,000–3,500 meters (3,300–11,500 ft).

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In the Winter, rather than hibernating, they move to lower elevations to find food, such as acorns.

Even though they look clumsy and slow, Formosan black bears can easily outrun humans, reaching speeds of 30–40 km per hour. And they are skilled at swimming and climbing, as well. Because of their Endangered Species Status and their habit of avoiding humans, Formosan black bears are rarely seen in the wild. In most of the sightings, the bear usually retreats and runs away from the human.

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Even if the bears can be aggressive, they rarely attack humans without provocation.

Sometimes bears are hunting targets for many Taiwan indigenous tribes, but there are taboos in their hunting traditions. The indigenous people all consider bears to have behaviors similar to humans. Therefore, hunting bears is just like killing humans and will cause misfortunes such as disease, death,

Oral Presentation - Formosan Black Bear or crop failure. As a result, hunters usually left bears alone unless absolutely necessary. There are several beliefs in Formosan Black Bear for some Taiwan indigenous tribes. For example, Bunun people call black bears Aguman or Duman which means the devil. Rukai people believe hunting bears can result in diseases. In Taroko legends, Formosan black bears are respectful “kings of the forest” whose white mark on the chest represents the moon. They believe that killing black bears results in family disasters.

Although Formosan black bears were selected to represent the wildlife of Taiwan in 2001 and are listed as protected. In traditional Chinese culture, the bear's paw & gall are precious medicine. This reason makes the price of bear meat are 10 times more than pork. Thus, they continue to make news by being killed or sold illegally. This indicates that today’s laws and law enforcement have not done enough to ease the main threat to the sustainability of bears: illegal hunting.

Based on Taiwan’s Culture Heritage and Conservation Law, Formosan black bears were listed as endangered animals in 1989. Internationally, this species is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), appendix I. CITES bans all international trade in any products from this species. The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural

Resources (IUCN) also describes these bears as vulnerable to extinction. In the end, there is a story about Black-Bear conservation. A cut-paw baby bear, which is nicknamed ”Little Cute” and only 3 month-years-old, was captured by the illegal hunter in 1994, and Its right back foot was cut off by the trap. Because the incident happened in Shei-Pa National Park, the authorities set up a memorial statue and hope that this statue can remind people to conserve the Formosan Black Bear. Everyone should chime in on the conservation effort. Only then can we success be declared in the black bear conservation project.

Oral Presentation - Formosan Black Bear


"If there were no bears in the mountains, the forest would look empty and I would feel lonely." - An indigenous Bunun hunter

"We do not wish to lose this soul of Taiwan's mountains. We do not wish our offspring to see them only in the zoo or in history books." - Mei-Hsiu Hwang (a campaigner of Institute of Wildlife Conservation for black-bear preservation)


  1. Wikipedia - Formosan Black Bear
  2. Conservation and Research of Formosan Black Bears.
  3. Shei-Pa National Park
Updated: Nov 20, 2023
Cite this page

Formosan Black Bear: Struggle for Survival. (2017, Feb 05). Retrieved from

Formosan Black Bear: Struggle for Survival essay
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