A new documentary tells the story of Mulas, a rescued Formosan black bear. It was found as an abandoned cub in 2019. In an unprecedented move, Taitung conservators took the cub in and looked after it for nearly 10 months, training it in the skills it needed in the wild. Its rehabilitation was a first in Taiwan, and it offered a precious window into the behavior of Formosan black bears after human care.

Via satellite signal, forestry officials released the tracking collar worn by Mulas the Formosan black bear, marked the true beginning of its life in the wild. The cub was found alone in July of 2019 in Taitung’s Guangyuan Village. Since its mother was nowhere to be seen, the Forestry Bureau made the unprecedented decision of taking care of the bear.

Wu Chang-you

Taitung Forest District Office

We cared for it for more than 290 days, and tracked its movements for more than 400. That’s more than one year. It all went smoothly, so in June of this year, we released its GPS collar, and let it return to the wilderness by itself.

But letting Mulas go was not just a matter of releasing the collar. The documentary shows the bear handling and chewing fruits, climbing up trees and playing hide-and-seek with people. All these activities were part of a plan by the forest office to train Mulas for its eventual release to the wild.

‘Mulas Kulumaha’ footage

There was a special task, which was to put the tracking collar on the bear. It had to be tight enough for it to not fall off, while giving enough room for the bear to grow. In the future, the researchers in charge will be able to track the cub via satellite and see its activities in the wild.

The satellite tracking device allowed the office to collect Taiwan’s first long-term data on the activity and behavior of a Formosan black bear released to the wild. The data is of immense value, marking a milestone for Formosan black bear conservation. Over the 405 days of tracking, Mulas traveled more than 314 kilometers and displayed seasonal activity patterns.

Wu Chang-you

Taitung Forest District Office

We chose to screen the documentary at Mulas’ hometown, at Tuapuu’s Guangyuan Village. We hope that by doing so, we can get more Indigenous people to understand that black bears and all of us share the same environment, which is all around us. I hope that we can make this environment even better.

The documentary is the story of Mulas’ rehabilitation. The forestry office says it hopes the film will allow the public to better understand the conservation work of Formosan black bears. The data collected will inform future approaches to conservation and to releasing more Formosan black bears to the wild.