Wildlife of Pakistan


 

Mammals

( Bears )


 

Eurasian Brown Bear

(Ursus Arctos)

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: BBC (wildfacts)

 

Local name: Bhora Reech, Bhora Bhalo (Urdu)

Discription and Biology:

APPEARANCE: The brown bear is a large animal, usually dark brown in color, though it can vary from a light creamy shade through to black. The long guard hairs over the shoulders and back are often tipped with white which, from a distance, gives a grizzled appearance. The brown bear is characterized by a distinctive hump on the shoulders, a slightly dished profile to the face, and long claws on the front paws.

SIZE: There is considerable variability in the size of brown bears from different populations, depending on the food available. Determining representative weights of specific populations is also difficult as there are seasonal considerations to take into account-for instance, some bears can weigh twice as much in the fall as they might weigh in spring. Adult males may weigh 135 to 390 kilograms (300 to 860 pounds) compared with 95 to 205 kilograms (205 to 455 pounds) for females. At birth, cubs weigh 340 to 680 grams (11 ounces to 1 pound 6 ounces).

REPRODUCTION: Female brown bears reach sexual maturity at four-and-a-half to seven years of age. Males may become sexually mature at a similar age but are probably not large enough to be able to enter the breeding population until they a re eight to ten years old. Mating takes place from early May to the middle of July but implantation does not occur until about October or November. The young are born from about January to March. The litter size ranges from one to four, but two is most common. Cubs remain with their mothers for at least two-and-a-half years, so the most frequently a female can breed is every three years.

SOCIAL SYSTEM: Under most circumstances, brown bears live as lone individuals, except for females accompanied by their cubs. During the breeding season, a male may attend a female for up to two weeks for mating. Brown bears are distribut ed in overlapping home ranges and male home ranges are larger than those occupied by females.

DIET: Brown bears mainly eat vegetation such as grasses, sedges, bulbs, and roots. They also eat insects such as ants, fish, and small mammals. In some areas they have become significant predators of large hoofed mammals such as Marcopole Sheep, Ibex and Bharal ( all above information from International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA).

Habitat and Distribution:

Their preferred habitat includes mountain forests, open meadows and large river. The Brown Bear in Pakistan is now very rare due to constant persecution by local villagers and by hunting. But the main threat to this bears survival is from local gypsies or "Kalandars", who earn their living from dancing bears and bear baiting (read a special report about bear baiting in Pakistan from WSPA). These bears are caught after their mother is shot. It is sad to see more bears on the streets of the big cities of Pakistan than in the wild .

This bear inhabits the remote northern regions of Pakistan. It is found in baltistan, Hunza, Gilgit, the slopes of Nanga Parbat, Khunjerab National Park and the Deosai Pleatue near Skardu. The Deosai Pleatue is a declared National Park and is the last stronghold of the Brown Bear in Pakistan. The total population in this National Park is 25-27 individuals. Elsewhere this bear is normally found solitary.

 

 Asiatic Black Bear
(Ursus Thibetanus)

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Brimingham Zoo

 

Local name: Kala Reech, Kala Bhalom, Mum (Urdu),(Baluchi: Baluchistan)

Discription and Biology:

APPEARANCE: This medium-sized, black-colored bear has a lightish muzzle and ears which appear large in proportion to the rest of its head, especially when compared with other species of bears. There is a distinct white patch on the chest , which is sometimes in the shape of a V, and white on the chin. A brown color phase also occurs.

The Balochistan black bear is a sub-species of the Asiatic or Himalayan black bear. It is smaller and possesses short, coarse, rufous brown fur in the specimens from the south while those from the north are much darker as compared to the Himalayan black bear. It prefers to (Olea ferruginea), Ber (Zizyphus nummularia) as well as the starchy rhizomes and fruits of the dwarf palm, insects and lizards.

SIZE: There is limited information available on these bears, but total length of adults is 130 to 190 centimeters (50 to 75 inches). Adult males range from 100 to 200 kilograms (220 to 440 pounds) and adult females from 50 to 125 kilogra ms (110 to 275 pounds).

REPRODUCTION: There is little detailed information on reproduction in Asiatic black bears. Sexual maturity of females is thought to occur at three to four years of age. In Pakistan, mating has been reported to occur in October, with young being born in February. Cubs are weaned at less than six months old, but may stay with their mothers for two to three years. Females have sometimes been reported with cubs of different ages. Baluchistan black bears are thought to mate in October and cubs are born in February.

SOCIAL SYSTEM: In Russia, the home range is reported to be 10 to 20 square kilometers (4 to 8 square miles). Little information is available on social organization. The bears are reported to be mainly nocturnal, sleeping in trees or caves during the day. The Baluchistan black bear is usually sighted in the rainy season from August to November.

DIET: Asiatic black bears have been reported to feed on a wide range of foods, including fruits, bees' nests, insects, invertebrates, small vertebrates, and carrion. They occasionally kill domestic livestock, but the degree to which they prey on wild hoofed mammals in unknown. In fall they frequently make crude leafy feeding platforms in nut-bearing trees. The Baluchistan bear prefers to (Olea ferruginea), Ber (Zizyphus nummularia) as well as the starchy rhizomes and fruits of the dwarf palm, insects and lizards.( all above information from International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) and Pakistan Convention on Biodiversity )

Habitat and Distribution:

Asiatic black bears live predominantly in forested areas, especially in hills and mountainous areas. In summer, they have been reported at altitudes over 3,000 meters (9,900 feet), descending to lower elevations during winter. Apparently, they den for winter sleep in the northern parts of their range. It has been suggested that in the southern limits of their range, where it is quite hot, they do not undergo winter sleep, but this has not been confirmed.

In Pakistan the Himalayan Black Bear is found in the mountains of Azad Kashmir, Khagan, Swat Kohistan and Southern Chitral, in Chitral Gol National Park. It is also found in Ayubia National Park. The subspecie, Baluchistan Bear is found in the higher hill ranges of Baluchistan, such as Takht-e-Suliman and Toba Kakar. It is also found in Ziarat, Kalat and Khuzdar.

The Baluchistan Bear is one of the world's most rarest mammal and is listed in the IUCN's Red List of threatened species. The Baluchistan black bear (Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus) locally known as "Mum" was once widely distributed in most of Balochistan. A number of stories and mysterious tales have been perpetuated about the species among the locals i.e. dragging humans to caves etc. The Balochistan black bear's habitat ranges from Iranian Balochistan to the Pakistan's Baluchistan province. According to T.J. Roberts, this species has been reported in the Sulaiman Range, Ziarat, Harnai, Khuzdar, Kharan and the Lasbela Hills, but now it is considered extinct in most of the areas. The major stronghold of the species is now in the Pub Range (Khuzdar Hills) where it is mostly confined to arid sub-tropical thorn forest. Two surveys have been conducted one by WWF-Pakistan in 1993-96 and the other by the Himalayan Jungle Project in 1994 and both confirmed the presence of the species in the Pub area. The population status is not certain, but local hunters report 8-10 animals still survive in the area. A WWF survey team has also reported scats and footprints of the Black Bear in the Sulaiman range in 1998.

The black bear is threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat and from local Gypsies, or "Kalanders", who capture bear cubs for bear baiting and for dancing (read a special report about bear baiting in Pakistan from WSPA). The main threat to the species is its persecution by the locals. Bears are usually killed when they are found predating on goats and their kids. People also kill the bears to sell its fur and to collect its fat for medicinal use. The second important factor that threatens the species is that it has not been explored and studied properly. The habitat has been seriously disturbed during the decades of the 80's and 90's.

 


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