Himalayan Brown Bear

The Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) is a species of brown bear found in the himalyan regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Although the brown bear species as a whole is listed as “Least Concerned” by the IUCN Red List, the Himalayan subspecies is highly endangered and populations are dwindling.

This article will give details about the Himalayan Brown Bear within the context of the IAS Exam

Description of the Himalayan Brown Bear

Himalayan Brown Bears have large thick fur which is sandy or reddish brown in colour. Males are larger than females ranging from 150 to 230 cm compared to 137 to 183 cm for females.

The bears are found in Nepal, Tibet, West China, North India, North Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, all of Kyrgyzstan and South-east Kazakhstan. They are already speculated to have become extinct in Bhutan.

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Behavior of the Himalayan Brown Bear

The Himalayan Brown Bear prefers open valleys and pastures. During summer the bears move as high as 5500 metres and descend into the valleys in the autumn.

The Himalayan Brown Bear goes into hibernation around October and emerges around April and May. They hibernate in their own dens just like other bear species.

Himalayan brown bears are omnivores feeding on grass, rottes, plants and small animals. They also have a preference for fruits and berries. Their prey can also include sheep and goats. Adults will eat before sunrise and later during the afternoon.

To know more about Biodiversity in general, visit the linked article.

Conservation Status of the Himalayan Brown Bear

The Wildlife Protection Act prohibits trade in any product related to the Himalayan Brown Bear.

Unlike other brown bear subspecies, which are found in good numbers, the Himalayan brown bear is critically endangered.

The bears are hunted for their fur and claws for ornamental purposes and internal organs for use in medicines. They also face additional threats from shepherds who attack the bears in retaliation for livestock attacks. The bear’s home are also destroyed by human encroachment along with environmental changes.

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The sanctuary for Himalayan Brown Bears is in Himachal Pradesh in the tribal Chumba region. Their estimated population is just 20 in Kugti and 15 in Tundah.

The tree bearing the state flower of Himachal buransh, is the favourite habitat of the bear. Due to the high value of the buransh tree, it is being commercially cut causing further destruction to the brown bear’s home.

In India, brown bears are present in 23 protected areas in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the states of Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, but only in two of these the bears are regarded as fairly common. There are likely less than 1,000 bears, and possibly half that in India

FAQ about Himalayan brown bear

How many Himalayan brown bears are there in India?

Other than India, the Himalayan Brown bears are also found in Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. The approximate number of Himalayan Brown Bears in India is 500-750.

What are the characteristics of Himalayan brown bears?

A large bear with thick fur which is most often sandy or reddish-brown. The head is large and the body heavy and the legs stocky. Males are larger than females, ranging from 150 to 230 cm in length, compared to 137 to 183 cm for the female bears.

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