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Himalayan Black Bear
Himalayan black bear

Himalayan black bear Ursus thibetanus

The Himalayan black bear is one of the five species of black bear. The Himalayan black bear reaches lengths up to 1.95 m feet and can weigh up to 120 kg. The tail is stubby, the ears are large and the fur is silky and smooth.

The coat of the Himalayan black bear is marked by a distinctive white crest on the chest and a white spot on the chin. The nose of the bear is chestnut brown.

The Himalayan Black Bear is a widespread denizen of temperate forests at elevations between 550 m and 3,700. Black in color with a distinctive white V on its chest, it grows to 2.10 m in height, preferring to live in steep, forested hills. In winter, most bears come down to the lower valleys, somewhere around 1,500 m. In summer, the bear feeds mainly on wild fruit and berries.

About Himalayan black bears
Name Himalayan black bear Ursus thibetanus in Bhutan
Habitat They inhabit forested areas, particularly hill and mountainous regions.
Diet Asiatic black bears are more carnivorous than their American counterparts, although only a small part of their diet is made up of meat. This includes small mammals, birds, fish, molluscs and carcasses. They also feed on grasses, fruits, berries, seeds, insects and honey. In autumn they fatten up for the winter by feeding on nuts.
Asiatic black bears have long black fur with a distinct white patch on the chest that is often crescent-shaped. The fur around the shoulders and throat is particularly long, and their ears are relatively large.
Asiatic black bears are solitary except for maternal family groups, and occupy a home range of 10-20 square km. They are most active at night, although in some areas they may be active during the day as well.
Ursus thibetanus (Asiatic Black Bear) - A vulnerable species

The principal color phase is black, with a white "crescent moon" on the chest. Rare brown phases are also known, and recently a blond (and mixed blond and black) color phase was discovered in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos .

This species occupies a narrow band from southeastern Iran eastward through Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the foothills of the Himalayas, to Myanmar. It occupies all countries in mainland Southeast Asia except Malaysia.

Asiatic black bears occupy a variety of forested habitats, both broad-leaved and coniferous, from near sea level to an elevation of 4300m (in northeastern India). They also infrequently use open alpine meadows. Individual bears move to different habitats and elevations seasonally, tracking changes in food abundance. Foods include succulent vegetation (shoots, forbs and leaves) in spring, turning to insects and a variety of tree and shrub-borne fruits in summer, and finally nuts in autumn. In some places the diet contains a sizeable portion of meat from mammalian ungulates.

In temperate forests, Asiatic black bears rely heavily on hard mast in autumn, in part to put on sufficient fat reserves for winter denning (hibernation). Therefore, these bears tend to focus their activities in habitats with high abundance of oak acorns, beechnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, or stone pine seeds. When Asiatic black bears feed in hard mast trees they often break branches and pile them up in the canopy, forming what appears to be a platform or "nest".

In the most northerly parts of their range, bears enter dens as early as October and exit as late as the end of May.
In the tropics, Asiatic black bears generally do not hibernate, except females giving birth during winter. They still make use of hard mast, but additionally consume numerous species of soft fruits.

Asiatic black bears also use regenerating forests, which may have a high production of berries or young bamboo shoots. They also feed in plantations, where they may damage trees by stripping the bark and eating cambium, and in cultivated areas, especially corn and oat fields and fruit orchards.

Asiatic black bears generally breed during June-July and give birth during November - March; however, timing of reproduction is not known for all portions of the range. Age of first reproduction is 4-5 years, and they normally produce litters of 1 or 2 cubs every other year (at most). Maximum lifespan is over 30 years, but average lifespan is less in the wild.

Widespread illegal killing of bears and trade in parts, combined with loss of habitat indicate that this species is likely declining in most parts of its range, especially in Southeast Asia and China.

Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN


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