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Asiatic Black Bear

scientific

Ursus thibetanus

Appearance

The Asiatic black bear is a medium sized bear and shares many traits with its American cousin. However, the Asiatic black bear has larger ears, larger/more hooked claws, and a white patch of fur on its chest, most often shaped like a “v” with varying amounts of white on their chin as well. They also have particularly long fur around their shoulders and neck and occasionally have a seasonal brown color phase. These bears have powerful upper bodies for climbing trees and relatively weak hind legs.

Diet

The diet of the Asiatic black bear is quite diverse. Being omnivores, they feed on carrion, bee’s nests, insects, invertebrates, small vertebrates, eggs, nuts, seeds, acorns, fruit and more. These bears tend to be more carnivorous than the American black bear, occasionally preying on livestock and other ungulates.

Habitat / Distribution

These bears can be found throughout Southern Asia, and they are known in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sikkim, Northern India, Bhutan, and into Burma. They generally live in forested areas, especially hilly and mountainous regions.

Reproduction / Social System

Asiatic black bears are solitary except for maternal family groups. They mate from June to July. Courtship rituals include “clucking” and mock fighting between males and females. They give birth during January and February. Females produce 1-4 cubs, born blind and helpless.

Status

Classified as a vulnerable species, the Asiatic black bear is in danger largely because of deforestation, habitat loss, and active hunting for its body parts. Black bear paws, gall bladders, and cubs have become valuable. Bear bile farming is also a significant threat to this species in countries where it remains legal, such as South Korea. The species is protected under China’s National Protection Wildlife Law, which stipulates severe punishment for anyone hunting or catching the bears without permits. The bear is also protected in India, though there seems to be some difficult persecuting poachers. Generally, the Asiatic black bear is protected by law in all of the countries where it lives, with the exception of Japan, and is protected with the banning of international trade of this species and its parts.

Size

Generally, a male will weigh between 220-440 pounds, while females average 110-275 pounds.