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Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus theibetanus)

Status and Conservation of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus theibetanus) in District Mansehra and Kohistan  

Project Developer/Executant and Affiliation
Asfandyar khan

Project Duration
12 Months

Project Summary
Of the 08 species of the bears in the world, 02 occur in Pakistan; the Asiatic/Himalayan Black bear and Brown bear. According to T.J. Roberts In Pakistan the Asiatic Black bear is mainly confined to the Himalayan moist temperate forests of Pakistan and Aj&K. In servheen’s (1990) review of the status and conservation of the bears of the world, he found very limited information on the Asiatic black bears in Pakistan. Even basic information doesn’t exist for many areas in the distributional ranges of this species in Pakistan. So in that context the applicant designed the said study to collect the basic information on scientific lines about the species distribution and status in District Mansehra and Kohistan and in Pakistan generally. Applicant will also try to build monitoring mechanism in the selected study areas where its population currently is growing well with the collaboration of wildlife staff and local communities.

Project Aims and Objectives
Project aim is to; collect the basic information about the Asiatic black bear distribution and status, identify threats associated to the species and propose long term needful conservation actions in its existing habitat.


  • To determine the distribution, population density of the black bear in the study area
  • To determine the economic loss due to black bear attacks on crop, human, livestock
  • Identify the suitable mechanism to reduce the human-black bear conflict
  • To develop a long term conservation action plan

Main Focus of the Project
Species and Environmental education

Background and Justification
Of the 08 species of the bears in the world, 02 occur in Pakistan; the Asiatic/Himalayan Black bear and Brown bear. According to the T.J. Roberts In Pakistan the Asiatic Black bear mainly confined to the Himalayan moist temperate forests of Pakistan and Aj&K. In Pakistan it is mostly present in the lower part of the Kaghan valley including sari and shogran and Hazara Kohistan. Also present in the deodar forests of northern Dir and lower Chitral. In Gilgit; occurs in Chilas, and extending southwards into the Indus kohistan as per the T.J.Roberts. NWFP wildlife department collected the black bear sighting information and interviewed the pastoral communities in 1992 to collect some information about the black bear population. According to that information there were 88 bears in swat district, 94 bears in Dir district, 2 bears in Chitral district, 34 bears in Mansehra district and 16 bears in Kohistan district. Thus the total population of black bear in N.W.F.P was estimated at 234 in 1992

The major threats to the species in its historic habitats are; habitat loss, killing by farmers due to the threat they pose to livestock, and they are also unpopular for their habit of stripping bark from valuable timber trees, the capturing of bears from the wild for using them for dancing and baiting bears. The Asiatic bear is also known to be quite aggressive towards human beings and there are many incidents of bear attacks and killings are found in its habitat ranges. In some other parts of the world it is also threatened by hunting, especially for their gall bladders to obtain bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicines (due to lack of information, In Pakistan we don’t have any information about that).

While realizing the importance of the conservation of the species in its historic habitat the applicant interviewed and visits various organizations and local communities in the district Mansehra and Kohistan of Hazara. Collected information is presented below;

Presence of Black Bear in Kohistan
The presence of black bear was recorded by the Kohistan wildlife department in 1998. The survey was conducted during autumn by the wildlife staff and the Himalayan jungle project to assess the status, occurrence and distribution of black bear in Pattan, Dubair, Keyal, Palas, Kolai, Jalkot, Kaigah, Kandian and Harban valleys of district Kohistan. As per the survey result a total of 9 Black Bear were recorded in Dubair valley, 14 Black Bear in Pattan, 9 Black Bear in Keyal, 21 Black Bear in Palas, 7 Black Bear in Kolai, 16 Black Bear in Kandian, 12 Black Bear in Jalkot , 6 Black Bear in Kaigah and 4 Black Bear were recorded in Harban valley. The collected information was mainly based on the observations of the local people. Black bear occurrence in restricted niches was also confirmed through indirect evidences, such as damage to agriculture crops, fruit orchards and livestock. Survey results showed that the animal is regarded with negative feeling by the local because of its depredation to crops and this leads to its ruthless hunting. The animal is also hunted in retaliation when its attacks on the livestock or pose threat to human population.

Apart from the shooting of adult, young cubs are captured when they come to feed in ripening maize crops. These cubs are then sold through a middle man to certain nomadic gypsy tribes who train them to stimulate dancing and baiting and there by earn a living.

Big size animals probably males are also hunted for its fat value these animals are particularly fat and heavy in autumn. The fat extracted from black bear is used locally for the massage on bones, joints for the relief of pain and sold to the outside dealers. During survey it was carefully investigated to get a crude idea regarding the number of animals, may have been killed or captured during the past 2 years. It was learnt that on limited scale the capturing of black bear cubs and shooting of the animals for various reasons is reported in district Kohistan. However, such poaching take place infrequently despite of their poverty, local showed little interest in the use of the species parts. The small scale unorganized/irregular use regime of black bear has not encouraged the locals to attach a nominal market value to the species. It was also learnt that outside the district Kohistan the trade of bear cubs by the casual poachers fetch reasonable price. Capturing of cubs in Kohistan is not organized and it is fairly circumstantial. The in frequent poaching of the bear gives us a rough idea regarding threats to its population.

Presence of Black Bear in Mansehra
According to the HASHAAR development organization the black bear presence was reported in Methal, Panjool forest, Kund forest, Garang nala, Nikki mohri, Bandhodhar, Khilarian, Bari Baik-nikka pur

Few GPS locations were noted where black bear was sighted in 2004 in the district Mansehra. Panjool and Kund forest, that are adjacent to Methal village (73.17.810 N 34.35.302 E). Similarly pug marks of black bear were seen at Garang nala near Garang village (73.18.155 N 34.35.302 E) and at Bandhodhar and Khilarian (73.18.155 N 34.35.302 E). People sold cubs of black bear and performed pilgrimage, an example is of Hajji Qalandar khan, and he sold two cubs in 1997 at bar Palas, Kohistan. In the month of July and August black bear moves towards a fruit plant Guch (Vibearnum nervsosus) and Ukroon (local name) near villages.

In 2005 a black bear attacked and killed a villager at Moza Fateh Bandi, Mansehra district and the same black bear also attacked three school going children badly injured them. After a few days it was killed by the villagers. (NWFP Wildlife department compensate villagers).

The Asiatic black bear is a threatened species according to the Redlist Data Book of the IUCN. The present issues related to the species decline were not scientifically assessed so far. While realizing the issues and threats to the species in its historic habitat of the Hazra district the present research is designed and presented to the SC for the financial support to collect some basic information for designing a long term conservation action for the species. Potential sites in District Mansehra and Kohistan will be studied in detailed under the project with the collaboration of wildlife department and local communities.

Describe three main points that you feel make your Project special

  • It will provide data about the estimated population of the species
  • It will be the first work on human-black bear conflict management in Kohistan
  • The project will also raise awareness about the ecological significance of the species amongst the local communities
  • Moreover, this project will help to generate useful information by which people could take mitigating measures to reduce the human-black bear conflict

Detailed Project Activities

  • Collection of sighting records through GPS
  • Develop GIS based maps with the help of WWF-Pakistan’s GIS Lab.
  • Conduct pugmark survey for the population estimation and build the capacity of the wildlife staff
  • Analyze the collected information for the population estimation
  • Assess the extent of the damages to livestock and crops in selected villages in the study area
  • Identify the root causes of the human-black bear conflict
  • Identify the prey base of the species in the selected area
  • Document the results and publish in different forums

Expected Achievements/Results/Outputs

  • Population estimates will be available
  • GIS maps available showing the following;

  • Distribution

  • Concentration and marginal occurrence zones

  • Extent and reasons of damages because of black bear known
  • Mechanism available for the community to minimize the economic impacts
  • A detailed long term conservation action plan will be developed

The project process and progress shall be regularly evaluated through established process and procedures.

Dissemination of Results
Findings and results will be shared at local, national and international level through print and electronic material.

Names & Addresses of Two Referees who are familiar with the work of the Project

Project Executants
Mr. Ali Hassan Habib, Director General, WWF-Pakistan
Mr. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Manager Conservation, NWFP, WWF-Pakistan
Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan, Member Scientific Committee, WWF-Pakistan

Project Documents:

  1. Status and Conservation of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus theibetanus) in District Mansehra and Kohistan.  (New)


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