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Asian Black Bear

Iran Nature and Wildlife Magazine

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Selenarctos
Species: S. thibetanus

Bears are extremely useful animals; by preying on harmful insects and rodents, they play an effective role in controlling pests. In addition, by eating forest fruits and dispersing the seeds throughout the forest, they help to revive forest trees.

In Iran there are two species of bears one of which is the Asian Black Bear, also known as the Himalayan Black Bear, which belongs to the race S. t. gedrosianus. The Black Bear is seen as having long black or dark brown hair. Shoulders and the outer parts of limbs seem darker. It has white on the chest in the shape of a V and large, tufted ears. Adult bears attain a head and shoulder height of 140 cm - 195 cm, tail length varies between 7-10 cm and weigh about 90-180 kg.

Black Bears feed on green plants, fruits, berries, seeds, termites, bees and other insects, also honey and small vertebrates like birds and rodents. Black Bears make fewer attacks on other larger animals than Brown Bears and rarely attack humans.

They are seen mainly in forest habitats of the South of Kerman, Baluchestan and Hormozgan. Their distribution extends from the border regions of Baluchestan and Pakistan to Minab and Jeeroft. They are seen mainly in the mountainous regions of Zebli; Ghassar-Ghand and Beerak Mountain ranges in Baluchestan; Beshaghard Mountains in Hormozghan; and Jebal Barz forest, Delfard, Bahr Asseman and Kehnooj in the South of Kerman. The Himalayan Black Bear of Pakistan has been seen as far as Japan, Tailand and South East of Siberia.

Asian Black Bears have been seen to climb trees more than other species, and usually travel several kilometers each night to feed and return early in the morning the following day. Mating takes place at the end of spring and early summer and it is likely that between one to three cubs are born in winter.

This species is likely to become extinct as a result of overhunting.