Asiatic Bear (Ursus thibetanus)
Order: Carnivora, Family: Ursidae
The Asiatic black bear is found mostly in the wet forests of southern Asia, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and China. They are also found further north in Russia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
- The Asiatic black bear is found mostly in the wet forests of southern Asia, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and China. They are also found further north in Russia, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
- Mass: 90 to 115 kg.
- The Asiatic black bear looks very similar to its American counterpart with its stocky, black body, round head and large ears that are set rather far apart.
- The males and females of the species differ dramatically in size, with males weighing from 50-115 kg and females weighing only 65-90 kg.
- The Asiatic black bear has short claws, measuring only 4-5 cm, but it is nevertheless a good tree climber.
- It has a thick mane of fur similar to the mane of the sloth bear. It has a crescent-shaped area of cream-colored fur on its chest, and the same coloring is found around its lips and chin.
III. FOOD HABITS
- The omnivorous Asiatic black bear is mainly a carnivore, but it also eats termites, beetles, larvae, honey, fruit, nuts, berries, grasses and herbs. When prey is scarce, as in Japan, the bears are mainly herbivores. The Asiatic black bear hunts and eats mostly at night.
- All information about Asiatic black bear reproduction comes from observations of captive animals. The breeding period lasts one or two days, usually in late April or early June, but there are reports of mating as early as March and as late as December.
- As with several other species of bear, Asiatic black bears may have delayed implantation. Otherwise, young are born after 6-8 months.
- Between one and four cubs are born, each weighing around 350-400 g. They stay with the mother from 1 to 1.5 years, until she drives them out of her territory.
- Asiatic black bears are solitary, but they also live in small maternal families.
- They are mainly nocturnal and spend most of the day sleeping and eating in trees. Their home range depends on the amount of food in the area, but is usually less than half a square mile.
- The Asiatic black bear hibernates in the northern parts of its range. After building up a large fat store, the bears head into dens in late November and do not leave them until late March or early April. During hibernation, their heart beat drops to 8-12 beats per minute compared to 40-70 per minute in other bears. The Asiatic black bear's metabolism also drops by half and its body temperature drops to only 3-7 degrees Centigrade. It also does not excrete urea or solid fecal material while it is in hibernation. In other animals, this would cause poisoning, but the Asiatic black bear transforms the toxic substances into useable proteins. By the end of the hibernation period, males have lost up to 15-30 percent of their total weight, while females lose up to 40 percent.
- Some Asiatic black bears, those a little further south, migrate to warmer areas or lower elevations to avoid hibernation.
- Other behaviors of the Asiatic black bear have not really been studied, but are assumed to be very similar to the American black bear.
- The Asiatic black bear lives in moist deciduous and topical forests as well in brush lands.
VII. ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE FOR HUMANS
They are hunted for sport and for their body parts, especially gall bladders, which are used as folk medicine.
Asiatic black bears are a pest to farmers because they eat livestock and crops.
IX. OTHER COMMENTS
- The Asiatic black bear is killed mainly by farmers, because the bears feed on livestock and crops. There are not many rules and regulations set up for the protection of the Asiatic black bear, and where there are, the rules are not regularly enforced. The population of the Asiatic black bear also is declining due to deforestation and the loss of habitat.
- The Asiatic black bear is a very good swimmer.
- The Asiatic black bear is also referred to as the Himalayan black bear or the Tibetan black bear.
- There are 7 to 8 subspecies of Asiatic black bear.
- The enemies of the Asiatic black bear are tigers, brown bears and wolves.