The Himalayan Black Bear (also known as Moon Bear), is an endangered subspecies of the Asiatic black bear. It is a medium sized, sharp-clawed, black-colored bear with a light brown muzzle and a pale yellow crescent on the chest. It has a wide distribution range spanning across the Himalayas from Bhutan to Pakistan.
Threats to Moon Bears
Listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals, it is threatened mainly by deforestation and habitat loss due to timber industry and forest fires. The bears are also occasionally killed by farmers due to the threat they pose to livestock. Although bear hunting is illegal they are also poached for their gall bladder and bile which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.
Moon Bear Conservation Project
Over the years the Himalayan Black Bear has increasingly fallen victim to the man-animal conflict situation in Kashmir, India due to large scale deforestation. There have been cases of bears being battered to death or burnt alive as a result of mob fury. Wildlife SOS has been working closely with the Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Protection department and the Forest department since December, 2006, towards mitigating the man-animal conflict situation in the state.
Wildlife SOS has also signed an agreement with J & K Wildlife Protection department for a collaborative project to help address the man-animal conflict in the state. As part of this project, called the Moon Bear Conservation Project, Wildlife SOS has organized various training workshops for the staff and team of the J & K Wildlife Protection department to help in capacity building and training the officers in certain specialized tranquilizing equipment. Wildlife SOS wildlife biologists have also done extensive scientific research on the ongoing man-animal conflict situation with special emphasis on the bears. These reports have been submitted to the J & K Wildlife Protection department to help find solutions to the problem.
What has Wildlife SOS achieved in Kashmir?
In two years the Wildlife S.O.S team in conjunction with the Bio Veterinary wing of the Wildlife Department of J & K has rescued and rehabilitated around thirty animals, mainly Himalayan black bears and leopards. Some of these animals have been treated for wounds and injuries before being released into the wild. Presently Wildlife S.O.S is looking after five orphaned Himalayan black bear cubs in Pehelgam and Dachigam in Kashmir. These cubs have been hand reared and are being taken care of by Wildlife S.O.S team members in enclosure space provided by the J & K Wildlife Department.
We are thankful to Hauser Bears (UK) for their invaluable and continuous support of this project.