Asiatic Black Bear Conservation Plan 2023-2033
Global status and distribution
The Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibestanus) is distributed throughout Asia and found in 18 different countries. Globally there has been an approximate 31% decrease in the Asiatic Black Bear population and it is expected that this decline will continue over next 3 decades.
National status and Distribution
In Bhutan, the Asiatic Black Bear has been documented as having a wide distribution in certain regions of the country, particularly in Gasa and Bumthang. These bears can be found across a range of elevation, from sub-tropical as low as 100 masl to subalpine regions as high as 5000 masl.
Importance of Bear Conservation
The Asiatic Black bear fulfills a crucial role within its habitats. These bears contribute to ecosystem health and biodiversity by serving as seed dispersers and helping regulate insects and smaller mammals. In Asian countries, various parts of the bear particularly its bile, hold significant cultural and traditional value and are used in traditional medicine practices.
Bear conservation faces many challenges including; ineffective stakeholder collaboration and involvement, constrained resources and technical capabilities, unfavorable perceptions or attitudes towards bears, livelihood methods, and customary rights.
Numerous threat pose significant obstacles to the protection and preservation of Asiatic black bears and its habitats in Bhutan. Among these challenges, human-bear conflict emerges as the most severe threat. Competition for NWFPs results in scarcity and malnutrition during the lean season of the bear. Additionally, the improper disposal of food waste around the settlement, deserted homes and fallow lands also increases the risk of human-bear conflict.
To effectively manage and alleviate human-bear conflicts, as well as discourage retaliatory measures against bears and their exploitation for economic purposes, it is crucial to formulate plans and implement initiatives aimed at strengthening response teams, fostering resilience within affected communities and proactively dissuade conflicts.