Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus) or Asiatic black bear is a species of black bear native to Asia. These types of bears are also known as the moon bear because they have a crescent-shaped marking on their chests.
Most Asiatic black bears are nocturnal and, spend the day asleep in caves or hollow trees. They come out at night to feed. However, there are some species that are more active in the daytime. Those in the northern regions are known to hibernate during the winter.
Asiatic black bears can be found in the southern part of Asia, all the way from Pakistan, across the northern part of India and the southern part of China. There are also subspecies found in northeastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and southern Siberia.
The Asiatic black bear found in Taiwan is known as the Formosan black bear. Those in Japan are known as Japanese black bears.
These bears prefer to live in forested and mountainous areas. They have been found at elevations as high as 13,000 feet. When the weather gets colder, they move to lower elevations.
Asian black bears are medium-sized bears that share a similar resemblance to brown bears. They have a light brown muzzle and a distinct white patch of fur on the chest, which sometimes has the shape of a V or a crescent-like appearance.
These bears weigh between 220 to 440 pounds and females are generally smaller than males weighing between 110 to 275 pounds. All Asiatic black bears have jet black fur except for the patch on their chest.
Their ears are somewhat large and are set far apart. Their claws are short and strong which makes them good for climbing trees.
Unlike American black bears, Asiatic black bears are much more aggressive toward humans. There are numerous records of human attacks and killings.
The Asian black bear is an omnivorous mammal which means it feeds on both animals and plants. The main sources of its food are fruits, grass, nuts, and honey. However, it will also eat birds, invertebrates, fish, rodents and even carrion.
By the age of 3, females (sows) are able to reproduce. The mating season varies depending on the region and subspecies. Sows usually give birth in caves or hollow trees in winter or early spring after a gestation period of 200–240 days. The cubs usually live with their mother for about 2 years or until her next breeding cycle.
The Asiatic black bear is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). It is also protected from trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Asiatic bears have lived up to 32 years in captivity. Their average life span in the wild is thought to be about 25 to 30 years.
Interesting Facts About Asian Black Bears
- The oldest Asiatic black bear ever recorded lived to age 42.
- The ears are large and are set farther apart than on an American black bear.
- The body is heavy, the legs are thick and strong, and the paws are broad.
- When frightened, they can rapidly descend from trees by sliding down tail first.
- Asiatic black bears are good swimmers.
- Asian black bears are primarily solitary but sometimes may live in family groups consisting of
two adults and two successive litters of young. They will walk in a procession of largest to smallest.
- Although their senses are more acute than those of brown bears, their eyesight is poor, and their hearing range is moderate.
- The Asiatic black bear’s range overlaps with that of sloth bears in central and southern India, sun bears in Southeast Asia and brown bears in the southern part of the Russian Far East.
- The Feeding Ecology of Giant Pandas and Asiatic Black Bears in the Tangjiahe Reserve, China