Baluchistan Black Bears

The Balochistan (or Baluchistan) black bear (Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus) is a subspecies of the Asiatic black bear and by default one of the many types of black bears around the world.

Balochistan (or Baluchistan) black bear
Balochistan (or Baluchistan) black bear

Baluchistan black bears have a thinner coat compared to other Asian black bears, however, this is because it is found in a warmer climate. Here’s everything you need to know about these types of bears.

Habitat

This bear is found in the Balochistan mountains of southern Pakistan and Iran. The range also includes Ithe hills south of Khuzdar, Takht-e-Suliman, Toba Kakar, Ziarat, and Kalat.

Description

Like other bears in the species, the Baluchistan bears have a cream-colored patch of fur on their chest that is crescent-shaped. They are slightly smaller than other Asian black bears and can weigh between 200 to 400 pounds.

Diet

Bears are omnivorous mammals and the Balochistan bear will eat plants, fruits, berries, seeds, honey, and insects. Small vertebrates such as birds, rodents, and lizards are also part of their diet.

Reproduction

Females are able to reproduce from 3 to 4 years old. Gestation typically lasts between 7 to 8 months. Though, it can be shorter due to the warmer climate in which this species lives. Cubs are blind at birth and have little fur. They remain with the mother for 2 to 3 years.

Status

The Baluchistan Bear is one of the rarest mammals in the world and is on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. It is also protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), banning all international trade of any products derived from the species.

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Habitat loss is a major threat to Balochistan bears due to illegal logging, the growth of the human population, the development of highways, and the installation of power stations in the bear’s habitat.

Local and nomad herders let their cattle graze in the bear territory and end up in killing the native bears, blaming them for the killing of their livestock. Poaching for body parts like gall bladders for medicines is also a threat to the species.

Fun Facts About Baluchistan Black Bears

  • The Baluchistan black bear can live between 25 to 30 years.
  •  Locally this bear is known as “mum” .
  • It was once widely distributed in most of Balochistan but now it is considered extinct in most of the areas (though it’s not an extinct bear species).
  • The Balochistan bear has a darker chest patch than the other subspecies.
  • The Balochistan black bear has a thinner head than other species of the black bear but still has the flanks branching from its head.
  • The Balochistan bear prefers to eat Indian olive (Olea ferruginea), Ber (Zizyphus nummularia) as well as the starchy rhizomes, insects and lizards, and fruits of the dwarf palm.
  • They also like to eat figs and bananas.
  • Balochistan black bears break up downed logs in their search for grubs, helping the process of decay in the forest and the return of nutrients to the soil.
  • Some believe that it is the only “true” subspecies of black bears in Asia.
  • Despite conservation efforts, these bears are still illegally hunted for sport.
  • They are also hunted for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • For example, poaching for body parts like gall bladders for medicines is also a threat to the species.
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