Himalayan black bears (Ursus thibetanus laniger) are a subspecies of the Asian black bear found in the Himalayan mountains of India, Tibet, China, and Nepal.
These types of black bears can be found all throughout the Himalaya from Bhutan in the east to Pakistan in the west in mountainous areas and jungles.
In summer, the Himalayan black bear moves to cooler areas in Nepal, China, and even Russia. They are often found at altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet high. During winter, they can be found as low as 5000 feet near tropical forests.
These bears have a black coat and a light brown muzzle. The signature crescent-shaped patch of fur on the chest of the Himalayan black bear is said to be smaller and whiter than that of other Asian black bears. Their fur is also longer and thicker.
Himalayan black bears are between 56 to 65 inches tall from the nose to tail and can weigh between 200 to 265 pounds. In preparation for hibernation, their weight can reach as much as 400 pounds.
Like other species of bears, the Himalayan black bear is an omnivorous mammal. Their diet consists mainly of acorns, nuts, fruit, honey, and roots. However, they will also eat various insects such as termites and beetle larvae.
Himalayan black bears are able to reproduce by the age of 3. Females usually give birth to two cubs while still in hibernation. Mothers and cubs usually stay together for 2 years.
This subspecies of the Asiatic black bear is listed as ‘vulnerable’ due to invasion of the human population, forest fires, and the timber industries; these have all reduced the bear’s habitat. There is also a high mortality rate among newborns. And even though hunting of the Himalayan black bear has been forbidden since 1977, there is still a large problem with poaching.
Interesting Facts About Himalayan Black Bears
- The Himalayan black bear is a violent animal, sometimes attacking without warning.
- They often spend the day in caves or hollowed-out trees.
- They may live in family groups consisting of two adults and two successive litters of young.
- Himalayan black bears are good climbers.
- They can climb cliffs and trees. They will climb to feed, rest, sun, escape enemies and hibernate.
- The main threat is loss of habitat to agriculture, forestry, forest fires and housing which results in an increase of conflict with humans.
- The average lifespan of these types of bears is 25 to 30 years in the wild.