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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Asiatic Black Bear

Family : Ursidae
Species : Ursus thibetanus

Head-body length : up to 150 cm
Tail length :  up 10 cm
Weight : typically up to 100 kg, sometimes more.

The Asiatic Black Bear (also known as the Himalayan Black Bear or Moon Bear) inhabits primary and secondary forest, but sometimes venture beyond the forest edge into adjacent non-forest habitats. In the Himalayas they can occur at over 4000 metres: at such elevations they hibernate through the winter.

This bear appears to be mainly, but not exclusively, nocturnal. By day they rest in the shade of hollow trees, in crevices beneath tree roots, or in caves.

Their diet is omnivorous and includes fruits, shoots, nuts, young leaves, small mammals, small reptiles, invertebrates and beehives. They will also scavenge meat from animal carcasses.

This medium-sized bear has jet black fur with a V-shaped patch of white fur on the upper chest:  the shape of the white patch can be used to distinguish this bear from the much smaller Sun Bear, which has a crescent shaped marking. The muzzle is pale brown, and the ears are relatively large, compared with those of the Sun Bear, which are smaller (and do not extend beyond the head in profile).

Within Southeast Asia this species occurs in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Outside the region its ranges stretches from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in the west, through India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, China and parts of Russia to Japan in the east (as well as isolated populations on the Korean Peninsula).

The Asiatic Black Bear is declining in range and numbers due to hunting and trapping: bear products, such as bear bile and bear paw, are sadly still used as traditional medicines in many countries.

Fig 1 : An adult and infant bear active in a forest clearing in the early afternoon in Virachey National Park, Cambodia. Trail camera images thanks to Greg McCann.

References : M5


Links : HabitatID, Virachey National Park



Fig 1
ゥ  Greg McCann
Fig 2  
ゥ  Greg McCann
Fig 3     
ゥ  Greg McCann