Indian black bear is also known by the names of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus), Tibetan black bear, Himalayan black bear and Moon bear. They grow to a length of approximately 4 to 6 feet, right from the nose to the tail. The small eyes of the bear, along with its rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, a short tail, and shaggy hair, differentiate it from the other types of bears. The small shoulder hump, a furry rear instep, a concave facial contour, small and curved claws and narrow ears further accentuate the difference. Last but not the least, Asiatic black bear also has a whitish V-shaped breast patch, not found in the other bear species of India.
The male black bear weighs between 220 and 480 pounds, while the
females are110 to 275 pounds in weight. The senses of the Himalayan
black bears of India are greatly developed and they boast of almost
twice the hearing sensitivity possessed by humans. Black bears have
colored vision and their eyesight is very sharp. Even their olfactory
senses (ability to smell) are highly evolved. The mating season of the
Himalayan black bears is usually from late May to early July. They give
birth to two cubs at a time, which stay with the mother for almost
Indian black bears are omnivorous. Their diet depends upon the season
as well as the availability of food. The fall season is the time for
having acorns, chestnuts, walnuts, and other fatty food. In spring
season, they survive on a diet of bamboo, raspberry, hydrangea, and
other plants, along with rodent's caches of acorns. Summer season is
perfect for having raspberries, cherries, grasses and ants. Asiatic
black bears are also known to attack livestock at times.
Asiatic black bear generally inhabits upper subtropical and lower moist
temperate zones. They are found in East Asia and South Asia, including
Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma,
southern Siberia, Russia, northeastern China, Taiwan and Japan. In
India, Asiatic black bears are found occupying Himalayan foothills, at a
height of less than 3,750 m. Black bears are also found in the Arun
valley of Nepal, inhabiting Sal-Castanopsis, Castanopsis and
Rhododendron forests as well as the forests with bamboo groves.
Status and Threats
Asiatic black bear is listed as endangered on the World Conservation
Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. One of the major
reasons that have contributed to the declining population of black bears
is rampant deforestation and habitat loss. Asiatic black bears also face
threat from farmers, who kill them in order to protect their livestock.