The threats which are affecting the Asian black bear



by LORENZO CIOTTI

The threats which are affecting the Asian black bear

The Asian black bear is widespread in a large range extending from Iran to the Japanese archipelago. The countries where it is present are North Korea, South Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, southern Siberia, northeastern China and Taiwan.

It can also be found at altitudes of 4700 m. In some areas of its range it shares the space with the much larger Brown bear even though it does not fully share the same ecological niche as this small black bear prefers to find food on trees in search of fruit and nuts.

Another urside with which it shares the territory is the giant panda. Marked Vulnerable by the IUCN, this bear is highly threatened by deforestation and habitat destruction. These animals are also threatened by local traditions in China and Southeast Asia where they are killed for the production of medicines.

The current population would be around 50,000 specimens. The case of bear bile farms is famous, where thousands of bears are locked up in tiny cages for the production of bile. For the production of bile they are subjected to great suffering, a kind of needle is inserted into the chest and remains for years allowing the extraction of bile up to causing infections, malnutrition and living in tiny cages even other traumas.

The Animal Asia Foundation association takes care of the recovery of some bears devastated by this practice and tries to avoid the exploitation of the species. Another form of exploitation with regards to this species is the bear-baiting, still practiced in some Asian countries.

In it the bear is forced to fight against dogs, until his death. The animal is deprived of its claws and teeth, so that the only way it has to defend itself is to chase the dog with its paws and hug it to its chest, but since there are usually two opponents incited, this practice is rarely successful.

The Siberian tiger is its greatest enemy, and in Russia the bear accounts for up to 5% of the big cat's diet. Elsewhere, Tibetan bears are preyed upon by Bengal tigers, leopards, wolves and dholes. Obviously the most serious threat is represented by anthropic action, with consequent climate and environmental crisis, global warming, destruction of the natural habitat and poaching.