Are There Bears in India!! India is home to three species of bears – the sloth bear, Asiatic black bear and Sun Bear – but their populations are in steep decline due to poaching, cub trade and human conflicts, including retaliatory killings.
Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS has made bear care her life’s work for years now and it is her passion.
The Sloth Bear has become an iconic symbol of India and can be found in most national parks. This reclusive omnivore’s long coat protects it from termites and other predators while its white V-shaped patch on its chest makes it instantly recognisable – one-of-a-kind and only found in southern India and Southeast Asia tropical lowland forests and grasslands.
The bear’s diet of ants and termites allows it to survive the harsh, sandy soils of India’s subcontinent. Its long, curved claws enable it to dig into rock-hard mounds of these insects before noisily sucking out insects through an opening in its front teeth.
This animal tends to be active at night but also emerges early and late morning and evening to hunt food or forage for Mahua flowers (Mahua chamois) found throughout Central India – used for producing country liquor a popular drink here. Their blind eyesight means they attack any time someone approaches and their sharp claws can also pose dangers when threatened, making this an especially hazardous predatory animal for humans.
Sloth Bears are considered one of the most dangerous species of bear. Their thorny feet make them adept climbers, reaching trees up to six meters tall. Furthermore, unlike other bear species they do not hibernate during winter months and therefore less vulnerable to predation from predators.
The Sloth Bear is protected under Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, yet its population continues to dwindle due to habitat loss and poaching. As one of the loneliest species of bears, they prefer remote areas in Karnataka state.
Wildlife SOS’ research project conducted in 2014 focused on sloth bear dens and denning patterns across forest divisions in Karnataka. This unique investigation provided valuable insight into their ecology and natural behaviors – as well as providing important lessons about conservation of these unique bear species.
Early on, wild Sloth Bear cubs were poached from their natural environments and sold to nomadic tribes such as the Kalandars for entertainment, who would tame and force these bears into dancing for audiences. Wildlife SOS’ efforts in ending this cruel tradition has successfully put an end to it; bears rescued from this cruel trade are being rehabilitated and released back into nature. Wildlife SOS’s work also involves educating local people about co-existence with these magnificent creatures. Effective patrolling and timely compensation can reduce cases of human-animal conflict and poaching. furthermore, monitoring ensures bears remain undisturbed by human presence so they may live harmoniously within their natural habitat.
Asiatic Black Bear
The Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) can be found throughout India from Kashmir to Assam and parts of the Himalayan range, from Assam in Assam up to Nepal and Bhutan. This species is highly adaptable and omnivorous, feeding on grasses, herbs, fruits roots and small mammals such as pikas or marmots as food. While diurnal in nature this bear is typically seen alone; mothers may occasionally appear with their cubs.
Poaching and illegal trade of bear gall bladder and bile for commercial gain pose an existential threat to this species in India, alongside habitat loss and conflicts with humans. Furthermore, an increase in demand for bear skin medicine from Chinese traditional practitioners has put further strain on indigenous tribal peoples – sherdukpens in particular consume a pinch of the smoke-dried bladder to treat ailments such as malaria, diarrhoea or stomach upsets.
As natural forests have been converted to orchards and farms over time, it has led to human-bear conflicts. Since 2016, however, bear attacks on humans has decreased. possibly as a result of wildlife department retaliatory killings as well as improved education about coexisting with large predators such as bears.
Bears that venture outside protected areas can also be vulnerable to being caught in traps and illegal hunting for their gall bladder and skin, undermining local conservation initiatives and leading to tribal values eroding over time and leading to their decline. Conservationists from indigenous communities fear this type of unregulated hunting will erode tribal values and lead to its decline – thus endangering critical endangered species such as bears.
Shergaon, located near Eagle Nest WLS and Pakke National Park in West Kameng district, is home to numerous indigenous tribal communities that use bear gall bladder and bile as part of their traditional ethnomedicinal practices. For example, Sherdukpens, Nyishis and other tribal groups ingest small amounts of smoke-dried gall bladder to treat various illnesses while using bearskin mattresses as sleeping surfaces to alleviate body ache.
This practice often leads villagers into hunting bears for its gall bladder and bile in Shergaon due its high medicinal value among these indigenous ethnomedicinal traditions – Sherdukpens, Nyishis and other tribal communities use them both medicinally in indigenous ethnomedicinal traditions – because of their high medicinal value among indigenous ethnomedicinal traditions of use among various indigenous ethnomedicinal traditions among indigenous ethnomedicinal traditions which sherdukpens, Nyishis and several other indigenous tribal communities ingest pinches of smoke-dried gall bladder to treat various illnesses while sleeping on bearskin mattresses to alleviate body pain relief while sleeping on bearskin mattresses to relieve body pain relief when sleeping on bearskin mattresses used for sleep relief purposes when sleeping on bearskin mattresses to alleviate body pain relief while using bear skin mattresses when sleeping on them as mattresses when used on them during treatment if necessary for therapeutic reasons when treating various illnesses.
shergaon, West Kameng district has many bear hunting activities due to the high medicinal values seen within indigenous ethnomedical traditions as Sherukpens, Nyishis as mattresses when treating various illnessskins used as mattresses use for sleeping on bear skin mattresses or using bear skin mattresses used as mattresses used against discomfort due their bear skin mattresses are often utilized during sleep time when rest is provided relief when needed for restful nights out against pain relief mattresses to relieve body sourced by local tribal communities using bear skin mattresses which help ease body pain relief for similar reason due to many similar practices similar to East varies to Hunting bearskin is typically hunted bear for its high medicinal traditions when hunting.
Though sloth bears have been given protection by the Indian government, illegal hunting for their pelt and teeth for “bear dancing” remains high among nomadic Kalandar tribe members. This practice was eventually eliminated in 1996 when organizations such as WSPA and Wildlife SOS worked with tribe members to establish bear rescue centres at Dachigam and Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir to rehabilitate bears rescued during bear dancing as well as promote in-situ conservation of species while retraining bears for new careers as tourist attractions – currently these centres house six bears including mother with cubs.
Are There Bears in India!! Sun Bear
The Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) is an understudied species in India and Southeast Asia, often referred to as Honey Bear due to its fondness for honey-sweetened foodstuffs. It gets its name from its distinctive crescent-shaped chest marking that’s said to symbolize rising sun. Sun Bears typically inhabit tropical evergreen forests as well as montane ones, though disturbed and heavily-logged forest areas should be avoided when searching for shelter.
Sun Bears possess long, curved claws which enable them to grip trees and branches as they climb. Sun Bears can scavenge for food both ground-level habitats as well as treetop ones. although human settlement is generally avoided. Omnivorous Sun Bears consume insects like termites and bee nests as well as fruits, berries, nuts seeds and other plant parts; their strong sense of smell helps them locate food more quickly.
Sun Bear populations have been declining globally and have been listed by IUCN as being vulnerable. Sun Bears face threats such as deforestation, hunting for food and trade of wild animals as well as human-wildlife conflict.
Wildlife SOS has joined with the National Park Authority in India to conduct Bear Conservation Work. Our work involves monitoring and rehabilitating bear dens, creating forest corridors in the wild, reducing human-bear conflicts and creating natural habitat for bears while creating employment opportunities through planting saplings in local communities.
Communities in Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary, Rajasthan have joined us in planting and nurturing at least 6000 trees over one year to reclaim natural forests and form buffer zones that will not only benefit ecosystems but also protect sloth bears and other wildlife from human activities. We call this plantation initiative ‘Trees for Bears”.