Himalayan Brown Bear
#GS3 #Biodiversity #Environment
A recent study on the Himalayan brown bear ( Ursus arctos isabellinus) has predicted a significant reduction in suitable habitat and biological corridors of the species due to climate change, prompting scientists to suggest an adaptive spatial planning of the protected area network in the western Himalayas for conserving the species.
- The Himalayan brown bear is one of the largest carnivores (otherwise omnivore) in the highlands of the Himalayas. The study carried out in the western Himalayas by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) predicted a massive decline of 73% of the bear’s habitat by the year 2050.
- These losses in habitat will also result in loss of habitats from 13 protected areas (PAs), and eight of them will become completely uninhabitable by the year 2050, followed by loss of connectivity in the majority of PAs. Furthermore, simulation suggests a significant qualitative decline in remaining habitats of the species within the protected areas of the landscape.
- In such a situation when the protected areas in the Himalayan region lose their effectiveness and representativeness, there is a need to adopt “preemptive spatial planning of PAs in the Himalayan region for the long-term viability of the species”.
- The suitable habitats were mapped outside the PAs and are closely placed to PAs; such areas may be prioritised to bring them into the PA network or enhanced protection.
- The elevation gradient in which the brown bear is distributed is most vulnerable to global warming as this elevation belt is getting warmer faster than other elevation zones of Himalayas.
About Himalayan Brown Bear
- Himalayan Brown Bears are also known as the Himalayan red bear, Isabelline bear or Dzu-The. Himalayan Brown Bears is a subspecies of the brown bear.
- They are categorised as critically endangered in IUCN list.
- These bears are the largest mammal in the Himalayan region, males reach up to 2.2 m long while females are a little smaller. They are omnivorous and hibernate in a den during the winter.
- In India, these are found in 23 protected areas of the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. In J&K, they are found in Suru, Zanskar, Drass and Kargil in the Ladakh region. These bears also found in northern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, Nepal and Tibet.