Asiatic Black Bear

From Academic Kids

Asiatic Black Bear
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Bhutan stamp of an Asiatic black bear
Scientific classification
Species:U. thibetanus
Binomial name
Ursus thibetanus
G. Cuvier, 1823

The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus or Ursus tibetanus), also known as the Tibetan black bear, the Himalayan black bear, or the moon bear, is a medium sized, sharp-clawed, black-coloured bear that usually features a distinctive white or cream "V" marking on its chest. It is a very close relative of the American black bear, with which it is thought to share a European common ancestor.

It grows to approximately 130 to 190cm (4 to 6 ft.) in length. Males weigh between 110 and 150 kg (242 to 330 lbs.) and females weigh between 65 to 90 kg (143 to 198 lbs). The bear's life span is around 25 years.

The Asiatic black bear has a wide range spanning from east to west in the continent of Asia. This mammal can be found in the forests of hilly and mountainous areas in East Asia and South Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma, northeastern China, Taiwan and Japan. It can be found in areas with elevations as high as 4,700 m (9,900 feet), but in lower lands as well. In some parts of its range, the Asiatic black bear shares its habitat with the larger and stronger brown bear (Ursus arctos). However, the smaller black bear has an advantage over its competitor: its climbing skills which help it reach for fruit and nuts in the trees. Asiatic black bears share giant panda habitat as well, in China's Wolong Reserve, where they feed occasionally, among other things, on bamboo, which is their more specialized relatives' favorite food. The Asiatic black bear type that is found in Taiwan is the Formosan black bear subspecies.

The Asiatic black bear is an omnivore which consumes a great variety of foods including fruit, berries, grasses, seeds, nuts, invertebrates, honey and meat (fish, birds, rodents and other small mammals as well as carcasses). The Asiatic black bear is thought to be somewhat more carnivorous than its American cousin. Nevertheless, meat only makes up a small part of its diet.

The bear has been known to be quite aggressive towards human beings (more so than the American black bear); there have been numerous records of bear attacks and killings. This is probably mainly due to the fact that the Asiatic black bear is more likely to come into contact with people, and will often attack if startled.

The Asiatic black bear is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. It is threatened mainly by deforestation and habitat loss. The bears are also killed by farmers due to the threat they pose to livestock, and they are also unpopular for their habit of stripping valuable timber trees of bark and reducing the value. Another problem faced by Asiatic black bears is that they are often hunted for their gall bladders, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Since China outlawed the poaching of native bears in the 1980s, bear bile has been supplied to Chinese consumers by special farms, where the bears are kept constantly caged and restrained while catheters inserted in their gall bladders allow bile to drip into a container and be collected. Supporters of this practice contend that, without these farms, the demand for bear bile would create a tremendous incentive for poaching and put the already endangered species at even greater risk. Critics, however, assert that the practice is patently cruel and inhumane, and that synthetic bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid, is just as medicinally effective as real bear bile, and in fact much cheaper.


  • Ursus thibetanus formosanus - in Taiwan
  • Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus - in Iran and Pakistan
  • Urus thibetanus japonica - in Japan
  • Ursus thibetanus laniger - in Afghanistan and southern china
  • Ursus thibetanus mupinensis - in southwestern China
  • Ursus thibetanus thibetanus - in Himalaya and Indochina
  • Ursus thibetanus ussuricu - in northeastern China and Korean peninsula

External links and references

bg:Тибетска мечка da:Asiatisk sortbjrn de:Asiatischer Schwarzbr eo:Azia nigra urso fr:Ours noir ja:ツキノワグマ ko:아시아흑곰 minnan:A-chiu o-hm nl:Aziatische zwarte beer no:Asiatisk svartbjrn ru:Гималайский медведь sv:Kragbjrn vi:Gấu ngựa


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