New Delhi: Poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss are threatening the existence of bears in India, which is home to four of the eight species of the furry mammal.
India is home to four of the eight species of bears -- Himalayan brown bear, Asiatic black bear, Sloth bear and Sun bear.
"Bears in India are threatened due to poaching for their body parts, retaliatory killings to reduce conflicts and habitat loss due to degradation and fragmentation," says Wildlife Institute of India, an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
In addition to these concerns, the rehabilitation of communities that eke out a living on tame bears has made their conservation a challenge, it says.
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a non-profit organisation, says a bear bile (gland) was seized recently in Uttarakhand, highlighting persistent threats to bears worldwide.
The seizure took place in a remote village near Gobind Wildlife Sanctuary, in a joint operation by the Uttarakhand forest department assisted by the WTI.
Bordering Nepal, which is a common smuggling route for illegal wildlife trade to China, Uttarakhand has long battled poaching and wildlife crime.
Of all the species of bear found in the country, the Black Bear is considered as the most sharp and cunning.
Black bears, found in northern India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and northeast China, are listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) 'Red List of Threatened Animals'.
The total number of sloth bears in India is estimated between 10,000 and 15,000. They are also found in Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka.
Sun bears are found in forests of northeastern India, Bangladesh and as far north as southern Yunnan Province in China, and south and east to Sumatra and Borneo.
Meanwhile, an international conference on bear research and management will be held here in November to chalk out a new strategy on their conservation.
The conference assumes more significance to India as it will also mark the launch of the first National Bear Action Plan - a compilation of respective bear action plans from the 26 states where bears are found, the WTI said.
The conference is being hosted this year by the Environment Ministry with its partners the Wildlife Institute of India, WTI, International Bear Association and IUCN with the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and World Society for the Protection of Animals.
First Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012, 10:42