Asiatic Black Bear

Widespread hunting and loss of habitat pose a serious threat to this bear. As a result, populations have declined across its range.

Asiatic black bear in a cage rel=
Asiatic black bear in a cage
© WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER

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  • Common Names

    Asiatic black bear, Himalayan black bear

  • Scientific Name

    Ursus thibetanus

  • Status

    IUCN - vulnerable (A2cd+3d+4d); CITES Appendix I

  • Geographic Location

    Southeast Asia

Physical Description
The Asiatic Black Bear has a coat of smooth black fur and can be distinguished by a V of white fur on its chest. It is similar in appearance to the brown bear, but with a slighter build.

Ecology & Habitat
Broad leaved and coniferous forests to an elevation of 4,300m.

Population & Distribution
The Asiatic black bear occupies a narrow band from southeastern Iran through Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the foothills of the Himalayas, to Myanmar. It occupies all countries in mainland Southeast Asia except Malaysia and has a patchy distribution in southern China. Another population cluster exists in northeastern China, the southern Russian Far East, and into North Korea. A small remnant population exists in South Korea. They also live on the southern islands of Japan (Honshu and Shikoku) and on Taiwan (China) and Hainan. There are no accurate estimates of population size available.

Threats
Illegal hunting for body parts, specifically the gall bladder, paws and skin poses the main threat, together with habitat loss caused by logging, expansion of human settlements and roads.
 / ©: Wikimedia Commons
Asiatic black bear range. Areas of local extirpation have been caused by illegal hunting and habitat loss.
© Wikimedia Commons

What is WWF doing?

WWF works to conserve habitat and protect endangered species such as the Asiatic black bear from illegal hunting. It works with TRAFFIC to stop illegal hunting and with local communities to protect habitat.

It also runs specific projects which target conservation of specific populations of Asiatic black bear; and innovative partnerships with organisations which seek to protect endangered animals:

Traffic logo / ©: Traffic
Traffic logo
© Traffic

How you can help

  • Always look for FSC certified wood and wood products to help reduce unregulated and illegal logging which destroys vital habitat for endangered species.
  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.

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Did you know?

    • The species was described by Rudyard Kipling as "the most bizarre of the ursine species".
    • Asiatic black bear walks on 2 legs more than any other bear species.

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