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Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus)

Asiatic Black Bear (found in Afghanistan): Asiatic black bears, Ursus thibetanus, occur within a variety of forest habitats throughout Asia including broad-leaf and coniferous forest types at elevations ranging from sea level to about 4,300m. They generally prefer forests with a high abundance of oak acorns, beechnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, or pine seeds since the species uses these food types to store fat for winter. The Asiatic black bear occurs in 18 countries across Asia, from southeastern Iran though Afghanistan and Pakistan, across the Himalayas to Myanmar, and up into China, the southern portions of the Russian Far East, and North Korea. It also occurs on the southern islands of Japan (Honshu and Shikoku), Taiwan and Hainan.
Asiatic black bear
The Asiatic black bear has been recorded in the Eastern Forests of Afghanistan; however, much of this habitat has probably been lost to illegal logging activities. Global population estimates for this species are not available. In Afghanistan, WCS estimated the Asiatic black bear population to be less than about 300 animals based on habitat data and density information. Major threats to the Asiatic black bear include hunting, trade, and habitat loss. Capture of bear cubs and bears for the pet trade, baiting (where bears are made to fight with dogs), and bear dancing is also a problem in many countries including Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Bears are hunted for skins, paws, and gall bladders. Bile from gall bladders is used in Traditional Asian Medicines, and the Asiatic black bear is supposedly the most valuable in these medicines. Bile from gall bladders is used to heal ailments and as a stimulant, and sells for between 11-75 USD per gram (recorded from Taiwan markets). The gall bladder itself sells for 500 USD or more per gall bladder, but these prices may differ five-fold based on size and quality. Asiatic black bear is strictly prohibited from international trade under CITES and is a protected species of Afghanistan.
The Asiatic black bear is a small-sized bear with an entirely black coat except for a crescent moon-shaped white patch on its chest. Brown, blond, and a mixed black/blond phase have also been recorded in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.


Heidi Kretser, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society 7 Brandy Brook Ave Saranac Lake, NY 12983 USA
518 891-8872 ext 105