Asiatic Black Bear is also known popularly by moon bear or white chested bear, Asiatic Black Bear has a distinct crescent moon pattern on their chests. They are on the verge of extinction now because people have been destroying forests which have been their natural habitat. The breed is adapted to the arboreal life. It lives in Himalayas in the Northern part of the Indian subcontinent, Korea. The species resembles to certain pre-historic bears morphologically. And it is now put under the category of vulnerable by IUCN or International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of the hunting for the bear’s body parts and deforestation.
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These are the black bears having light brown muzzle. They have distinct white patch on their chests that form the shape of V. Their ears are shaped in the form of bell. They are longer in size than the other bears. Their tail is 11 cm in length. They resemble closely to the brown bears but are lighter in built and have slender limbs. Their lips and nose of this breed is prominently larger than the brown bears. The skulls of these bears are smaller in size but they have a massive lower jaw. Adult males of the bears weigh 60-200 kg and adult females weigh 40-125 kg in weight.
They have black coat fur with distinct whitish V-shaped markings on the chest and longer fur around their necks which can make them appear bigger than their actual size.
Their exact habitats depend on the geographical region where they are found. Though they prefer brush land at the lower altitudes and deciduous forests. Despite this fact, the encroachment of human activities on the lowland, Asiatic black bears being pushed into isolated pockets of vegetation at high altitude.
Behavior and Lifestyle
They are solitary animals and prefer to remain in isolation. They come together only during the mating season or when they compete for the desirable territories. They have small claws but despite that fact they are skilled to climb well in the high trees and build their branches there. In the colder climate, towards the north region of their natural range, they hibernate throughout the winter months and spend the autumn season in consuming beechnuts, walnuts and acorns. They tend to hibernate from November till April in certain parts of Russia where the weather is hostile and there are certain types that enter into the winter dens in the early October and remain there till May.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
These black bears are able to breed when they grow between 4 and 5 years of age and they do so during warm summer months from June-July also. After the gestation period which lasts from between 6-8 months. They give birth to 1-4 cubs though only two are born between 6-8 months, 1 to 4 cubs are born between March and April in the warmth and safety of the females. These dens are found in the river beds. They give birth to young ones at a safe place in the shelter of a den. Their cubs do not have hair and therefore they stay indoors for the safety and warmth. These cubs are weaned when they are just 6 months old. They begin to eat solid food rather than depending on the mother’s milk. But, they remain with their mother till they are 3 year old. Though these bears live up to 30 years or even more when domesticated, but they rarely exceed 25 years in the wild.
They are carnivores but like the other species of bears, they are omnivorous which means that they eat both the plants and animals all through their lives. They spend a major portion of their life hunting for food in the trees. Walnuts, acorns, nuts, seeds and fruits like cherries, leaves, grasses, bamboo shoots and leaves, grasses, grubs, termites, insects and a majority of their diet comprises of rodent and birds. But, sometimes they feed on plants and occasional livestock in the farms.
Predators and Threats
Since they are large in size and ferocious in nature, they hardly have any natural predators tall through their lives. Tiger is the main predator of this breed and their small cubs are very vulnerable. Pack of wolves and brown bears in Russia are the other predators which can pose threat to them.
Asiatic Black Bear Interesting Facts and Features
- They are known by other names in Asia like Himalayan Black Bear, Asian Black Bear and Tibetan Black Bear
- They have a distinct v-shaped marking on their chest for which they are also known as “Moon Bear” in many regions of the world
- They are basically nocturnal animals and spend most of their time in the hollow trees or caves
- They feed on 160 species of tree-borne fruits alone.