In a remarkable development for India’s wildlife conservation, the first-ever confirmed sighting of the rare Tibetan Brown Bear (scientific name: Ursus arctos pruinosus) was recorded in the high altitudes of North Sikkim. This discovery, made by the joint efforts of the Sikkim Forest Department and WWF-India, marks a significant addition to the country’s mammal diversity and highlights the ecological richness of the region.
Location of Sighting: The bear was spotted in the Mangan district of North Sikkim, a region known for its pristine landscapes and rich biodiversity.
Camera Trap Evidence: Camera traps installed in the area captured images of the bear in December 2023, revealing its characteristic yellowish scarf-like collar that broadens from the shoulders to the chest.
Conservation Significance: This sighting is a groundbreaking revelation for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists, as it adds a new subspecies to India’s mammalian portfolio and emphasizes the importance of preserving the state’s precious wildlife.
Characteristics and Habitat of the Tibetan Brown Bear
Appearance and Diet: The Tibetan Brown Bear, also known as the Tibetan Blue Bear, is an omnivore with a diet generally consisting of marmots and alpine vegetation. It is distinct from the more commonly found Himalayan Black Bear in terms of appearance, habitat, and behavior.
Habitat: This rare bear inhabits high-altitude alpine forests, meadows, and steppes above 4000 meters and is very shy of human contact, making it seldom observed in the wild.
Adaptation to Environment: It is uniquely adapted to the harsh conditions of the Tibetan Plateau and is one of the rarest subspecies of bears in the world.
Ecological and Cultural Importance
Cultural References: The elusive nature of this creature has inspired folklore, such as the Yeti legends, across the Himalayas. It has been a subject of intrigue among the Dokpas, the nomadic herders from the high-altitude areas of the Tso Lhamo plateau and Muguthang.
Conservation Status: The Tibetan Brown Bear is accorded the highest protection status under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a protected species.
Important Questions Related to Exams
1. Where was the first-ever confirmed sighting of the rare Tibetan Brown Bear recorded in India?
2. What cultural references and folklore are associated with the Tibetan Brown Bear in the Himalayan region?
3. What conservation status is accorded to the Tibetan Brown Bear under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and CITES?
Kindly share your responses in the comment section.