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Bearing with bears: Male bears in KNP get two female companions

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Bearing with bears: Male bears in KNP get two female companions

Bearing with bears: Male bears in KNP get two female companions
June 09
12:31 2017

Herald Report

Two female brown bears have been released into the Khunjerab National Park (KNP) in Gojal, upper Hunza, according to local media reports.
The bears, bred at the Bear Rehabilitation Sanctuary and Bio-Resource Research Centre in Balkasar area of Chakwal District, were released into the park on Wednesday.
Balkasar Bear Sanctuary, established in 2010, provides a retirement and rehabilitation home, and veterinary care for rescued bears from bear-baiting events. It houses the endangered species of Asian black bears and Himalayan brown bears.
The bears were to be released in Rama Astore area but the plans were changed after the Prime Minister asked the wildlife authorities to release them in areas along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to visit the region to release the bears into the wild but his visit was cancelled owing to the bad weather.

“As all brown bears living in Khunjerab area are male, the shifting of two female bears will help increase the animal’s population,” Naeem Ashraf Raja, director wildlife department said, adding that the park has a proper system to monitor the activities of brown bears which are endangered and facing extinction.
Deosai in Karakoram Central Park is the habitat of brown bears in Gilgit-Baltistan. There are less than 100 brown bears left in the area, wildlife department sources told The High Asia Herald. Bears in Pakistan face imminent threat due a lack of awareness among people about the species’ ecological importance.

A herd of Marcopolo sheep in Khunjerab National Park. File Photos

There has been a decline in the bear population due to deforestation and increased human intrusion and commercial activities in the park area. Not only it is hunted for as a sport and killed for its crop-raiding activities, there is a whole lot of attraction to capturing young cubs and selling them in the market for the purpose of bear fighting, dogfights and training them to dance in a circus.

Main threats to bears include habitat degradation and hunting for gall bladder, fats, bones and skin. The longer-term survival of this species depends on protecting them and their habitat.

 

KNP

The 2,270 sq.km  KNP is one of the highest altitude parks in the world located adjacent to the Tashkorghan Natural Reserve (1,400,000ha) China’s Xinjiang autonomous region. It was established in April 1975, by then Prime Minister late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the recommendation of the internationally acclaimed wildlife biologist Dr George Schaller to protect the endangered Marcopolo sheep, which is only found in this area.

According to the local people, the population of Marco Polo sheep before 1975 was around 800 but now dropped to below 100 — thanks to the callousness of the civil and military bureaucracy and influential people who indulge in wanton hunting from the helicopter.

It has the highest density of snow leopards in the total Himalayan ecosystem which is the natural habitat of the cats. Over 2,000 Siberian ibex, widely distributed and abundant in the park but absent from neighbouring China are also present here. The park lies within the Karakoram-West

Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe eco-region and is one of the most important alpine biodiversity regions within Pakistan. 90 % of the park’s conservation and management is done by Shimshal community through Shimshal Trust for Nature (SNT) which has proved to be quite successful and replicated in the world as a model of community-based conservation.

A herd of yaks on KKH in Khunjerab National Park.–File Photo

The park is also home to some endangered and threatened species such as snow leopard, Marcopolo sheep, Himalayan ibex and Marmot, Tibetan red fox, Tibetan wolf, blue sheep and Tibetan wild ass or kiang (in Shimshal only), ermine, alpine weasel, stone martin, golden marmot, lynx, large-eared pika, cape hare, common field mouse, royle’s mountain vole, lesser shrew and migratory hamster.

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