Much to the delight of Jungle book fans, Baloo is getting a hang of his necessities in the Himalayan mountain ranges. Himalayan brown bears have made a comeback to the Drass region of Kargil in Ladakh. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife department, this is the first sighting of these bears since the 1999 Kargil War that destroyed much of their habitat.
A family of three adult females and five grown-up cubs were seen passing through the Himalayan mountain ranges by Intesar Suhail on May 12 who said that heavy artillery use of over three months drove the bears away during the war. Suhail is a Kargil Wildlife Warden and told The Hindu that no such incident has ever been reported from the three regions where the bears originate.
In the interview, he said that his Wildlife department team that is working on the brown bear census spotted the family of eight early in the morning, when such sightings are only reported in the night. “ A brown bear requires about 100 square kilometer as its territory to survive and any human intervention disturbs its ecology. However, in Drass, people have made videos of brown bears in different far-off areas. Besides, the Wildlife Department recorded 25 raids on cattle sheds by brown bears in the past six months in Kargil, reflecting growing numbers. The Tiger Hill, one of the battle fields, was a prominent brown bear habitat. The war and the movement of troops did impact the animal’s behavior and ecology,” he said
In a report by WWF, Aishwarya Maheshwari spotted a Female bear and a cub in 2011. As the Senior Project Officer with WWF-India’s Snow Leopard Project, Maheshwari has had many encounters. “The Himalayan brown bear is a shy mammal which avoids humans and usually retreats upon encountering them. I have been lucky enough to sight this beautiful creature three times since 2008, during my study on the snow leopard and its co-predators, stretching across the hills of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh as well as Jammu and Kashmir. I had seen a mother and cub in the same area in November 2010 at a distance of 700m,” he said in the interview.
He was a partner in the survey done in 2010, ‘Carnivore-human conflict in Kargil and Drass’, carried by the Rufford Small Grant and the State Wildlife Department. The research pointed out an increased bear activity in the region where cattle and livestock was disappearing.
Bear sightings have not improved as the species still remains on the list of vulnerable animals in International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Feature Image Courtesy: Indiasendangered.com