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Abstract

We conducted questionnaire based interviews (n = 1873) of respondents coming from 258 localities about bear tracts in northern parts of Pakistan in 2012-2014 to study Himalyan brown (U. arctos isalbellinus) and Himalayan black (U. t. laniger) bears. Brown bears were more frequent in northern latitudes (northern Chitral, Ghizer, Gilgit and Skardu), while black bears were widely distributed in southern latitudes (Battagram). Both brown and black bears are present in central latitudes (Astor, Diamir, Kohistan and Mansehra). We identified 34 populations of brown bears; a large population in the Deosai Plateau and small to very small populations in other localities. We identified 9 isolated meta-populations sharing common gene pools; 7 (Bomborat, Gias, Chowgram, Laspur-Malkov, Koshi-Palas, Phunder-Yasin, Khunjerab) very small with serious inbreeding and threat of extinction, while Deosai and Diamir-Astor populations were large but were expected to have a high level inbreeding. Black bears were present in 45 localities; larger populations in three localities of Battagram (Nagram, Rahing and Shamli). We identified 6 meta-populations of black bears; Kohistan-Batagram-Mansehra, Diamir-Astor and south Chitral meta-populations were large; but 3 other populations (Thack, Hisper-Minipin and Chasma) were small/very small, possibly having high inbreeding. Bears raid standing maize crops (regular and severe in 2 localities and irregular and severe in 6) and fruit (apricot, grape, mulberry and walnut). Average annual bears depredation of 54 cattle, 188 goat/sheep, 4 yaks, and 9 horses/donkeys/mules were reported, inflicting an economic loss of Pak Rs. 2,840,000 (US$ 28,400) to the livestock farming community. Respondents reported 4 incidences of bear attack (1 killed, 3 injured) and 2 cases of cub poaching during 2013.


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