Resources Himalaya Foundation and Environmental Graduates in Himalaya successfully organized our monthly talk program PYCF with Dr. Rabin Kadariya, Conservation Officer at National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) on January 7, 2022. He presented a talk on “Genetics, Ecology and Conservation of Himalayan Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus laniger) in Nepal.” With short welcoming note and introduction of guest speaker from the EGH coordinator, Ms. Srijana Sigdel, the platform was handed over to the speaker.
Mentioning different species of Asiatic black bears, their global distribution and the conservation background, Dr. Kadariya focused on the genetic diversity, phylogeny revealed by non-invasive surveys along with the seasonal diet and general habitat characteristics of Himalayan black bears in the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA). He stated that the reported higher mean expected heterozygosity of Asiatic black bear populations, lesser estimated minimum population density (11.5 bears/ 100km2) with no signature of population sub-structure among the ACA populations, is indicating a high degree of admixture throughout the conservation area. The intraspecific phylogeny demonstrated that the wild population of Asiatic black bears, Ursus thibetanus laniger from Nepal are genetically distinct than Ursus thibetanus tibetanus and belong to an ancient lineage of continental populations. Dr. Kadariya mentioned that, contrary to expectation, the bear presence was found to be highly co-existing with livestock grazing, which might be due to temporal differences in foraging of livestock and bears, and not so affected by human disturbances. Further, Himalayan black bears preferred mixed broad-leaved, particularly Quercus dominant forests in ACA having a variety of foods and high abundance; wild fruits/nuts in autumn and maize in rainy seasons. Thus, linking it with conservation, Dr. Kadariya gave an insight that the human-bear conflict management is important in the area, since the major food has been found to be agricultural crops. Also the success of community based conservation in the area was appreciated as the Himalayan black bear in ACA have been conserved with maintained genetic diversity. The presentation was followed by a discussion session and ended with a vote of thanks from Dr. Ramji Bogati, Board Member of Resources Himalaya Foundation.