When we grow a garden, we have to take care of it i.e. watering, trimming, spraying, fertilizing and many other things are to be taken care of. Similarly, naturally growing forests can survive only if someone continues to do the same. Imagine a machine that eats the insects, and small animals that damage trees, and also fertilizes and disperses the seeds in the soil in time to grow more trees and forests. It also maintains a balance in tree species so that one tree does not affect the growth of other (invasive Plants). In winter, when the leaves of the trees fall, this machine automatically shuts down and sleeps for four to five months, and then wakes up in the spring and starts working again. This efficient natural machine is none other than a bear.
Types and distribution:
There are eight types of bear in the world. Pakistan is fortunate to have two species of it while all over Asia five species are found. One species is found in South America, while four species are found in North America. It is not found in Australia, Africa and Antarctica. Two species are found in Europe as well. Our major concern is Asiatic bears which are as follows:
1. Brown bear
It is native to high altitude, cold and dry regions. There are many subspecies of this bear. These bears are named after the region in which they are found. These bears are also found in America, Europe, Russia, Central Asia (Kazakhstan, etc.), Iran and Pakistan. In Pakistan, it is found in Deosai, the world’s second-largest plateau in Gilgit-Baltistan near the Karakoram Mountains. This is the real bear, beautiful heavy and rare, that gave rise to many cartoon characters and teddy bears. In summer it feeds on grasses, native plants, and insects and hunts on small native animals like sheep and mountain goats. Not all bears hibernate. Usually, bears hibernate in colder areas, where food is scarce in winter. Hibernation is the process in which an animal sleeps for a few months. Brown bear usually hibernates.
2. Asian Black Bear
It is often seen dancing and doing tricks in the streets of Asia. The black bear is also found in America but is a separate species and different from species found in Asia. There is a slight difference in their physical characteristics depending on the region. For example, in Pakistan, it is found in the mountain ranges of Mount Sulaiman and Toba Kakar in Balochistan. But it has less body hair than other Asian black bears and it also hibernates in winter. It is listed as critically endangered in Pakistan because these bears are caught from their natural habitats for dance exhibitions, bear baiting and also used in different exhibition circuses. Their claws and canines are removed in bear baiting and they are left to fight with dogs. These bears are also beaten with sticks and taught to perform different stunts on the streets.
3. Sun Bear
It is a bear of tropical forests where it rains all year round and the climate is hot and humid and the area has dense thick forests.
It is the smallest bear of all species found in Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.). On its breast is a white yellowish, large U-shaped mark that looks like a sun. That is why it is called Sun Bear. Its tongue is quite long, with which it licks and eats insects, termites, ants from the trees and prevents the trees from harmful effects of these organisms. It eats the spare leaves, twigs, and fruits from trees and in turn spreads its seeds through its dung, causing more dense forests. This bear mostly builds nests high up in the trees to protect them from tigers. Since it lives in evergreen forests where food is abundant and conditions are not severe so it does not hibernate.
Panda is also a type of bear and looks very innocent. It is native to the highlands of Sichuan province in China and a few areas around it where there are dense forests. Pandas are found in zoos everywhere in the rest of the world. They are owned by China and China takes rent from all other countries and has the authority to take back these pandas from them.
Panda is famous for eating bamboo trees. 90% of its diet comes from chewing bamboo trees while it also feeds on insects and other small animals like mice etc. It chews bamboo and urinates 40 times a day and provides free fertilizers to the forests. Experts did not understand the panda’s black and white color, so they assumed that the black colour helps it hide in forests and the white colour helps it in snow. It usually comes to feed in low green areas during snowfall. Panda does not hibernate. Another interesting fact is that a baby panda is pink in colour at birth, about the size of a mouse, which then gradually develops into a panda. Extreme beauty has overwhelmed him and its species is endangered.
5. Sloth bear:
It is found in the dry and dense forests of India. It is famous for the thick fur on its body.
Some interesting facts about bears:
1. Bear’s leg bones are similar to our leg bones, which is why they can stand and sit like humans.
2. Bears live in underground dens, in the roots of large dry trees, and deciduous trees.
3. Not all bears hibernate, while some remain dormant for up to six months. In some species only female hibernates.
4. The bear’s jaws are extremely powerful, its long pointed teeth (canines) and claws make it an excellent fighter. All of these features help him to build caves, chew tree branches, and search for insects under heavy rocks. But bear also uses them in times of danger. Sun bears who have golden patches of hair on their chest resembling a sun, would stand up straight in a time of danger, show the sun to the opponent and make a sound to scare them.
5. Bears are solitary animals and love to live alone.
6. They do not have natural predators except tigers. Leopard often preys upon their cubs.
7. Bears are omnivorous and their diet mostly consists of food other than meat but they also hunt deers and moose. Brown bear feeds on fish while some are fond of honey.
8. Bears’ sense of smell is much sharper than humans even sharper than that of many animals, such as dogs. That’s why they approach people who come on a picnic with food.
How to survive a bear’s attack?
If you ever come across a bear, walk away slowly without further provoking the animal.
In most cases, bear doesn’t want to attack you. Don’t run, play dead instead. Don’t climb the tree as bears are also good climbers. (To be continued..)