Worldwide, populations of sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) and Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) are declining, and both species are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Population declines are thought to be the result of rapid habitat loss and degradation, and widespread poaching, but little is known about how these two partially sympatric species affect each other. In the Terai arc region, a lowland strip along the foothills of the Himalayas, there are sections where these two bear species overlap, and sections that outwardly appear similar, where they do not. The reasons why sloth bears and Asiatic black bears appear to coexist in some sections of the Terai arc but not elsewhere are unknown. In addition, where the species overlap, Asiatic black bears seem to be doing comparatively better. Our ultimate goal is to understand habitat preferences and complex ecological interactions between Asiatic black bears and sloth bears, and investigate whether Asiatic black bears could be reducing the viability of sloth bears as habitats are degraded.
Project funded by the International Association for Bear Research & Management (IBA) Research & Conservation Grants