Asiatic bears in Kashmir being studied through satellite images | india | Hindustan Times
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Asiatic bears in Kashmir being studied through satellite images

india Updated: Nov 14, 2009 16:47 IST
Toufiq Rashid

On Monday a residential area in Srinagarwas in for a shock, a wild black bear was seen roaming around in the bylanes of the mohalla. This, however, was not a stray incident, this was 49th wild bear rescued from residential areas since April this year.

Linking the behavioural change in the habitat to climate change, the wildlife department is studying the impact of the climate change by monitoring the wildbears with satellite collars.

The frequency of such incidents in the past has prompted the wildlife department to study the behaviour of the bears in wild. A family of bears, a male, female and a cub in Dachigam national park in Srinagarhave already got the collars last month and three more are likely to get them soon. Asiatic black bear has been declared
as a protected species by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Asiatic bears have been descending to residential areas across the valley however there have been more incidents in three South Kashmir districts Shopian, Pulwama and Anatnag—16 such incidents have happened in the area. According to data with the wildlife department about 25 people have been killed by the bears in past four years and 150 have been injured. The man animal conflict has also resulted in killing of seven blackbears in the past few years.

``All this is being directly linked to climate change, winter months are getting shorter, there is erractic snowfall, availability of food is not there. There are reports that the bear are not hibernating at all but we need scientific data to validate it. So the collars will be great help,’’ said R.D.Tiwari, chief Wildlife warden of Jammu and Kashmir.
``For example if the bear is not moving we will get to know that it is hibernating. This collar will actually help us study not only the complexities of the behaviour but also complexities of the animals habitat,’’ he added.

This is for the first time that the satellite collars are being used in the state to study animal behaviour. Radio collars were used for Hangul A satellite can automatically pick up the signal from a collar in the dark and even through harsh weather
conditions. The collars consist of a special transmitter that sends a signal to a passing satellite. A computer on board the satellite determines the location of the animal and sends the information to one of the ground stations. The researchers get the exact location of the animal every three days and get information about movement and habitat.

Part of the ongoing research project by the Wildlife instituteof India, the satellite collars will track the movements of the bears and study their ecological behaviour and reasons for the increased man animal conflict. The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun is regularly monitoring the movements of these black bears and the movement details are forwarded
to the J-K’s Wildlife department after every three or four days.
Total wild animals rescued (April-October): 152 (49 Bears, 38 leopards, 7 musk dear, 1 snow leopard, 11 porcupines 2 wild cats, monkeys and other animals)

Wild Animals captured and released back: 16 bears, 5 leopards

Wild animals chased: 33 bears, 30 leopards.