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Brown sloth bear sighting spurs Rajasthan forest dept study

After a brown sloth bear was sighted for the first time in Kailadevi forests in Rajasthan, the forest department has decided to install more camera traps to study the animal’s phenology -- periodic biological phenomena, such as breeding, in relation to climatic conditions.

jaipur Updated: May 06, 2017 20:11 IST
Sachin Saini
Sachin Saini
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan News,Brown sloth bear,forest
Brown sloth bear sighted in Kailadevi forest area.(HT Photo)

After a brown sloth bear was sighted for the first time in Kailadevi forests in Rajasthan, the forest department has decided to install more camera traps to study the animal’s phenology -- periodic biological phenomena, such as breeding, in relation to climatic conditions.

Phenology is the study of periodic animal and plant life cycle events and how these are influenced by variations in climate and habitat factors. Phenology helps in understanding the health of species and ecosystems.

“In camera traps installed, two bears were seen twice – first on January 22, 2017 and then on February 22 at 5.47am; one was brown and other black. A brown sloth bear was not sighted before in Rajasthan; this is the first time it has been seen in Karauli forest area,” said YK Sahu, field director of Ranthambore Tiger Project, Sawai Madhopur.

“Brown sloth bears are seen in the Himalayan region. The difference in colour and snout (projecting nose and mouth) of bears is a subject of study.”

Asked about the presence of a brown sloth bear in the state, Sahu said, “There is no link between the Himalayas and Rajasthan. It is possible that it (the bear sighted) could be a mutation of sloth bear. We will install more camera traps to study its phenology.”

Wildlife expert Dharmendra Khandal said village wildlife volunteers Hari Mohan and Hari Kesh Gujjar had reported sighting of two bears near Danda Kho in Kailadevi forest area -- one was brown. Later in January and February, the two bears were sighted in camera traps, and again one was brown.

Khandal said chief minister Vasundhara Raje, during a meeting of the state wildlife board’s standing committee, had mentioned in November 2016 that brown bears had been seen in Dholpur area.

On the sighting of a brown sloth bear, Wildlife Institute of India’s senior scientist YV Jhala said, “The colour change is interesting. It happens as there are black and white leopards and tigers. Certainly it cannot be brown bear seen in Himalayas, rather what is sighted in Rajasthan is a colour variant of sloth bear.”

Endangered caracal spotted

A caracal, an endangered species, was spotted for the first time on April 17 at Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur district. The caracal -- a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India – was spotted in a camera trap installed at the park.

The animal species is threatened by anthropogenic mortality and habitat loss due to conversion of natural habitat for agricultural land and settlements. Its natural habitat includes semi-deserts, open savannas, shrublands, moist woodlands and montane forests.

First Published: May 06, 2017 20:11 IST