April 29, 2009 | 2
A rare subspecies of the Asian black bear may soon disappear from its native Iran, according to reports from the country’s Mehr News Agency.
Known as the Baluchistan bear (Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus), the critically endangered subspecies exists only in Iran and Pakistan. The Iranian bear was previously believed to be extinct, but was rediscovered in 1973. By 1998, the last date that solid numbers are available, there were just 10-20 bears estimated in the country, according to the 11th International Conference on Bear Management & Research, held in Gatlinburg, Tenn., held that year.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Baluchistan bear ”is nationally listed as critically endangered in Pakistan." But while it is also legally protected in Iran, the nation has made no efforts to actually preserve the species. In fact, according to Mehr News Agency, "officials from the Environment Department have shrugged off the matter."
Mehr reports that farmers, who frequently kill bears they feel are threatening their crops or goat herds, have not been informed that the bears are at risk of extinction and are legally protected.
Like all Asian black bears, also known as moon bears, the Iranian bear has a large white spot shaped like a V on its chest.
Kind of like a target.
Image: Asian black bear, via Wikipedia