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Human Perceptions about the Himalayan Brown Bear and other Carnivores in Chitral District in the Hindu Kush Range, Pakistan

Human Perceptions about the Himalayan Brown Bear and other Carnivores in Chitral District in the Hindu Kush Range, Pakistan

Shoaib Hameed1, Shakeel Ahmad1, Jaffar Ud Din2 and Muhammad Ali Nawaz3*

1Department of Zoology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
2Snow Leopard Trust, Pakistan Program, Islamabad
3Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
 
* Corresponding author: nawazma@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

The Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) historically occupied the vast mountain ranges of South and Central Asia. Their range has shrunken significantly in the past century and they currently live in small and isolated populations. Most of their range has not been surveyed; hence information on their distribution is largely based on anecdotal information and expert judgments. The present study investigated the species’ current distribution in the Hindu Kush Range in Pakistan, gathering information on human-brown bear conflict along with other large carnivore species in the study area. Multiple survey techniques questionnaire surveys, sign surveys and camera trapping were used during the period 2008–2010 in five study blocks delineated on natural watersheds in Pakistan’s Chitral district. Based on questionnaire surveys, sign surveys and direct sighting, Himalayan brown bear presence was confirmed only in the Yarkhun and Laspur valleys. Ninety-six respondents (59 from Laspur Valley and 37 from Broghil Valley) reported a total of 449 livestock losses (90 heads per year) to carnivore species—grey wolf (Canis lupus), snow leopard (Panthera pardus), Himalayan lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus)—during the five-year (2005–2009) period, which translated into an economic loss of USD 34,297 (PKR 2,931,022); USD 357 (PKR 30,531) per household. Himalayan brown bear was not accounted for any livestock loss. Though the public was seen to be strongly against large carnivores, brown bear was considered ‘less dangerous’. Despite limited conflict with humans, brown bear has lost a large part of its historical range in the Hindu Kush Range. The species is confined to the eastern valleys where it is maintaining connectivity with brown bear in Gilgit-Baltistan towards the east and with Afghan populations towards the west.

 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

August

Vol. 54, Iss. 4, Pages 1501-2001

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