The wildlife department set free two brown bears, nourished in Punjab Khunjrab, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), for better preservation in GB.
Following the instruction from the center, bears were shifted to Khunjrab National Park, which along the Karakorum Highway covers around 2,270 sqr km, and is one of the highest altitude parks in the world, adjacent to Taxkorgan Natural Reserve, China.
Ministry of Climate Change’s Biodiversity Programme Director Naeem Ashraf said the decision of shifting the brown bears was taken to save the species which is at risk of extinction.
The two female brown bears were bred at Bear Rehabilitation Sanctuary and Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) in Balkasar, Chakwal. Balkasar Bear Sanctuary provides a retirement and rehabilitation home, and veterinary care for rescued bears from bear-baiting events. It houses the endangered species of Asian black bears and Himalayan brown bears.
“The brown bears living in Khunjrab area are all male, the shifting of two female bears aimed to aid increasing population of the species. There are less than 100 brown bears left in the area.
Deosai National Park inhabits the maximum number of brown bears in Gilgit-Baltistan.” Raja who visited Khunjrab park to monitor shifting of bears said, adding that there is proper monitoring system at Khunjrab National Park.
According to media person the Khunjerab National Park provides the habitat for a number of endangered and threatened species like the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, and Himalayan ibex.
From past many years, there has been declining in the bear population due to deforestation and increased human-bear conflicts. Not only it is hunted for as a sport and killed for its crop-raiding activities, there is a whole lot of attraction to capturing young cubs and selling them in the market for the purpose of bear fighting, dogfights and training them to dance in a circus.
Bears in Pakistan face imminent threats with a lack of awareness, among people being the main threat, ignoring their ecological importance.
Main threats to bears include habitat degradation and hunting for gall bladder, fats, bones, and skin. The long-term survival of this species depends on protecting them, including their habitat.