‘Endangered’ black bear found dead and skinned

Published November 9, 2015
AJK wildlife department officials examining a dead female black bear in this file photo taken on October 13, 2015 in Patikka wildlife centre. The omnivore was shot dead in Katha Piran village of Neelum valley. —Photo by author
AJK wildlife department officials examining a dead female black bear in this file photo taken on October 13, 2015 in Patikka wildlife centre. The omnivore was shot dead in Katha Piran village of Neelum valley. —Photo by author

MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Wildlife Department found the body of an Asiatic black bear in Rahimkot village on Saturday and have started investigations into its death.

The female bear was spotted by an AJK Forest Department official, Chaudhry Ilyas, as it ‘lay dead in a water channel’.

According to Mr Ilyas, he moved the body to a house at the edge of the village and locked it in.

When the wildlife department reached the house to claim the body it was found that the bear had been skinned from the back for the extraction of fat after it had been locked inside the house.

Some residents from the nearby village of Premkot told the wildlife department they had seen two cubs with the bear. It is not yet known if the cubs were caught by someone.

Naeem Iftikhar Dar, a deputy director at the wildlife department said: “Two officers have been detailed to conduct an investigation into the matter.”

He told Dawn the body had been sent to the wildlife department’s centre in Patikka, along the Neelum Valley Road for a necropsy scheduled on Monday.

The Asiatic black bear is a threatened species, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list. Once found across the country, the bear is now only confined to wetter, forested areas or the Himalayas.

Even though it is a threatened species, conservationists say no measures have been undertaken for the black bears protection in Pakistan where it is now near extinction and its habitat is threatened by illegal forest cutting.

The animal is much resented by locals because it destroys crops and often attacks their livestock, and sometimes, even humans. It is also hunted for fat which is used to treat many illnesses by the locals. It is also widely believed that the bear’s fat relieves bone and joint pain and enhances sexual potency.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2015

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