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A black bear has been sighted along the Pak-Afghan border after ten years. – File photo courtesy Creative Commons

CHITRAL, May 30: Spotting of black bear in Arandu forest along the Afghan border excited biodiversity specialists and officials of wildlife department as the species has been declared extinct in the area for the last one decade.

“This species of bear has been declared endangered on this side of the Hindukush belt since long,” said range officer Irshad Ahmed while confirming presence of black bear in the area here on Wednesday.

He said that population of brown bear was in ‘comfortable’ position in the southern parts of the district.

The sub-divisional forest officer of Chitral Gol National Park, Mohammad Buzurg, said that the species had never been spotted in the national park since its establishment in 1984.

He said that the national park was known for biodiversity while it also housed the globally endangered species of snow leopard.

Azhar Ali, a biodiversity specialist, said that the black bear had a sparse population in the southern parts of the district bordering Afghanistan till late 1970s after which their number started receding rapidly.

Regarding the reasons of its extinction, he said that fat derived from the body of the animal was used as medicine for a number of human ailments that led to their ruthless hunting.

“The forests of the southern Chitral border the dense forests of Afghanistan and transmigration of animals takes place in pursuit of congenial and suitable environment,” he said, giving another reason for the extinction of the species.

Mr Ali said that spotting of black bear was a welcome development that indicated that the animals were inclined to migrate to that side of the forests owing to increasing human activities in the forests of Afghanistan.