Bear-attack trends highlight need for conflict mitigation

Why in news?

It’s not wild elephants or man-eating tigers, but sloth bears that cause the most number of human deaths in central India’s Kanha–Pench wildlife corridor. An analysis of bear attacks in Central India.

FACTS FOR PRELIMS

The sloth bear Melursusursinus is endemic to the Indian subcontinent.

The species is common in the 16,000 sq. km Kanha–Pench wildlife corridor which connects the Kanha and Pench tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh.

The sloth bear evolved from ancestral brown bears during the Pleistocene and shares features found in insect-eating mammals through convergent evolution.

The population isolated in Sri Lanka is considered a subspecies.

Compared to brown and black bears, sloth bears have lankier builds, long, shaggy coats that form a mane around the face (similar to that of a lion), long, sickle-shaped claws, and a specially adapted lower lip and palate used for sucking insects.

Sloth bears breed during spring and early summer and give birth near the beginning of winter. They feed on termites, honeybee colonies, and fruits.

Sloth bears sometimes attack humans who encroach on their territories. Historically, humans have drastically reduced their habitat and diminished their population by hunting them for food and products such as their bacula and claws.

These bears have been used as performing pets due to their tameable nature.

The sloth bear is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat loss and poaching.

SOURCE – THE HINDU (26/11/2017)