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The main aim of the project that Bears in Mind is supporting since 2020, is to assess the population dynamics, developed management plan and implementation for the conservation of Asiatic Black Bear (ABB) and its habitat in district of Chitral, Northern Pakistan. Under the project “Population estimation and conservation of Asiatic Black Bear in potential in Hindukush Region Chitral Pakistan” the population field survey was conducted and based on the survey population distribution map for Chitral was developed and shared with other stakeholders. The market was assessed for the first time to get an overview on bear parts trade in the region. Stakeholders were consulted for ABB conservation. Human Bear Conflicts were assessed and the possible mitigation measures were also documented. For effective conservation of the ABB and its habitat, a management plan was jointly developed with the help of the local communities and other stakeholders. Activities were designed to reduce Human Bear Conflicts.

In Chitral district, the ABB remains the least studied and researched species, especially in the past three decades. Due to its unique geo-climatic conditions and ecology, Chitral district – more particularly the southern Chitral – provides ideal habitat for ABB to live in. However, due to lack of proper research, the potential of the region in terms of ABB, is unexplored.

Over the past two years, the Mountain Society for Research & Development Chitral has been implementing the project activities. The focus has been on:

  • Improved management of ABB habitat which integrates sustainable forest & land management and compatible conservation practice.
  • Participatory conservation to reduce Human Bear Conflicts and improve livelihoods of local communities.
  • Promote awareness and sensitization among the local communities and other stakeholders for the conservation of ABB (and associated biodiversity conservation).

Bears in Mind will continue the financial support in 2023 with the emphasis on empowering Indigenous Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) as tools for ABB conservation in Chitral, Pakistan.

In 2012, Bears in Mind started supporting research into the occurrence and distribution of the brown bear in Ghizer district. The Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) carries out the research in cooperation with the province of Gilgit Baltistan. The data on the bears are gathered by means of camera trapping (recordings made with hidden cameras), by mapping bear tracks such as paw prints, scratching and rub marks, and by collecting fecal samples for DNA testing. Interviews with the local community will hopefully provide more insight into bear-human conflicts and poaching. The commercial trade with China is very appealing to Pakistan and other countries in the Himalayan region, such as Nepal. 

The results of the research will be translated into a draft protection plan for brown bears in Ghizer district. In addition, the Snow Leopard Foundation is expanding their nature conservation activities to include these large carnivores. The local people are actively involved in the activities, which foster mutual respect and make protecting the bears a logical step. The results of the research will be published in scientific journals and a science magazine.