Biodiversity Conservation Society Nepal
In recent years, western Nepal has faced an increasing excessive human-wildlife conflict which resulted into retaliatory killing of bears. Baseline information of conflict, status and distribution of bears in general is lacking, for designing bear conservation and conflict mitigation measures.
This study, supported by Bears in Mind since 2023, will assess the extent and magnitude of Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus laniger) – Human Conflict and importantly Habitat Occupancy in Rara National Park, Nepal. The study will be conducted following an Occupancy Survey and Questionnaire Survey to assess the occupancy and habitat influencing variables as well as people’s perception and conflict zone.
The study will equally emphasize the conservation outreach program in coordination with local communities and schools, situated in close proximity to bear habitat, with the aim of reducing Human – Bear Conflict, raising community awareness regarding the importance of bear safety measures, and awareness of the legal status regarding poaching and hunting of bears.
Although Nepal has successful achievements in wildlife conservation, bears are never listed as a conservation priority species. The project team from Biodiversity Conservation Society Nepal (BIOCOSNEPAL) found bear presence in Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) up to 3,582m elevation and a population of 60 individuals in an area of 525 Km2. Villagers reported maximum crop damage by bears, especially maize. In the diet analysis, 84% of fecal samples confined agriculture crops in rainy season. The team also noticed poisoning, snaring, gunshots and killing of bears because of crop damage. Every year, 10-15 local people are injured by Asiatic black bears. The crop damage and human casualties have increased negative perceptions of local communities towards bears in general, which have led to retaliatory killing. Local communities and school students are not aware of bear ecology and behavior. Bears are not listed in the National Wildlife Damage Compensation guideline for the allocation of government support. Efforts are needed to stir up government authorities, community leaders and conservation related organizations to lead bear conservation in Nepal.
The project will engage existing local institutions for bear conservation by organizing substantial conservation education awareness programs, bear conservation workshops and promotions of bear-based tourism in the conflict prone sites of ACA. This project will assure community involvements, local budget leverage and government interventions for bear conservation in Nepal.