Himalayan brown bears (HBBs) were common species in all mountain regions of Kyrgyzstan. However, due to anthropogenic factors in areas of habitat, the number was reduced, and in some places, the species disappeared. Locally called as aiu and used in many place names such Aiu-Bulak (spring of bear), Aiu-Tör (highland pasture of bear), or Aiu-Üngkür (cave of bear), indicating their much wider geographic presence in the past. Traditionally brown bears associated with the forest landscapes, however in conditions of the Central Asian region they occur in highland steppes as well. For instance, there is evidence of their presence in syrt zones, in alpine meadows of Khan-Tengiri mountains, Ak-Sai and Arpa highland valleys in Kyrgyzstan.
The goal of this research project by the International Mountain Institute, International University of Kyrgyzstan (supported by Bears in Mind since 2022), is to better understand and update the data on present distribution status, ecology and seasonal food habits of the HBBs. The main study site will be the Naryn State Nature Reserve, which is an important component of the habitat of nationally endangered brown bears, globally vulnerable snow leopards (Panthera uncia), Himalayan wolves and wild ungulate species such as argali, ibex, maral and roe deer.