Himalayan littering leading to brown-bear habit changes

Large-scale littering in the Himalayas by trekkers and campers have led to Himalayan brown bears — a critically endangered species close to extinction — being drawn to human detritus and losing their natural abilities to hunt. Conservationists say such One such “conditioned-animal”, a nine-month-old brown bear, was found running haywire with its head stuck in a food-can at a campsite for Amarnath pilgrims and hikers in Panchtarini in September. The cub was rescued by the state wildlife protection department, airlifted to Pahalgam and kept under observation for almost two months.

Last week, around December 24, the officials finally sent it to the permanent care of a bear rescue centre run with the help of animal welfare organisation Wildlife SOS, where it will spend the rest of its life.
“The bear seemed to be an orphan and was living off kitchen waste and garbage. They are opportunist feeders and since there is no proper disposal of kitchen waste, especially at the campsites, they become habituated to this, ultimately losing their natural instinct to hunt,” Wildlife Warden (Sourth Division) Intesar Suhail told IANS.
Besides, due to its dependency on the garbage, experts also fear the hostility of people as another threat the bears face. According to Suhail, this is not the first such instance and he had witnessed several bears living off and wandering around garbage in Dras, the Himalayan gateway to Ladakh, most of which were dumped around army camps.bears rescued recently from different regions of Jammu and Kashmir will never return to the wild.

 

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