75% of diet of Himalayan brown bear in Kashmir includes plastic, finds study

A study conducted by an India-based wildlife conservation organization found that 75% of food consumed by Himalayan brown bears in Kashmir was derived from trash, including plastic, chocolate and biryani. .

A large-scale study of Himalayan brown bear distribution and feeding patterns was conducted from May to October 2021 by Wildlife SOS with support from the Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Conservation Division.

A brown bear’s diet includes excreted plastic bags, powdered milk, chocolate wrappers and biryani. “The Kashmir Himalayan brown bear population has been a mystery to wildlife conservationists and researchers because of its limited distribution in the Himalayan alpine grasslands. said.

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“Himalayan brown bear populations, which are threatened with habitat destruction from a variety of anthropogenic pressures, including habitat encroachment, tourism and grazing pressure, have been steadily declining over the past century, and India There are only an estimated 500-750 bears left in the

The Himalayan brown bear is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. “To conserve these unique bears in Kashmir, Wildlife SOS conducted a survey in areas including Thajwas (Baltal) Wildlife Sanctuary, Sonamarg, Laxpathri, Nilgrath and Sarbal villages. This is due to its role as a habitat for bears that extends to Zojira,” the study reveals.

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One of the most fascinating and devastating findings of the study was that Himalayan brown bears are preying on litter and are rapidly becoming accustomed to it. Feces were found to excrete plastic carrier bags, powdered milk, chocolate covers, and even glass debris in some scats! It was 75% higher than sheep hunting,” the study reveals.

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Aaliya Mir, Wildlife SOS Project Manager and Head of Education, said: Recently, however, more and more brown bears have ventured into the lowlands in search of food and come into view of humans. ”

“To investigate them, our team utilized field methodologies such as camera traps and interviews with key stakeholders (locals, nomads, military officials). Wildlife SOS research team tracked animal tracks and scatter to gain a deeper understanding of bear behavior,” she said.

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