Muhammad Naeem Awan, Muhammad Sidique Awan, Muhammad Ali Nawaz, Shoab Hameed, Muhammad Kabir, David C. Lee
Ursus 2021 (32e23), 1-10, (16 December 2021) https://doi.org/10.2192/URSUS-D-20-00017.2
KEYWORDS: Asiatic black bear, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, elevation, habitat use, hierarchical logistic regression, Pakistan, sign surveys, Ursus thibetanus
The Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is threatened throughout its range and assessed as nationally vulnerable in Pakistan. Habitat degradation and loss, illegal exploitation, and human–bear conflict are key threats to the species, but there is a lack of empirical knowledge regarding its occurrence in Pakistan. In 2012, we conducted a sign survey study to classify Asiatic black bear presence in a little studied and isolated region of the Kashmiri Mountains in Azad, Jammu and Kashmir, northern Pakistan. We compared bear presence in 5 habitat types (agriculture, forest, pasture, plantation, and scrubland) across an elevational range of 910 to 2,990 m. We used hierarchical logistic regression analysis to identify whether elevation, habitat and/or the interaction between the two explained bear presence in the region. Type of bear sign was significantly associated with some habitats, although claw marks were not associated with any habitat type. The strongest positive predictor of bear presence was the interaction between elevation and forest habitat, with greater presence (37.5%) in forest habitat at higher elevations between 1,890 and 2,855 m. The predicted likelihood of bears occurring in agriculture, plantation, and scrubland habitats was always <10%, regardless of elevation, and >30% in forest habitat. Our findings contribute to the national understanding of black bear presence and we provide recommendations for actions that support effective conservation management of the species in Pakistan.