Animal Facts Himalayan Brown Bear

The Himalayan brown bear, (Ursus arctos isabellinus), is a sub-species of brown bear indigenous to the foothills of the Himalayas and northern Pakistan. This bear is reddish brown or sandy in color with males reaching a standing height of just over seven feet. Females of the species are a bit smaller reaching lengths of only about six feet. They are relatively small in relation to other bears but are one of the largest species of animal in their home region. Both males and females of the species have a characteristic hump on their shoulders.

They are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders eating a variety of plants, small mammals, and insects. When presented with the opportunity, they will also feed on larger mammals like goats and sheep. They typically feed twice per day, once before dawn and once in the late afternoon. The Himalayan brown bear does hibernate during the winter months beginning in late October and ending in early April.

Like all brown bears, the Himalayan brown bear is a solitary creature. Males seek out females during the mating season of May to mid-July but will only stay with the female for about two weeks. Females may be spotted accompanied by her cubs which are usually born during the months of January through March. Unlike other sub-species of brown bear, it is believed that the female Himalayan brown bear may only give birth once every three to four years and only produces one to two cubs per litter.

The Himalayan brown bear faces the threat of extinction for several reasons including cub poaching, hunting, and loss of habitat. Through education and conservation efforts, one population seems to be slowly on the rise in the Deosai National Park in Pakistan where it is believed that as many as 35-40 adult bears currently reside and are accompanied by several cubs. A report by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences cited this project as demonstrating promise for the future of these bears, however, said that managing mortality due to human causes in the wild populations is paramount to the bear’s survival. International trade of the animal or products made from the animal is currently prohibited by the Wildlife Protection Act in Pakistan.

Like the Tibetan blue bear, sightings of the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, may be attributed to the Himalayan brown bear or its tracks as some biologists believe the bear may not completely hibernate and may occasionally leave its den during the winter.