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Study predicts massive habitat decline for the Himalayan brown bear by 2050 due to climate change

29th October, 2020 Science and Technology

Context: A recent study on the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) has predicted a significant reduction in suitable habitat and biological corridors of the species in the climate change scenario.

Himalayan brown bear

  • The Himalayan brown bear is one of the largest carnivores in the highlands of Himalayas.
  • It occupies the higher reaches of the Himalayas in remote, mountainous areas of Pakistan and India, in small and isolated populations, and is extremely rare in many of its ranges.
  • It is distributed is most vulnerable to global warming as this elevation belt is getting warmer faster than other elevation zones of Himalayas.

Studies outcome

  • The study carried out in the western Himalayas by scientists of Zoological Survey of India, predicted a massive decline of about 73% of the bear’s habitat by the year 2050.
  • These losses in habitat will also result in loss of habitat from 13 protected areas (PAs), and loss of connectivity in the majority of PAs.
  • The protected areas in the Himalayan region lose their effectiveness and representativeness, there is a need to adopt “preemptive spatial planning of PAs in the Himalayan region for the long-term viability of the species”.
  • “The suitable habitats were mapped outside the PAs and are closely placed to PAs; such areas may be prioritized to bring them into the PA network or enhanced protection,”
  • Adaptive spatial planning of PAs is aimed at minimising the risks and uncertainty of climate change.