CONSERVATION OF THE ENDANGERED SPECIES OF ASIATIC BLACK BEAR (URSUS THIBETANUS) THROUGH INCREASING PUBLIC AWARENESS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
Project background:

The Baluchistan black bear (Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus) is a threatened subspecies of Asiatic black bear and listed critically endangered (CR) by IUCN Red List and It has been included on CITES Appendix I. Small and isolated populations of this bear is distributed only in SE Iran and S Pakistan and a little information exist on population size, distribution range, habitat etc. In Iran, this bear inhabited mountainous thorny forest of Kerman, Hormuzgan, and Sistan & Baluchistan provinces. The status of this bear in Iran, has suffered a dramatic decline during recent decades and this bear disappeared from many areas. Therefore, the current relict populations are suspected to be under immediate risk of extinction. Now this threatened bear encounter many threats in its low quality habitats in Iran. Even though defined as a “protected animal” by national laws, legal protection for this endangered bear rarely enforced (only one protected area from more than 200 national PAs occurred in the species range).

Location of project site; Latitude: 28, 50 to 29, 05N and Longitude: 57, 38 to 57, 04E

The area considered in this project is centered on Bahr-e Asman Mountains, particularly Dehbakri- Dalfard region, 20 km N of the Jiroft city, Kerman Province, southeast Iran. This area (approximately 1100 km2) is the most promising habitat for Asiatic black bear in Iran which host the largest population of the species in country. The forest and semi-forest parts of this area range from 1000 to 3500 m above sea level. The topography of the Bahr-e Asman range consists of high mountain pastures, steep mountain slopes, gorges and valleys. These mountainous areas are predominantly covered by Mount Atlas pistachio (Pistacia atlantica, Pistacia khinjuk), maple (Acer monspessulanum) and almond (Amygdalus lycioides). Leopards (Panthera pardus) and wolves (Canis lupus), wild goats (Capra aegagrus), wild sheeps (Ovis orientalis) are the other large mammals in this area. The area receives an average annual rainfall of 260 mm, mostly during winter (December–March). The mean annual temperature is 15 ?C. Summers are dry, and maximum temperature may frequently exceed 35 ?C. The steep topography, rapid drainage and short wet season make the availability of surface water is low during the summer. The main economic activity is farming livestock, mostly goat and agriculture.

Project summary

In this project we will provide bear educational presentations to schools and civic groups, increase public awareness, determining one area as a Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Area and Territory (ICCA) in collaboration with game guards and local guards, preparing a management plan and continuing researches, to secure the future of the Baluchistan black bear as one of the most threatened and rare species of Iran fauna. We identified main threats for survival of the species by gathering field data, questionnaire surveys and scientific studies, now we are trying to solve existed problem for this bear by conducting above- mentioned activities.

In this project we are addressing negative interaction of Baluchistan black bears with local people, negative effects of overgrazing, deforestation and habitat fragmentation and destruction on Baluchistan black bears survival. Conflicts between humans and animals which lead to negative human perceptions can complicate the conservation of a species that is important to the entire ecosystem is another important issues that will be tackle. We also address low public awareness about Baluchistan black bears. Moreover, in this project we will address other essential risks such as poaching for bile or cubs for this vital species.

Public awareness aim is to achieve large scale appreciation for and tolerance of black bears in Jiroft and support for their conservation. Public awareness objectives focus on 1) implementing an educational and media campaign directed at specific publics to increase awareness of its importance in ecosystem, 2) raising local students awareness about environment, bears and bears conservation 3) declining intensity of human/bear conflicts in the targeted area, and 4) develop appropriate bear-specific curricula for use in various grade levels, primary school through high schools, 4) providing citizens mechanisms to experience bears, demonstrate interest in them, and show support for conservation efforts.

Determining one area as an Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Area and Territory (ICCA) is to secure habitat for black bears in the area that will provide for an overall population that exceeds, over the long-term. Determining ICCA aim objectives focus on 1) identification suitable habitat for bears in the area as a place for the ICCA, 2) managements of a determined area by researchers and local people joint-produced regulations, 3) declining bear- human conflicts, 4) making a management group, 5) increasing local people income trough tours to the ICCA.

Preparing a management plan incorporating governments and local decision makers and continuing researches is to foster improved bear habitat management on public and private lands. This aim objectives focus on 1) understand the critical direct and indirect impacts of human activity (present and future) that affect bear habitat, 2) fostering improved habitat management, 3) monitor black bear subpopulation habitats and connectivity between these habitats by scientifically documenting data.

Activities and methodology

First a baseline on current situation will be prepared through participatory meeting so that we can evaluate the project in the end. The level of knowledge of students about bears and nature will be test by pre-test and after the education by e post-test. Educating material such as books, news, and handbook for teachers and etc. will be made and also available on the website for future teaching.
During this project, 4 schools in Jiroft City, 2 in Dehbakri region, and 4 in villages located inside targeted area would get educated. Local people will be interviewed in three months in two habitats of Asiatic Black Bear. Then, educating programs would be prepared, according to the amount of conflicts in each region. Workshops would be held to aware farmers, ranchers, hunters, and DOE game guards about the bears, why they are important and how can they protect them.

Another goal of this project is to protect a habitat with the help of local people. In the participatory meetings, the suitable areas will be recognize and one (or if possible two) areas will be choose. Locals, game guards and ecology experts will obtain the rules to manage this area. For helping the local people to have a sustainable income through this area, tourists will visit this area and tours will be made in the suitable seasons. This will indirectly lead to decrease poaching bears for bile and also gives them more motivation for conserve the area as they will have other incomes.

We will also study about the species to find other important issues for conservation of the species such as identifying corridors and make sure that they are secure or studying the bear habitat use to find out best areas to protect. To make sure that these protections will continue after finishing the project, we need to make a managing plan by participating all the stakeholders so that all of them will agree on the plans.

Project Outputs:

•Raising the public awareness about the importance of the bears and the necessity of having them in the habitats.

•Raising the local student’s awareness about the Environment in general and also about the bears.

•Raising public awareness through the mass media.

•Determining one area as a Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCAs) and conserving habitats in collaboration with game guards and local guards

•Conserving the ICCA by the collaboration of game guards and local guards.

•Holding a tour to the ICCA to familiarize local people with tourists and their needs and benefits

•Making groups for local women to make handcraft and other product to provide a better livelihood for them

•Creating a fund for both men and women to have income and can compensate the damage to the crops and livestock

•Forming a working group of experts and different stakeholders and meet every 6 months

 

Project Snapshot

Grantee: KANOON PAZOUHESH VA HEFAZET AZ TABIAT PAYDAR MOHITBAN
Country: Iran
Area Of Work: Biodiversity
Operational Phase: Phase 5
Grant Amount: US$ 37,200.00
Co-Financing Cash: US$ 8,074.00
Co-Financing in-Kind: US$ 27,000.00
Project Number: IRA/SGP/OP5/Y2/STAR/BD/12/01(167)
Start Date: 11/2012
End Date: 3/2017
Status: Satisfactorily Completed

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