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Habitat Suitability Modeling of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Habitat Suitability Modeling of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan

Usman Ali1,2*, Basharat Ahmad1, Riaz Aziz Minhas1, Muhammad Kabir3, Muhammad Siddique Awan1, Liaqat Ali Khan1 and Muhammad Bashir Khan1

1Department of Zoology, The University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad 13100, AJ&K. 
2Department of Zoology, Mirpur University of Science and Technology, Mirpur 10250, AJ&K.
3Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, University of Haripur, Haripur 22620, Pakistan
* Corresponding author:


Effective conservation and management of Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus requires the identification and in-depth knowledge of suitable habitats. Habitat suitability models (HSMs) have wide use in the understanding of niche requirements, hence prioritizing management and conservation issues for threatened species. This study aimed to identify the current range and suitable habitat of black bear in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) using the maximum entropy model. Field surveys were conducted between 2015 and 2020 to collect data using direct and indirect evidence. Maximum entropy (Maxent) models revealed an average AUC of 0.84 (+0.03) designating a high accuracy. Main predictors of HSM of black bear were elevation (34%), temperature (23%) and land cover (16%). This model predicted 1703 km2 as suitable habitat for black bear in Azad Jammu and Kashmir while 5802 km2 was not suitable for the species distribution. Most of the suitable habitat of Asiatic black bear was confined to the Line of Control (LoC). A park for peace is suggested alongside the LoC to promote the endurance of black bear and other wildlife species. Low numbers of black bear are found in the extreme north of Neelum valley, Lachrat, and Bagh study sites where habitat degradation is considerable. Habitat management practices including preventing illegal extraction of medicinal herbs and lumbering, lessen overgrazing pressure and support reforestation are required to be applied in these areas. These conservation measures will turn unsuitable habitats into suitable ones and also provide connecting corridors for black bear of Neelum particularly to the extended habitats of Gilgit Baltistan and Mansehra regions of Pakistan.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology


Vol. 55, Iss. 3, Pages 1003-1500


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