Iranian Bears

خرس های ایران

خرس قهوه ای در کوههای البرز - 12/1999 - Photo: (C) Iran-zoo

Iran has two kinds of bears. The first one is the Asian Black Bear, (also known as the Himalayan Black Bear), which belongs to the ( S. t. gedrosianus) and the other is Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos).
It is almost nothing is known about the distribution of bears in Iran. Though bear is a protected animal by law in Iran and of no value to local people as they do not eat its meat because it is "Haram" (forbidden to eat for Muslims) his number dropped remarkably as the result of the overhunting.

Brown Bear (Ursus Arctos)

It lives in forested areas of highest densities in remote parts of the Alborz and Zagros mountains.

Berries, grasses, nuts, wild cherries, honey, fish, animal carcasses and insects.
Occasionally moose, deer, elk, and caribou are killed and eaten. They eat about anything and consume as much as 90 pounds of food per day.

Length, 1.24 to 2.5 meters; weight 45.3 to 816 kg. Adult brown bears may weigh more than 1,000 times their birth weight.


Brown bears are found in many areas, but no good estimation is available on their number. However, since they eat almost anything and are highly adjustable, they seem still to live in considerable number in West, Lorestan (in Zagros mountains), Central and northern Alborz mountain range (Caspian forest; about 900 km long and 50-100 km wide), Arazbaran (part of Azarbaijan) and Khorasan province.

Bears have been hunted in Iran for Thousands years.

The situation in the Azarbaijan and in Zagros mountains seems less promising than the Alborz area, mainly due to deforestation and heavy human pressure. Present status in the country unknown but according to the offecial report of Iranian Department Of the Environment in Mazandaran (north of Iran) during one census from 12/1993-2/1994 a nomber of 147 brown bears were observed and been recognized in the forests of Mazandaran. There are not other statices from the early years for the comparison status of bears in this area. Other living areas:
Mazandaran ---------(Last report in: 9.1996)
Shiraz-Dashteh Ajan- (Last report in: 6.1997)
Ghazvin--------------(Last report in: ?)

Brown bears give birth to two to four cubs usually in January, February, or March. Cubs weight slightly less than one pound at birth, but they gain weight quickly because bear milk is very high in fat content.

خرس قهوه ای کشته شده توسط شکارچی

Photo (c):

خرس اهلی شده در باغ وحش بابلسر

Photo (c):

خرس قهوه ای در باغ وحش تهران در سال 1999

Photo: (c) Iranzoo

Stuffed female Brown Bear with her cub in Zanja Nature Museum-1999.Photo (c) Iranzoo

Brown Bears in Alborz Mountain. 12/1999-photo: (c) Iranzoo

Brown Bears in Arak National Park (Centeal of Iran)

Stuffed Brown Bear in Tehran Nature Museum-2000.Photo (c) Iranzoo

Stuffed Brown Bear in Tehran Nature Museum-2000.Photo (c) Iranzoo


Asian Black Bear (Ursus Selenarctos thibetanus gedrosianus)

The Black Bear also known as Baluchistan Bear or it is called by the local people of Sistan & Baluchestan of Iran as "Mam".

It is seen as having long black or dark brown hair. Shoulders and the outer parts of limbs seem darker. It has white on the chest in the shape of a V and large, tufted ears.
In bear-literature nothing can be found about this occurrence. The Asiatic black bear was thought to have become extinct in southeastern Iran in the late 60-ies, but was "re-discovered" in 1973. It is still in danger to become extinct as a result of overhunting.

Adult bears attain a head and shoulder height of 140 cm -195 cm, tail length varies between 7-10 cm and weigh about 90-180 kg.

Black Bears feed on green plants, fruits, berries, seeds, termites, bees and other insects, also honey and small vertebrates like birds and rodents. Black Bears make fewer attacks on other larger animals than Brown Bears and rarely attack humans.

They are seen mainly in forest habitats of the South of Kerman, Baluchestan and Hormozgan. They are seen mainly in the mountainous regions of Zebli; Ghassar-Ghand and Beerak Mountain ranges in Baluchestan; Beshaghard Mountains in Hormozghan; and Jebal Barz forest, Delfard, Bahr Asseman and Kehnooj in the South of Kerman.

Mating takes place at the end of spring and early summer and it is likely that between one to three cubs are born in winter.

The black bear lives generaly in remaining forested areas and near permanent water supply. It have been seen to climb trees more than other species, and usually travel several kilometers each night to feed and return early in the morning the following day. For years cubs were killed regularly by farmers when they were seen to climb date palms.

News about bears in Iran:
  • در سال 1991 یک خرس وحشی در ناحیه ورسک به حمله به یک گله گوسفند 9 راس از آنها را تلف کرد.

  • 2 ژانویه 1994 - یک پیرمرد روستائی در نزاع با یک خرس وحشی کشته شد.




  • Acording to Valery Kuznetsov (Chynar Ecological Group) at the beginning of May 1996, one bear crossed the border from Iran to Turkmenestan. It seems that the animal was walked along the Atrek River Valley from the mountain forests of the eastern part of the Alborz Mountain Range which has a permanent population of bears. There were two local witnesses who were able to describe the large size and coat color of this bear, the bear's fate remains unknown. In the fall of 1980 in the mountains bordering Iran south of the Chandyr River (the Guen Valley) a mother and cub bear were killed by hunters.
  • July 11, 1998 - A 4-year-old girl was killed as a bear attacked her at Hormozgan zoo, when she was passing by the cage of the bear at noon. The bear suddenly attacked the girl through the food slot and pulled her inside and tore her apart the eyes of onlookers. The zoo guards came and punched the bear to resque the girl, but all efforts were in
    vain. Managing director of bandar abbas fire fighting squad said that resque workers were rushed to the spot at once to help the girl. they managed to pull the battered body of the girl out of the cage by using water hose.



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