Sir Peter Scott Fund project: Tibetan Brown Bear, Chang Tang
- To reduce the conflict and its impacts on herders and bears
- To improve data collection
- To demonstrate effective solutions to address the conflict and conserve the species
One of the least known of the world’s sub-species of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), the Tibetan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus), has over the past few decades declined drastically in numbers on the desolate steppe grasslands of Tibet’s Chang Tang region.
Until fairly recently the bears survived largely on a diet of Black-lipped Pika (Ochotona curzoniae), a type of small rodent. However, there have now been an alarming number of recorded incidents of bears coming into contact with nomadic livestock herders. This has lead to attacks on herds, raids on homes and food stores and even attacks on the herders themselves.
The project seeks to reduce this human-bear conflict by initiating a pilot scheme at a community severely afflicted by brown bear attacks in South-central Chang Tang.
The pilot will trial various mitigation methods with the herders before implementing the successful measures in other affected areas in central Tibet.
To achieve its objectives the project aims to train at least 50 herders and 20 rangers in methods to reduce conflict. It will also build solar-powered electric fencing to protect the herds in one village and install bear-proof food storage containers and establish a compensation fund in the region.
The field aspects of this project were due to commence in May and June 2008, however troubles surrounding the journey of the Olympic torch through Tibet have temporarily postponed activities.
(September 2009) Two training workshops were organized in cooperation with local country level forestry bureaus and were warmly welcomed by both local herders and conservation workers. They were trained in the following:
• Data collection
• Skills to prevent conflict and ensure personal safety when confronted with a bear
• General wildlife conservation knowledge.
Forty households received bear-proof food storage containers, and twenty households received fences and corrals.
The compensation fund was not established due to a new national policy that will compensate local herders so the project was adjusted to focus on the above-mentioned results. The training of dogs to repel bears was also abandoned due to local herders advising that this would be ineffective and safeguarding training and fences was preferred by the local herders.