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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

28.02.2012

Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus)


Scientific classification:

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Ursus

Species: U. arctos

Subspecies: Ursus arctos syriacus

 

Description

Syrian brown bear fur color is usually very light brown and straw colored.  The fur in the winter is longer with a gray-brown base and is often a different shade then the rest of the body, seen in some individuals as a dark stripe running across the back. Individuals from the middle and Western Caucasus, whose ranges overlap those of Eurasian brown bears, are darker in color, and larger in size, leading some naturalists to propose that they are in fact hybrid populations of Eurasian and Syrian brown bears. It is thought that these mixed bears originated during the Holocene when Syrian bears migrated Northward and interbred with the larger Northern bears. These populations have skulls measuring 37–40 cm in length, and their fur color is reddish brown with no mixture of black and brown tones.


Habitat and Range

Generally found in the mountainous areas throughout its home range, the Syrian Brown Bears seem to den and hibernate in caves and tree hollows of the birch forests, which are found at higher elevations than pine and other trees. Outside of hibernation these bears tend to forage for food in grasslands, meadows, forests and have been known to enter mountain villages to feed on grains and nuts

Behavior 

The brown bear is primarily solitary animals, although they may gather in large numbers at major food sources and form social hierarchies based on age and size.  They may be active at any time, but primarily forage in the morning and at dusk, and rest during the day.

In the summer, the brown bear may put on substantial reserves of fat (up to 180 kilograms or 400 pounds of fat in larger populations), on which it relies to make it through winter, when it becomes very lethargic. Although they are not full hibernators, and can be woken easily, both sexes like to den in a protected spot such as a cave, crevice, or hollow log during the winter months.

Diet 

The species primarily feeds on vegetable matter, including roots and berries, as well as fungi. Fish are a primary source of meat, and it will also kill small mammals on land. Larger mammals, such as deer, are taken only occasionally. Adult brown bears can match wolf packs and large felines, often driving them off their kills. As a seed disperser and predator, it plays an important role in the ecosystem.

Reproduction 

The mating season takes place from late May through early July. Being serially monogamous, brown bears will remain with the same mate from several days to a couple of weeks. Females are become capable of reproduction between the age of 5 and 7 years, while males will usually not mate until a few years later when they are large and strong enough to successfully compete with other males for mating rights. Like other brown bear species, the males of this group will challenge each other for the right to mate. Once mated, the female will bear a litter of cubs (average litter number is between one and four) which she will care for until they grow large enough to strike out on their own. The mother also assumes the duties of training them to hunt, forage and scavenge.

Human Induced Threats

The Syrian brown bear population is declining due to habitat loss, and poaching. They are a popular target for big game hunters in Armenia and the entire Caucasus. In addition, their fur is a valuable commodity that is sold for large sums of money to mount as a trophy in sport hunting.  Decline in prey for the bears is also a contributing factor for the decline of bears in Armenia and neighboring countries. 

Forestry, highway construction, residential developments and other human activities cause a serious threat to bears by increasing the isolation of populations of bears into small pockets.   This is sometimes called the downgrading of existing wild brown bear habitat and over time will decrease the ability of wild areas to support the current brown bear population in the wild.  For these reasons, the Syrian brown bear is in the Red Data Book of Armenia.

The Syrian Brown Bear in history and culture

Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur. To this day, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. 

Syrian Brown Bears are the bears of the Scripture. In the Bible, King David recalls that as a boy, he protected his father’s flock of sheep from marauding bears. It also is said in the biblical story of Elisha that two female Syrian Brown Bear were sent by God to maul pagan youths that had insulted Elisha.

Various written accounts and artifacts indicate that Syrian bears once ranged throughout the Middle East, as far south as the Sinai Peninsula. The range of the Syrian Brown Bears shrank as they since antiquity were killed as pests and threats to human safety, and their habitat was reduced through cutting of trees and subsequent desertification. Syrian bears were also often taken to Europe for zoos or street shows because of their attractive golden coat.

Short facts

The Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus), is the smallest of the many subspecies of brown bears and is native to Eurasia. Today, the Syrian Brown Bear still ranges from Turkey to Iran, including the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, but is generally believed to be extinct in its namesake country of Syria, as well as neighboring Lebanon. High woodlands offer these animals ready access to caves to den and ample hunting grounds. While prey can be scarce in their habitat, Syrian brown bears have learned to become foragers and scavengers.

In general, brown bears as a group are among the largest type of bears, second only to polar bears.  These light gray-brown bears can weigh as little as three hundred and fifty pounds fully grown.  Various larger subspecies include the Eurasian brown bear, Grizzly bear, Kodiak bear, Alaskan brown bear, Russian brown bear, Asiatic brown bear, and the Himalayan snow bear. The global distribution of brown bears can be found in North America, Europe, and northern Asia, with the largest populations in Russia.

 



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