Wild Animals/The Speckled Bear

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Question
Hello!
We are two grade three students who are looking for information about the speckled bear. It is very hard to find.
Why are these bears endangered and what can we do to help?
Is the parental care the same as a brown bear? We hope that you can help.
Rylan and Taryn

Answer
Dear Taryn and Rylan

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

First of all, I think the animal is the 'spectacled bear' not the 'speckled bear' and this explains why you have found it hard to locate information. http://www.andeanbear.org/spectacled-bears.html says this is quite common. Doin't worry about this. I have mispronounced various animal names in my time and I'm not sure how to pronounce some scientific names.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacled_bear, http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/species/profiles/mammals/spectacled_bear/ and http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/spectacled-bear/say there are various reasons why the spectacled bear is threatened:
A. Local people hunt the bear as they think it will eat livestock, although this bear doesn't normally eat large quantities of meat.
B. The bear is hunted for its gall bladder, which can sell for a large amount of money as it is valued in traditional Chinese medicine and hunters can obtain a lot of money compared to their usual incomes. The bear is also hunted for its paws.
C. The main threat is habitat loss due to extensive logging in order to construct roads, pipelines, farmland and for mining and the cultivation of illegal crops. This has an adverse effect on this largely tree-dependent bear.
D. Farmers hunt the bears that feed on maize and other crops, due to the loss of their usual food sources.
E. A few people have a lot of property, so poor people often cut down forests to find somewhere to live.

The IUCN has recommended the following courses to conserve the bear: expanding the amount of suitable land for the bears and preventing development there; more research on the bear and the threats it faces; better management of conservation areas and educating people to learn about the bear and why it is worth conserving it.

The Andean Bear Organisation (http://www.andeanbear.org/spectacled-bears.html) is devoted to saving the spectacled bear (see http://www.andeanbear.org/bear-conservation.html), so I suggest you contact it for suggestions about how to save the bear.

I hope this helps.

2. The basic parental care is the same as the brown bear, except that the mother spectacles bear does not give birth while hibernating.

I hope this helps.

All the best

Jonathan

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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