Jalpaiguri: The Asiatic black bear’s frequent straying incidents over the past 30 to 45 days have been triggered by the construction of roads through their habitat in the jungle swaths of southern Bhutan, according to foresters and wildlife experts.
On Wednesday evening, an adolescent bear was rescued from the bed of the Rydak River near Newlands beat below Kumargram Range in the Buxa Tiger Reserve in Alipurduar. After a health check, the animal was released Thursday morning in its natural habitat.
It was the 20th incident of wandering black bears in Dooars and Dajeeling since mid-November, a highly unusual phenomenon, according to senior foresters. A Bengal tiger was also recorded by camera trap in Buxa after nearly three decades, again possibly moved from its own territory.
“Now that we know that Bhutan is building roads in areas that are habitats for Asian black bears, their wandering is understandable. Even tigers can migrate to the Indian side for their safety. They are cross-border animals and there is therefore difficult to identify which animal belongs to which country,” said Shyama Prasad Pandey of SPOAR (Society for Protecting Ophiofauna & Animal Rights).
In the past, there have been very few cases of bears emerging from the jungle, with sporadic cases being reported in the Jayanti Valley and from Neora to Buxa in Kalimpong.
Soumya Dasgupta from the Wildlife Institute of India said: “In India, no census has ever been taken to count the bear population. Asiatic black bears are synanthropes, meaning their eating habits are similar to those found in this region. In winter, they usually come out to feed as their habitats become relatively dry. If Bhutan builds roads, they will definitely enter the lower regions, i.e. the region that witnesses the misguidance.

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