Tibetan Blue Bear, Ursus arctos pruinosus
The Tibetan blue bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus), or Tibetan bear, can be found in the Tibetan plateau. It is a subspecies of the brown bear. Other common names for this bear include the Himalayan blue bear, Himalayan snow bear, Tibetan brown bear, and horse bear. This bear occurs very rarely in the wild, and was classified in 1854.
The Tibetan blue bear has been associated with the yeti. In 1960, an expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary returned with two pieces of fur, supposedly from a yeti, that were later identified as scraps of Tibetan blue bear fur. Due to limited information about these bears, it is hard to know if the association can be proven by location. It is unlikely that the bears inhabit the higher regions of the mountains where yetis are sighted; however, it is possible that they would travel through those areas in order to find food or a mate.
There is a question of whether the Gobi brown bear, which inhabits deserts, is a subspecies of the Tibetan blue bear. It is similar in its evolutionary changes, and is thought to be a remnant of a previously large population of Tibetan blue bears, or relict. The Gobi bear is also classified as its own subspecies due to its number of similarities to many Asian brown bears.
The conservation status of the Tibetan blue bear cannot be determined, as there is a lack of data about it. It is threatened by a traditional Chinese medial practice of using the bear’s bile and by humans imposing on their habitats. In America, the trade of Tibetan blue bear specimens was made illegal through the Endangered Species Act. It is also listed as a protected species in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES .
Image Caption: Tibetan Blue Bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus). Credit: Joseph Smit/Wikipedia