Unknown BEAR of Central Asia.
Scientific names: Selenarctos arboreus, given by Thomas Oldham in 1869; Ursus nepalensis, given by Daniel Taylor-Ide in 1983.
Variant name: Rukh balu (Nepali/Indo- Aryan, “tree bear”).
Physical description: Weight, about 150 pounds. Black fur. The premolars and first two molars are smaller than the Asiatic black bear’s.
Behavior: Primarily arboreal. Eats ripe corn at the end of the monsoon season. Constructs elaborate, complex tree nests.
Tracks: Has a claw on the side of its paw.
Habitat: Forested valleys.
Distribution: Makalu-Barun National Park in eastern Nepal.
Significant sighting: In 1983 and 1984, Daniel Taylor-Ide and Robert L. Fleming gathered reports from villagers in the Barun Valley that two different types of bear lived in the area: the Asiatic black bear and a smaller, more agile, arboreal variety. Eleven skulls were collected.
Present status: More comparisons with Asiatic black bear specimens are needed to establish a distinction.
Possible explanations: (1) A juvenile Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus). (2) A separate species or a subspecies of the Asiatic black bear.