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Bear tree

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.

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