The mauling of a man by a bear in Zhaotong (昭通) highlights a complicated situation in which conservation efforts are proving successful but also leading to more human-bear encounters.
A 44 year-old man from Daguan County (大关县) was attacked by an adult Asian black bear while herding cattle on May 24. During the assault, the man was knocked unconscious. When he awoke he walked for 30 minutes back to his village despite multiple broken bones and severe facial lacerations, Life newspaper is reporting.
The attack is the third of its kind in Daguan County this year. Villagers interviewed by Life said encounters with bears have spiked over the past 12 months. Increased interaction between bears and people in the area have been attributed to tougher anti-poaching laws which have resulted in rising bear populations.
Violent encounters with bears are relatively uncommon across the globe but increase when the animals are forced out of their natural environment and enter areas populated by people in search of food. Because of habitat loss, bear numbers have generally been on the decline in China since population records began being taken in the 1950s.
That trend appears to have reversed itself — at least in a few corners of Yunnan. A similar situation occurred in 2007 following the Three Parallel Rivers Protected Areas in the province's northwest receiving UNESCO status.
Asian black bears, also called moon bears, live in conifer forests in both northeast and southwest China. The animals can weigh up to 150 kilograms and be one meter tall at the shoulder. They are highly valued by poachers for their gall bladder bile, which is often prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and as an aid to liver function.
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