The Syrian Brown Bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) is a subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos), and this rare subspecies is found in the Middle East and the Caucasus. In contrast to most brown bears, their fur is very light, and their body size is also smaller than most of the other subspecies of brown bear. It is mostly found in mountain areas, where it will even use hollow trees during hibernation, which is not really common for other species of the brown bear.
A Syrian Brown Bear, here in a zoo. Image by unknown/anonymous user at Wikimedia, posted with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
For the last 60 years, the Syrian brown bear has been thought to be extinct in Lebanon, but recently a group of hikers managed to find a mother with a cub in Bekaa Valley. Conservation biologists had determined this subspecies to be extinct in this area, so this is really exciting news for everyone that is interested in the conservation of large predator species! Like most other bear species, the Syrian brown bear has had a lot of problems with poaching, habitat loss and other human-related problems that had lead to their population decline in the last century.
The hikers managed to get a video of the bear with the cub, so there is no doubt that the bear is for sure a Syrian brown bear.
I am personally really exited about the news, and refinding species or subspecies that were thought to be extinct in an area is really something that makes me happy. It is of course important to remember that the whole subspecies was not extinct, but the last known observation of the Syrian Brown bear was over 500km away, in Turkey. Since the female has a cub, there must obviously be at least one more Syrian brown bear in the area, but hopefully it turns out to be even more than the three of them.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading my post. I usually don't cover news, but I find conservation news to be really exciting, and I've written a few depressing posts about species going extinct in the past, so I think it is important to also celebrate the conservation victories we have! Hopefully this discovery will lead to conservation efforts, and maybe one day we will see a healthy population of Syrian brown beats in Lebanon again.
I don't really have any good sources to show you for this post, but most major news websites have published articles about this discovery. You can also see the video yourself at The Independent article. If you are interested in reading a bit more about the Syrian Brown Bear subspecies, its Wikipedia entry is a good start.