Srinagar (AFP) Nov 18, 2009
Wildlife experts in Indian-controlled Kashmir have fitted black bears with satellite-tracking collars to study their behaviour and help conserve the endangered animals, officials said Wednesday.
"This is the first time in India that Himalayan black bears have been fitted with a GPS collar," wildlife warden Rashid Naqash told AFP, adding that there just 300 of the animals in the region.
These collars will help in studying the behaviour and habitat of the Himalayan black bear, he said, adding the "step will go a long way in conserving the endangered species."
A team of wildlife experts have put collars on three black bears -- a male, a female and a cub -- in the Dachigam national park on the outskirts of state's summer capital Srinagar.
Three more are likely to receive them soon, said Naqash, who is in charge of the park which sprawls over an area of 140 square kilometres (54 square miles).
Once the bears are caught, their age, weight and sex are recorded and the tracking system is fitted before they are released back into the wild.
A transmitter in the collar sends a signal to a satellite which relays the location of the animal to ground stations.
Naqash says the collars could also help prevent bear attacks in the region. Wild bears have killed more than two dozen people in the past four years and left 150 injured.
"We can always monitor their movements and sound an alert once they start moving towards the human habitations," said Naqash.
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