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Many people are aware of the dwindling numbers that the polar bear faces today. Several different types of endangered bears, however, are currently in need of protection. Of the world's eight main species of bear, six face the threat of extinction. Sun bears, Asiatic black bears, giant pandas, and other bears listed as threatened species.
South America and Asia are home to the bears needing the most animal protection. The most threatened bear species on Earth is the giant panda. Less than 2,000 of the endangered bears remain alive in the wild. Though a ban on logging, the development of over 50 panda reserves, and other programs have been established, pandas are still continually threatened by habitat destruction.
The round, black Asiatic black bear, its subspecies, the Baluchistan Bear, in particular, is listed as another vulnerable species. No estimate of its population is available, though its numbers have declined by up to 50 percent during the past three decades. In addition to the habitat loss the bear faces, hunting is a major culprit to the black bear's demise. The Asiatic black bear's bile is considered useful in some Asian folk remedies, and is highly sought after.
Known as the world's smallest bear species, the sun bear is considered a vulnerable animal, facing a high risk of extinction. The species has declined by one percent every year for the last 30 years. The four to five foot (120 to 150 centimeter) long endangered bears live in Southeast Asian tropical forests, where hunting and habitat loss are causing their population shrinkage.
Endangered bears also live in South America. Spectacled, or Andean, bears can be found throughout Panama and Argentina. Considered a short-faced bear, the Andean bear is listed as a vulnerable species needing protection. The last species of bear in South America, it faces a variety of threats from humans. These include oil exploration, poaching, mining development, and agricultural business ventures.
India is home to the nocturnal black and white sloth bear. The bear, which can also be found in Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, is classified as vulnerable. Dwindling sloth bear numbers are attributed to habitat loss and poaching. The poaching of these endangered bears can be especially disturbing, as its body parts are considered a commodity in commercial trade. Some are also captured alive, and made to perform tricks for money.
Polar bears are the world's largest land carnivores. Less than 25,000 of the vulnerable bears are left in the wild. Loss of this species is largely due to climate change. As the Arctic sea ice melts, the bear's habitat and hunting grounds rapidly diminish. Other factors that threaten the polar bear include oil development, pollution, and tourism.