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Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species

By The Siberian Times reporter
26 October 2020

This spike of bear cannibalism is reported at the South-Kamchatka nature reserve in Kamchatka.

Female brown bears fight for fish at the Kuliskoye Lake, Kamchatka. Picture: Liana Varavskaya

The vast Kurilskoye crater lake in the south of the Kamchatka Peninsula contains the largest sockeye salmon stocks in Asia. 

The lake is part of the South-Kamchatsky nature reserve, home to at least 800 brown bears, the largest protected population in Eurasia. 

Every autumn bears gather on its banks, waiting for salmon to leave the depths of the lake and to enter shallow waters on the way to the spawning grounds. 

Up to 200 predators can be seen fishing at the same time, with male bears and mothers with cubs staying within a short distance from each other. This site attracts hundreds of tourists from around the world who can enter the protected area on a limited number of supervised tours. 

It is also under the constant monitoring of the reserve’s inspectors as it gives them an opportunity to observe the bears in their natural habitat as they fish, argue, fight and eventually play with each other after days of successful fishing when the animals are so full that they only take caviar, leaving the salmon rot on the banks. 

Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species
Brown bears at the Kuliskoye Lake, Kamchatka. Pictures: Liana Varavskaya


This year’s reports paint a very different picture as adult bear hunt cubs after weeks struggling to fish successfully. 

A video filmed and shared four days ago by inspector Liana Varavskaya shows an adult brown bear standing by a killed bear cub. 

‘Yet another case of cannibalism on the Kurilskoye lake. A cannibal bear is worried for its prey as it sees humans. 

'This kind of footage can only be filmed from a boat. It is categorically forbidden to get near the bear by its prey, the attack will follow imminently’, she wrote in the comment to the footage.

A male brown bear filmed by a body of a brown bear cub at the Kurilskoye Lake, Kamchatka. Video: Liana Varavskaya

The tension within the group has been growing for several years, said Liana who has been reporting on the brown bear population for years, and knows many single animals and bear families ‘by faces’.

‘Adult males are aggressive towards each other, the only thing you can expect from them is a fight. Cubs were eaten by the males. Cannibalism is growing’, she wrote. 

The spike of cannibalism in brown bears is currently linked to the lower number of sockeye salmon getting to the lake from the Sea of Okhotsk.

It might also be caused by a combination of reasons like the higher concentration of bears around the lake, the poorer harvest of cedar pine cones and the smaller number of fish, said Pyotr Shpilenok, director of the Kronotsky state nature biosphere reserve, the umbrella organisation that includes the South-Kamchatsky nature reserve. 

Brown bears by the Kurilskoye lake at the Kamchatka peninsula. Pictures and video: Liana Varavskaya

Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Brown bear cubs fall victim to adult males in Eurasia's largest protected population of the species


Comments (1)

Amazing animals.During the summer here.If a bear finds a dead bear.They will consume it.
James, Alaska
28/10/2020 03:53
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