[Writer's Choice] Rare Black Bear Spotted in DMZ

Jay Yim, May 10, 2019, 11 a.m.

An endangered Asiatic black bear was seen on camera in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

Classed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, the photo of the bear was taken at the eastern area of the DMZ by an ecological study camera in October 2018, the South Korean Ministry of Environment said.

The DMZ, which is the border that divides North and South Korea, is one of the most heavily armed borders in the world. Recently, however, it has also become an unintended refuge for endangered species due to the restrictions in entering the area.

Soldiers at the DMZ claimed that they saw the bear in the past, but this was the first time a clear image of the bear had been taken.

The bear apears to be between eight and nine months old, and weighs between 25 and 35 kilograms (55 to 77 pounds). Because it is a cub (baby bear), the authorities claim that it is likely that there are at least three more bears in the area, including its parents.

Since 2014, 92 of these cameras have been put in place in the area which take pictures when they sense movement from a warm blooded animal.

South Korea's Ministry of Environment claimed the Asiatic Black bear as an endangered animal in 1998 and has been making efforts to increase population levels.

In a press release on Thursday, the ministry said it would expand the study of ecology and biodiversity of the DMZ area and come up with ways to preserve and manage the wildlife at the DMZ.

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