Ursus arctos

Atlas Bear
(Ursus arctos crowtheri (Schinz))

syn. Ursus arctos faidherbi (Bourguignat), Ursus crowtheri (Schinz), Ursus faidherbi (Bourguignat)


Algeria: Djurdjura Mountains
: Atlas Mountains

local name: -

size: ca. 1,5 m (length)

extinction date: last recorded in 1844 (?)

The Atlas Bear is deemed to be the only recent (contemporary) bear native to the African continent and is sometimes regarded as a subspecies of the brown bear, sometimes as a distinct species.

It was a smaller form, strictly speaking it was the smallest of the subspecies of the brown bear.

Bear bones are already known from pleistocene depositions of North Africa, they were described as Ursus arctos faidherbi (Bourguignat) resp. Ursus faidherbi (Bourguignat). In several caves in the Algerian Djurdjura Mountains, in addition, relatively fresh bones were found, which definitely date back to historical times.

It is a well known fact, that during the time of the Roman Empire, various wild animals, among them also brown bears, were captured for exhibition fights, it is quite certain, that among them also some Atlas Bears may have been.

In the year 1830 (at a time, when the subspecies was yet not scientifically described) the Zoo of Marseille / France exhibited a living Atlas Bear, which it obtained from the then Moroccan Sultan, Mawlay 'Abd al-Rahman, as a present.

The exact extinction date is still absolutely uncertain, whereas over-hunting is quite possibly one of the major reasons for it.