The Gobi bear, Ursusarctosgobiensis (known in Mongolian as the mazaalai/Мазаалай), is a subspecies of the brown bear, Ursusarctos, that is found in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. It is listed as critically endangered by Mongolian Redbook of Endangered Species and by the Zoological Society of London using IUCN standards. The UN backed Convention of Migratory Species selected Gobi bear for protection in 2017.The population included only around 30 adults in 2009 and is separated by enough distance from other brown bear populations to achieve reproductive isolation.

Break camp about 9.30 a.m. and head for the Atis Mountains. We cross a large open plain and then enter a steep-sided, black, shale-strewn valley. Just before we entered the valley we discovered the footprints of the extremely rare Gobi Bear (ursusgobiensis) [there are presumed to be approximately only thirty-two in the world and there is continuing debate among scientists over whether they are a true species or a sub-species].

Behaviour and ecology

Gobi bears mainly eat roots, berries, and other plants, sometimes rodents; there is no evidence that they prey on large mammals. Small compared to other brown bear subspecies, adult males weigh about 96.0–138.0 kg (211.6–304.2 lb) and females about 51.0–78.0 kg (112.4–172.0 lb).

Genetic Diversity

Gobi Bears have very little genetic diversity, and is among the lowest ever observed in any species of Brown bear. Levels of genetic diversity similar to the Gobi Bear have only been reported in a small population of Brown bears in the Pyrenees Mountains on the border of Spain and France.

Research

Based on morphology, the Gobi brown bear has sometimes historically been classified as being of the same subspecies as the Tibetan blue bear. However, recent phylogenetic analysis has shown the Gobi bear to instead represent a relict population of the Himalayan brown bear.There are only 22 Gobi bears left in the wild