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Are There Bears in Africa or Not? (African Bears)

There are no bears living in Africa. The last known bear native to Africa died in 1870 and was known as the Atlas bear. Bears are found in many other places in the world, but not in Africa.

Africa is known for its wildlife, most commonly for the “Big 5” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and African buffalo), but what about bears?

Once upon a time, bears roamed the African continent. But not anymore. Why is that?

There have been many attempts to reintroduce African bears into Africa but these attempts always fail because of habitat degradation and poaching pressure on wild populations outside Africa.

Are There Bears in Africa?

No, there are no bears in Africa[1]. The last bears living in Africa were the Atlas bears. However, they are extinct now. There have been no sightings of Atlas bears in Africa for over 100 years.

Bears used to live all across Africa, but due to hunting and loss of habitat, they are nowhere to be found nowadays.

The closest relative to the African bear is the spectacled bear which lives in South America.

Despite there being no native bears living in Africa anymore, some people still claim to have seen them, but no solid proof has been presented.

no bear in africa

Are There Bears in South Africa?

No, there are no bears in South Africa. Bears used to live in Africa, but they are now extinct.

Bears can be found in North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Russia. However, there are no bears living in Africa today.

There were several other types of bears that lived in Africa at one time, including brown bears and giant pandas. The only native bear to Africa was the Atlas bear, but the last sighting of one of these bears was in 1870.

Some bears may still exist in isolated areas of Africa, but this has yet to be confirmed. So far, there have been no sightings or evidence of any living bears on the continent.

Are There Bears in Congo as in the Jungle Book?

The “Jungle Book” is a collection of stories made popular through the movie. Many people have seen it, and many loved it, but there are some essential flaws, such as the fact that it features a bear.

The fact that the Jungle Book is set in Africa is incorrect, and not a fact at all. The book, and movie, take place in India.

There are bears in India. They live in forested areas, thriving off of plants and animals.

black bear in asia

Why Are There No African Bears?

There are several reasons, and theories, to why there are no African bears. These include competition, human development, and poaching.

There are a few reasons why there are no African bears today. 

For one, African bears need lots of space to roam around in order to find food. But over the years, humans have been encroaching on their territory and building settlements and farms that take up this land. As a result, the bears have been forced into smaller and smaller areas, making it difficult for them to survive.

Next is competition between animals. African bears were believed to be herbivores and scavengers. As humans, and other animals, adapted, the bears fell behind. They weren’t as good at finding food and eventually died out.

Lastly, we have poaching. Humans have hunted wild animals for centuries, and as a result, some species have been hunted to extinction.

man hunting in the forest

Were There Ever Any Bears in Africa?

Yes, there were bears in Africa at one point. Africa is well known for its many diverse and unique animals, including bears many years ago.

Bears have been in Africa since prehistoric times, but they eventually died out due to a number of factors such as habitat loss and hunting.

The first recorded sighting of a bear in Africa was by an ancient Greek historian named Herodotus who wrote about them living in what is now Libya over two thousand years ago.

Over the centuries, bears spread throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of dense rainforests and deserts.

The last living native bear in Africa was the Atlas bear.

The Atlas Bear (Extinct)

The Atlas bear was the only native African bear, which is now extinct[2]. The last sighting of one was in 1870.[3]

Bears are not found in Africa – they used to be, but that’s no longer the case. All species of bears that lived in Africa are extinct today.

The Atlas bear was named so because it was first discovered near Mount Atlas in northwestern Africa. It is thought that this species may have evolved from brown bears that migrated into North Africa around 100,000 years ago.

Atlas Mountains
Atlas Mountains

Despite being related to other brown bears, the Atlas bear looked very different. They were much smaller – weighing only around 220 pounds (100 kg). They also had a shorter muzzle and larger ears than other brown bears. 

The Atlas bear was an herbivore, eating mostly fruits, roots, and tubers.

Can a Bear Survive in Africa?

Yes, bears could live in the Atlas mountains, as they once did. However, it’s very unlikely that a bear would be able to survive in Africa today, as they aren’t adapted to the environment.

There were once native bears in Africa. These were adapted to the African conditions, and could possibly live there again. However, bears that have adapted to other conditions may not be able to live there.

Some of the reasons why it’s difficult to introduce bears to Africa include:

  • The climate
  • Competition
  • Poaching

For one, the climate is much hotter and drier than it is in other parts of the world where bears live.

Africa also has a lot of dangerous animals that could kill a bear, such as lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. Bears would also have to compete with African animals for food, which would be difficult since bears are herbivores.

Lastly, poaching. Wild animals in Africa are continuously being hunted by poachers who sell their parts, such as the tusks of elephants or heads of lions.

bear display

Where Do Bears Live?

Bears live in many places, including:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Europe

As stated, bears used to live in Africa. The Atlas bear was distributed throughout the continent, from Morocco to Libya.

Nowadays, you’ll typically find bears in forested areas, as they typically feed on plants, berries, insects, and fish.

Depending on the species of bear, and their location, their habit does change though. An example is a Polar bear which primarily eats meat.

Related: Are There Bears in Australia?

Bear Species

Species Distribution
American black bear The American black bear is the smallest of the three North American bears. They are found in forested areas across most of the continental United States and in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Asiatic black bear The Asiatic black bear is the smallest of the eight bear species and inhabits forests from Southeast Asia to the Himalayas.
Brown bear (Grizzly) The brown bear is found across much of northern Eurasia and North America. Brown bears live near the coast, while grizzlies live inland.
Giant panda bear The giant panda bear is native to China. It’s a solitary animal and spends most of its waking hours foraging for food.
Polar bear The polar bear is found in the Arctic Circle and adjacent landmasses.
Spectacled bear/Andean bear The spectacled bear or Andean bear The last remaining short-faced bear. It’s the only species of bear native to the South Americas.
Sloth bear The sloth bear is the only species of bear found in Asia that isn’t a black bear.
Sun bear The sun bear is the smallest species of bear and is confined to Southeast Asia.

Conclusion

Bears used to live in Africa, but now they only inhabit parts of Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. The Atlas bear was the last native bear to Africa but went extinct in 1870.

These large mammals can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, mountains, and swamps. While their natural habitat is shrinking due to deforestation and other human activities, bears have proven adaptable creatures that can live in close proximity to humans if necessary.

Related: Are There Bears in England?

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.