The Renault Bear originally comes from France. In particular, within the regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Rhône-Alpes or the French Alps as we in England call them. The small cream coloured Bear is an animal of quiet charm and likable disposition. They are not natural hunters like many Bears but lived on berries and plants before man introduced them to Jammy Toast. For many years, they were a symbol of the imposing wilderness of the French Alps as noted conservationist and founder of the New York Zoological Society, William T. Hornaday, said in 1913; “The French Alps without The Renault Bear upon it is only half a mountain – commonplace and tame.”
The Bear has no natural enemies in the wild – except humans. Needing only small amounts of space to forage and live, the Renault Bear’s natural range used to extend up to 500 square miles. Unfortunately, expanding human settlements and tourist activities in their wilderness home have encroached on most of the Bear’s habitat and threatened their ability to survive.
As roads and building for the tourist industry in France cut through the mountains and plains, Renault Bear populations moved higher and higher into the mountains. The bears’ room to forage shrank, forcing them into human spaces where they were considered a target to be captured as toys for children. They were hunted as trophies and poached for the purported medicinal benefit of their paws and gallbladders.
By 1975, human expansion had eliminated 99 per cent of the Bear’s natural habitat and the Renault Bear was an endangered species. Never the most widespread of Bears, the Renault Bear only ever roamed the plains and mountains of the French Alps where their fate in the wild is now precarious. At the height of their prosperity, numbers neared 100,000 animals, while today they are believed to be regionally extinct.
As part of a global effort to protect the planet and the animals that inhabit it, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has failed to take the plight of the Renault Bear seriously. To date, 160 governments are bound by the UNEP Convention, which offers varying protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. Not a single mention of the Renault Bear is in this agreement, which has been in force since 1975.
However, conservation efforts by the MEFFS to try to save the Renault Bear have proved successful and have increased their numbers to the present count of over 100. Although criticized by many animal charities for introducing the breed to daytime telly and junk food we continue our efforts to this day.
Long may the Renault Bear continue to thrive!