Black bear conservation in Japan
Black bear conservation in Japan
Black bear conservation in Japan

Useful information

In 1998, a cooperation between a bear protection association and the Karuizawa municipal authorities was established to solve the territorial conflict between bears and the local population. The amount of food resources for the bears in the forest was increased and at the same time, sealed garbage cans were distributed by the city to keep the bears away. Programs (such as this Animal Health Internship) to raise awareness among the population and tourists have also been launched.

With this in mind, this bear protection program has been set up. It allows two things – the first is to protect the bears by preventing them from foraging near the city. The second is to raise awareness and educate the population about the presence of bears.

Like all of our animal internship programs, the project in Japan allows you to gain universty credits while making a positive and sustainable impact on the local community.

Biology students
Zoology students
Ecology students
Veterinary students




English Intermediate


Description of the program

Karuizawa is a small town located in Joshinnetsu National Park, a mountain resort in Japan. When it is hot in the summer in Tokyo, many people come to Karuizawa to enjoy the cooling temperatures of the mountains.

The forests around Karuizawa are full of biodiversity. The area is known for its Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus), wild boars, Japanese macaques (Snow Monkies) and flying squirrels. Many visitors also come to the national park to observe birds such as copper pheasants and green woodpeckers.

Animal health internship

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Over the past few decades, many programs have been created, and it is with this in mind that the animal health course was set up. Bears living in the vicinity of the city have been fitted with radio collars to track their movements. If a bear gets too close to the city, members of the bear protection organisation's team will try to stop it with the help of Karelian bear dogs. These dogs are highly skilled and specially trained to locate and repel bears in the forest. The dogs also protect the team members because they can detect the presence of bears much earlier than humans.

About 20 bears are currently marked with battery-operated radio transmitters. One of the tasks of the trainees is to assist the professionals in replacing the radio transmitters, which should be done every 2 to 4 years. For this purpose, bears are captured in cages and anesthetised in order to allow the replacement of radio collars. At the same time, veterinary medical examinations, such as checking for the presence of parasites, are carried out on the anesthetised bears.

During the Animal Health Internship, you will also be part of the canine team, which responds when a bear approaches the city.

As one of only three organisations in the world, the Karuizawa Project also breeds and trains Karelian bear dogs. You can help the trainer, play with the dogs and walk them in the forest. Among other tasks related to bear conservation: - release of bears caught in poachers' traps and provision of veterinary care, laboratory analysis of blood, hair and teeth, as well as GPS data capture of bear movements and participation in bear science research (e.g., identification of winter den locations, monitoring bear health).

In addition to the work with bears, other animal sightings in the forests around Karuizawa are regularly recorded. There are photographic traps in the woods, whose data must be processed by the local authorities. Currently, copper pheasants are being researched using GPS and radio telemetry. Invasive plant and animal species that may endanger the ecosystem must be removed regularly. You will be involved in all these activities during this animal health internship.


Host organization

The on-site organisation provides opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and global learning.
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Our goal is to provide a high quality service to our participants, but one that also includes a sustainable benefit for the countries and regions in which we are active, especially developing countries.

Our strength: we are not just an intermediary, we are on the ground with our own teams. We are in permanent contact with our participants, organisations and all other local partners, which allows us to have perfect oversight of the actions carried out on the projects.

Animal science internships abroad

Strong points

Put knowledge into practice
Be monitored and trained on a daily basis
Participate in the conservation of animals
Gain international work experience

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