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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Animal rescue coalition saves eight dancing bears in Nepal

Kundan being surrendered by his Kalandar ownerAn international coalition of animal rescue groups which historically ended the practice of dancing bears in India last year has announced the rescue of a further eight bears from Nepal. The bears are now safe in a temporary holding centre in India.

Indian NGO Wildlife SOS, whose team of vets, keepers and animal rescuers led the campaign to rescue all the dancing bears in India, is now caring for the bears while their handlers are being dealt with by the authorities.

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said: "The porous borders between Nepal and India make it an attractive option for wildlife poachers, traders, and indeed anyone seeking to profit from the exploitation of endangered species to smuggle wild animals and contraband across and conceal themselves in remote areas. Wildlife SOS and our partners are determined to work with the governments of both countries and likeminded NGOs to bring an end to this practice once and for all.

Krishna, one of the dancing bears rescued in Nepal"In one particular case we worked in collaboration with a local NGO in Nepal called Roots and Shoots who helped in tracking down and rescuing one of the dancing bears. This bear is being handed over to the Indian Government and Wildlife SOS by the Nepal authorities to be housed in the Agra Bear Sanctuary, run in collaboration between the Uttar Pradesh Forest Dept and Wildlife SOS India.

Geeta Seshamani of Wildlife SOS said "Thanks to our informer network and our good working relationship with those responsible for animal protection and conservation in both India and Nepal, the Kalandar tribals and their dancing bears were successfully tracked down and rescued. The eight bears will eventually be moved to our sanctuary in Agra which cares for several hundred rescued bears and gives them the freedom and the dignity to live life as nature intended. Collaboration between countries is really helping here. Wildlife SOS is also focusing on efforts to curb poaching of cubs from the wild, as well as conservation of sloth bear habitat. Conservation of bears in the wild is our ultimate objective.

Kuki being surrendered by her Kalandar owner"The dancing bear rescue project in India first began in 2002 and is supported by several key groups who are committed to providing life-time care for the hundreds of bears that have already been rescued: Wildlife SOS, Free the Bears Fund Australia, International Animal Rescue in the UK and US and One Voice France. The project reached a historic climax in December last year with the rescue of Raju, believed to be the last dancing bear on the streets of India."

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: "This latest rescue confirms what we said at the end of last year: that in due course we were likely to find other bears in need of our help that had slipped through the net for one reason or another. Now we have found eight bears whose handlers tried to outwit the law by moving out of India into Nepal. So this wasn't the first time we discovered bears still awaiting rescue – and sadly we know it won't be the last.

Mary Hutton on FTB Australia said "Rest assured though that, wherever and whenever we hear of dancing bears in India kept illegally for commercial gain, we will track them down with the help of our Indian partners and the government authorities and bring in effective intervention including rehabilitation of the Kalandar gypsies to create alternative livelihoods and to ensure this practice is discontinued."