Coalition that stamped out barbaric practice of dancing bears in India rescues four more bears as they are smuggled over the border from Nepal.
An Indian wildlife charity with partners in the UK and Australia has taken part in a successful operation to rescue four sloth bears from poachers. Wildlife SOS from Delhi provided intelligence to the Police and Forest Department which led to a night-long operation and ended with six poachers under arrest and their bears confiscated.
In 2009 a coalition of Wildlife SOS, International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears made history when they ended the centuries-old practice of dancing bears in India. The coalition owed its success to a holistic approach which involved rescuing and rehoming the bears and rehabilitating their ‘Kalandar’ handlers so that they were able to find alternative employment and continue to provide for their families.
It was suspected at the time that a small number of Kalandars had slipped through the net and smuggled their bears over the border into Nepal. Although the dancing bear trade is illegal in Nepal, enforcement of the law is far more lax than in India and the porous borders between the two countries are commonly exploited by smugglers of wildlife and contraband.
Since then, the coalition has carried out several successful undercover operations with the Police and Forest Department and rescued more than a dozen bears and cubs from the border area.
In this instance, the four male bears aged between 15 months and three years were found in the Sahibganj district of Jharkhand.
“We are grateful to the DGP Police Jharkhand, SP Police Sahibganj – Mrs Vijaylakshmi and the PCCF Jharkhand – Mr A K Malhotra and the DFO Sahibganj – Mr Soren who provided all possible cooperation in the field to make the operation a success” said Geeta Seshamani, Special Officer – Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Co founder – Wildlife SOS.
The four bears were transported from the Indo-Nepal border to the Agra Bear Rehabilitation Centre in Uttar Pradesh. Funded by International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears, this is the largest rehabilitation centre in the world for endangered sloth bears.
Dr.Yaduraj, Wildlife SOS Veterinary Surgeon at the Agra Bear Rehabilitation Centre said: "We are very concerned about the health of the bears. They have been mutilated very badly by their Kalandar handlers and are in a lot of pain. They are dehydrated and debilitated and will require extensive veterinary care. We will initially place them in quarantine where they will be screened for disease and subjected to a detailed veterinary health examination. Once they stabilise and become comfortable, then we will start the rehabilitation process in large forested enclosures."
Sloth bears are highly endangered and only found in the Indian subcontinent with a small population in Nepal and Bhutan. A sub species of the sloth bear is found in Sri Lanka. Sloth bears have been used for centuries as dancing and performing bears but were banned by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.