Five Little Miracles Start a New Life in India!
Five sloth bears seized from wildlife traffickers by enforcement authorities in India are starting a new life. The bears have been transferred to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility run by our Indian partners, Wildlife SOS (WSOS) in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, a rescue that was made entirely possible by our generous supporters.
The five bears were seized from poachers near the Indo-Nepal border in an anti-poaching operation jointly conducted by the Forest Department and the Police, based on intelligence gathered by Wildlife SOS. The wildlife traffickers were on the verge of selling the bears on to other middlemen when they were intercepted by the authorities and the bears were seized. Bear bile, gall bladders and other body parts are used in Chinese traditional medicine and make the bears a vulnerable target. The poachers had also smashed the teeth of the bears with metal rods and mutilated their muzzles to insert a rope to ‘train’ the bears as dancing bears. By the timely rescue of these bears, they have been saved from trafficking and a lifetime of torture.
The rescued bears were placed under temporary care and treatment initially at Bhagwan Birsa Zoological Park in Ranchi. Following formal orders from the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh Forest Departments, the bears have been transferred to the 165 acre Agra Bear Rescue Facility, the largest sloth bear rehabilitation centre in the world. The facility is already home to about 200 rescued sloth bears and, thanks in large part to kind donors to our cause, has a well-equipped, specialised veterinary hospital, treatment facilities and diagnostic laboratory.
After a two day, one thousand kilometre journey accompanied by a veterinary team from Wildlife SOS, the bears finally arrived at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility where they have been carefully settled into quarantine quarters for medical observation and screening. Following this, they will be gradually integrated into various enclosures for their recovery and long term rehabilitation.
Dr S Ilayaraja, Deputy Director of Veterinary Services at Wildlife SOS, said: “Our first priority is the health of the bears and to provide them with intensive veterinary care. Every bear will be subjected to a thorough medical examination.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said: “The timely intervention by the enforcement authorities helped to rescue these bears from poachers. Sloth bears are targeted by poachers for their body parts and to be traded as live animals for street performance. Poachers take advantage of porous international borders to move wildlife contraband and live animals across and conceal themselves in remote areas. Sloth bears are a vulnerable species and poaching from the wild severely impacts the wild population.”
Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary of Wildlife SOS, said: “We are relieved to see the bears safe and hope to give them all a high quality of life here. We have a team of expert veterinarians who are working round the clock to ensure their wellbeing.”
Alan Knight, OBE, CEO of International Animal Rescue, said: “As international partners of Wildlife SOS, we take great pride in supporting this wonderful organisation and I congratulate the Forest Department and the Police for rescuing the bears before they could be sold on and hidden without trace. We are happy that they are now safe and will be given the best quality of life and specialised medical treatment at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility which is the best rehabilitation centre in the world for sloth bears.”
Baiju Raj M V, Director of Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS, said: “We are grateful to the Forest Department and the Chief Wildlife Warden for their support and quick intervention to combat wildlife crime. Every bear brought to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility comes with written permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden.” The Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF) is the largest sloth bear rehabilitation centre in the world. The centre currently houses nearly 200 sloth bears in large forested enclosures where they receive long term medical treatment and lifetime care for these animals which are not fit to be returned to the wild. We provide funding to this centre to cover operational costs.