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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR's partners Wildlife SOS rescue an endangered sloth bear cub from a snare set by poachers.

A team from IAR's partners Wildlife SOS in India has rescued a sloth bear cub of about 12 months old from a snare set by poachers. The rescue comes only days after the Indian Government launched its National Bear Conservation and Welfare Action Plan to stabilise wild bear populations in India and minimise bear-human conflicts through conservation efforts.

Rescuers with the trapped cubWildlife SOS and international Animal Rescue were honoured at the recent International Bear Association Conference for ending the trade in dancing bears in India, along with Australian partners Free the Bears. The coalition has warned that, although dancing bears are a thing of the past in India, many threats to the survival of wild bears remain.

In the early hours of 3 December, Dr Arun A Sha, Senior Wildlife Veterinary Officer of the Wildlife SOS team in Bangalore, received a call from the District Forestry Officer, Tumkur Division, Karnataka Forest Department, for help with a sloth bear trapped in a snare. There was no time to lose. The location was about two hours from Bangalore city (about 150 km) in a village situated in Tumkur Division.

The team rushed from the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre (BBRC) in Bangalore to assist the Forest Department. On reaching the spot they discovered a twelve month old wild sloth bear cub caught in a snare attached to a barbed wire fence. The cub had been trapped during the night and, in struggling to free itself, had become entangled in the barbed wire and suffered some injuries. Quick action was required to free the distressed and wounded animal. Dr Arun darted the bear cub and, once it was sedated, the WSOS team and the Forest Department officers used bolt cutters to cut away the wire and the snare that held it captive.

The cub was then swiftly transported by the WSOS team to the Bannerghatta rescue centre for treatment. The centre, one of three funded by International Animal Rescue, is home to more than a hundred rescued dancing bears and provides them with a spacious forest environment where they enjoy a peaceful and contented retirement.

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: "This incident shows the extent of the dangers threatening bears and other wildlife in India. Our Christmas supporter appeal calls for help protecting wild bears from poachers: this incident demonstrates the vital rescue work carried out by Wildlife SOS and the importance of our bear rescue centres to nurse traumatised and injured bears back to health."

"Currently the bear cub requires medical attention but is expected to make a full recovery, at which time it will be released in the same area where it was found," said Dr Arun.Rescuers cutting the bear cub free

"Were it not for the timely intervention of the Forest Department, this cub would have become another statistic. We hope the local Police and the Karnataka Forest Department take decisive legal action against the farmer on whose land the snare was found and any other persons found to be responsible for this crime. There is a serious need to spread awareness in the region about tolerance towards wildlife," said Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder of Wildlife SOS.

Sloth Bears are highly endangered and protected under Indian law under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. However, bear paws, gall bladders and bile are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicines and aphrodisiacs, and bear paw soup is a South East Asian delicacy.

Working with the Indian Government, Wildlife SOS and coalition partners International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears Australia brought an end to the barbaric practice of dancing bears in December 2009, after working on the issue since 1995.