International Animal Rescue tackles trade in dancing bears in Nepal
After bringing an end to the barbaric practice of dancing bears in India in 2009, International Animal Rescue (IAR) is now assisting with the rescue of a number of bears across the border in Nepal.
During the past year IAR’s partners Wildlife SOS (WSOS) have been painstakingly gathering intelligence on bears smuggled out of India by their Kalandar handlers to evade capture by the police. Some bear cubs poached from the wild in Indian states such as Uttar Pradesh or Bihar are also taken across the border into Nepal to be sold on to wildlife traffickers in South East Asia. Their fate can be a gruesome one, with their paws cut off to be used in bear paw soup and other body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine.
In January this year five tiny bear cubs had a lucky escape when they were rescued from wildlife traders in the Bihar district of India in a joint operation by the local police force and the Wildlife SOS anti-poaching unit.
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.
Alan Knight, Chief Executive of IAR, said: "We may have effectively shut down the trade in dancing bears in India, but, where there is money to be made, there will always be people willing to break the law or find a way round it. However, our partners at Wildlife SOS are working with the governments of both India and Nepal and with local NGOs to stamp out this vile practice which causes suffering and often the death of so many animals.
“We have already succeeded in rescuing nine dancing bears from Nepal and they are now safely in the care of the team of vets and keepers at the Agra Sanctuary. In time their physical and psychological scars will heal and they will have a second chance to live the lives of happy, healthy bears.”
The intelligence gathered via a network of informers indicates that there are at least ten more dancing bears in need of rescue in different parts of Nepal. IAR and WSOS are already planning the logistics of each rescue operation and appealing to their supporters to give generously to help with their treatment and ongoing care.
Alan Knight concludes: “We are making the bears in Nepal the subject of our Christmas supporter appeal. Dancing bears are mutilated and beaten by their handlers and are often sick and starving when we find them. It is vitally important that we rescue these animals and start treating their illnesses and injuries before it is too late.”