Two more Dancing Bears Rescued from the Indo-Nepal Border
Two endangered sloth bears that had been mutilated and forced to perform as dancing bears have been rescued from smugglers in India. An undercover night-time raid involving police, forestry department officials and investigators from our partners Wildlife SOS in India resulted in the arrest of the bear handler and the seizure of the two young bears. One was a female of about 18 months and the second a male bear of roughly two years old. The rescue operation took place in a very remote area of Katihar district in Bihar.
Delhi-based NGO Wildlife SOS had been pursuing the perpetrators for more than four weeks and had deployed several informers and decoys to follow the culprits and keep watch on their movements. Finally, when their location was confirmed, Wildlife SOS passed on the intelligence to the enforcement authorities and facilitated the seizure. Team members from the Wildlife SOS Anti-Poaching Unit “ForestWatch!” accompanied the police to the location and assisted in the operation. The Wildlife SOS team consisted of trained team members who assist the authorities in handling the rescued bears.
Wildlife SOS co-founder Geeta Seshamani said: “We are pleased that serious action is being taken against wildlife criminals with the police acting on our intelligence. This operation has been successful in stopping the smuggling of these two bears across the Indo-Nepal border and the culprit arrested. With the backing of International Animal Rescue in the UK and Free The Bears Australia, Wildlife SOS had rescued all the dancing bears from the streets of India by 2009. However a population of dancing bears exists in Nepal and this is causing a considerable threat to wild bears which are being poached to feed this illegal practice. We aim to change this situation in the years to come.”
M V Baiju Raj, Senior Wildlife Biologist for Wildlife SOS and Officer in charge of the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, said: "We are coordinating logistics with Bihar Forest Officers who are completing necessary legal and court procedures. We hope the bears can be shifted to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility where secure isolation and treatment facilities exist for specialist care of rescued bears. Sadly these two bears have had their teeth smashed and muzzles mutilated and hence cannot be returned to the wild.”
As Wildlife SOS prepared for the arrival of the newly rescued bears, Dr Ilayaraja, a Senior Wildlife Veterinarian of Wildlife SOS said: “The two young bears are likely to be traumatised and are suspected of having several infectious lesions. They will be isolated in quarantine and receive long term treatment for any infections, along with standard preventive health care.”
Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue, said: “We’re delighted at the rescue of these two poor bears. We know there are still some captive bears in Nepal but the success of this investigation and rescue operation is a clear indication that their handlers can’t evade capture forever. The net is tightening around them all the time.”
The four bear rescue centres in India established in India by Wildlife SOS are managed with support from International Animal Rescue and Free The Bears Fund Australia.
Wildlife SOS works in partnership with Hauser Bears UK, One Voice Association and Humane Society International to fight wildlife crime through its dedicated anti-poaching unit called “Forest Watch!”