A wild bear and her cubs are given sanctuary in Bannerghatta
A wild sloth bear and her cubs are currently in the care of the IAR-funded Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre after she attacked a vegetable vendor to protect her cubs. The two helpless young bears subsequently narrowly escaped being killed by villagers seeking revenge for the attack.
The vegetable vendor was cycling to market in the early hours of the morning when he spotted the large female bear and her two cubs in his path. Reacting instinctively to protect her cubs from the potential threat, she flew at the terrified man and attacked him. Hearing his screams, a group of villagers rushed to the scene, frightening away the mother bear who abandoned her cubs and vanished into the forest.
The angry mob seized the cubs and returned to the village with them, planning to burn them to death. Fortunately some of the villagers took pity on the defenceless animals and insisted they should be handed over to the local forest officer. When he arrived, Range Forest Officer Mr Chandrappa took charge of the situation, calming the villagers and then setting a trap for the mother bear using the cubs as bait.
Later that evening the female appeared and entered the cage to reach her young. However, on finding she was trapped, the wild bear panicked and started biting wildly at the bars of the cage, injuring her mouth and jaws and splintering and damaging most of her teeth in the process. She also scratched at the cage, bruising and cutting her foot pads and damaging her claws.
It was clear that the bear would need veterinary treatment and so Mr Chandrappa called the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre for help. Our partners at Wildlife SOS set off immediately and reached the location early the next morning. They tranquillised the mother bear and assessed her injuries which were quite severe. It was agreed that she needed ongoing treatment if she was to escape infection in her mouth – something that could be fatal if she was unable to eat and in danger of starving to death.
The sedated bear and her cubs were immediately transferred to the Wildlife SOS rescue vehicle and transported to the BBRC centre. She was gently placed on a bed of thick straw in a quiet den and left to settle in with her cubs.
A week later, Dr Arun, WSOS Veterinary Director, said: “The bear is making steady progress and recovering slowly from her injuries. Her cubs are also thriving and she remains peaceful and calm as long as they are kept close by her.”
The team hopes to release the three bears back into the forest as soon as the mother’s wounds have healed. Says Alan Knight, Chief Executive of IAR: “This kind of human-wildlife conflict is becoming all too commonplace in India and indeed in many other parts of the world. Thankfully, on this occasion, the villagers did the right thing and the animals’ lives were spared. Let’s hope in future others follow this example and act with understanding and compassion, not anger and a thirst for revenge.”