SIX POACHERS ARRESTED AND FOUR ENDANGERED SLOTH BEARS RESCUED IN JOINT OPERATION BY POLICE, FOREST DEPARTMENT AND WILDLIFE SOS ON THE INDO NEPAL BORDER
In an all-night anti-poaching rescue operation based on intelligence provided by Wildlife SOS, a Delhi based NGO, four young sloth bears were seized from poachers on the Indo Nepal border. Six persons were arrested by Police and the Forest Department in the night long operation that lasted several hours, carried out in the Sahibganj district of Jharkhand.
The four male bears rescued, aged between 15 months and 3 years, were smuggled into India from Nepal by members of the Kalandar tribe.
Wildlife SOS working with the Indian authorities had successfully ended the illegal and brutal practice of Dancing Bears across India with support from international partners Free the Bears Fund and International Animal Rescue in an effort that started in 1995 and rescued the last dancing bear in 2009.
“We are grateful to the DGP Police Jharkhand, SP Police Sahibganj – Mrs Vijaylakshmi and the PCCF Jharkhand – Mr A K Malhotra and the DFO Sahibganj – Mr Soren who provided all possible cooperation in the field to make the operation a success,” said Geeta Seshamani, Special Officer – Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Co-founder, Wildlife SOS.
The four bears were then transported carefully in a large truck from the Indo Nepal border to the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rehabilitation Center in Uttar Pradesh which is the largest rehabilitation center for sloth bears in the world.
Dr Yaduraj, Wildlife SOS Veterinary Surgeon at the Agra Bear Rehabilitation Center said "We are worried about the health of the bears. These animals have been mutilated very badly by their Kalandar handlers and are in a lot of pain. They are dehydrated and debilitated and will require extensive veterinary care. We will initially place them in quarantine where they will be screened for disease and subjected to a detailed veterinary health examination. Once they stabilise and become comfortable, then we will start the rehabilitation procedure in large forested enclosures."
The bears will be rehabilitated at the Agra Bear Rehabilitation Center which is run by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and has specialised facilities for veterinary care of bears.
Sloth bears are severely endangered and only found in the Indian subcontinent with a small population in Nepal and Bhutan. A sub species of the sloth bear is found in Sri Lanka. Sloth bears have been used for centuries as dancing and performing bears but were banned by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The anti-poaching unit of Wildlife SOS called Forest Watch! is run with support from Humane Society International Australia, One Voice Association and Hauser Bears, and helps monitor illegal trade in wild animals and their parts mainly operating through a network of informers and decoys, and assisting enforcement agencies across India with such intelligence.