Sloth bears receive a new lease of life

Five sloth bears seized from wildlife traffickers by enforcement authorities have been given a new lease on life. The bears have been transferred to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility run by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the U.P. Forest Dept. for long term medical treatment and care.

Representational image of a sloth bear that was used as a dancing bear in India

Five live sloth bears were seized from poachers near the Indo-Nepal border in an anti-poaching operation jointly conducted by Forest Dept and the Police, based on intelligence provided by Wildlife SOS.

All five bears will now receive long term medical treatment and care at the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Facility.

The bears were intended for sale to other middlemen by the wildlife traffickers when they were intercepted by the authorities and the animals were seized from the offenders. Bear bile, gall bladders and other body parts are used in Chinese traditional medicine and make the bear a vulnerable target for this reason. The offenders had also smashed the teeth of the bears with metal rods and mutilated the muzzles to insert a rope to train the bears for street performance. By the timely rescue of these bears, they have been saved from trafficking and a lifetime of torture.

The rescued bears were placed under temporary care and treatment initially at Bhagwan Birsa Zoological Park in Ranchi. Following formal orders from the Chief Wildlife Wardens of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh Forest Departments, the bears have been transferred to the 165 acre Agra Bear Rescue Facility, the largest bear rehabilitation center in the world for this species, run by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. The Agra Bear Rescue Facility is already home to about 200 rescued bears of the same species and has a well-equipped specialized veterinary hospital, treatment facilities and diagnostic laboratory.

The bears arrived at the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Center after a two day long journey

After a two day, one thousand kilometer journey accompanied by a Veterinary team from Wildlife SOS, the bears have finally arrived at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility where they have been carefully settled into Quarantine Enclosures for medical observation and screening following which they will be gently integrated into various enclosures for their recovery and long term rehabilitation.

Dr. S. Ilayaraja, Deputy Director of Veterinary Services at Wildlife SOS said, “Our first priority is the health of the bears and to provide them intensive veterinary care. Every bear will be subjected to a detailed veterinary health examination.”

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO Wildlife SOS said, “The timely intervention by the enforcement authorities helped to rescue these bears from poachers. Sloth bears are targeted by poachers for their body parts and to be traded as live animals for street performance. Poachers take advantage of porous international borders to move wildlife contraband and live animals across & conceal themselves in remote areas. Sloth bears are a vulnerable species and poaching species from the wild severely impacts the wild population.”

Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary Wildlife SOS said, “We are relieved to see the bears safe and hope to give them all a high quality of life here. We have a team of expert veterinarians who are working round the clock to ensure their well being.”

Alan Knight, OBE, CEO of IAR – UK, said, “As international partners of Wildlife SOS, it gives us great pride in supporting this wonderful organisation and I congratulate the Forest Department & Police for rescuing the bears before they could be sold off and hidden without trace. We are happy that they are now safe and will be given the best quality life & specialized medical treatment at the Wildlife SOS sloth bear rescue & rehabilitation center which is the best facility in the world for sloth bears.

Baiju Raj M.V, Director Conservation Projects, Wildlife SOS, said, “We are grateful to the Forest Department and the Chief Wildlife Warden for their support and quick intervention to combat wildlife crime. Every bear brought to Agra Bear Rescue Facility is with written permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden.”

The bears have been placed in the quarantine unit

The Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF) is the largest sloth bear rehabilitation center in the world. The center currently houses nearly 200 sloth bears in large forested enclosures where they receive long term medical treatment and lifetime care for such animals that are not found fit to be released back in the wild. The Agra Bear Rescue Facility runs with the support of our international partners IAR-UK, Hauser Bears & other supporters.

Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a non-profit charity established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India. We actively run wildlife and nature protection projects to promote conservation, combat poaching & illegal wildlife trade. We also work in partnership with the Government and indigenous communities to create sustainable, alternate livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities.


About the Author /

Arinita Sandilya is working with conservation charity Wildlife SOS as their Press and Communications Officer. She enjoys exploring nature through the lens of her camera.

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