dancing bear

They tried to run, but they couldn’t hide. Eight more dancing bears have been rescued after they were found in Nepal; their owners hiding from authorities.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(June 4, 2010 – Delhi, India) An international coalition of animal rescue groups which historically ended the practice of dancing bears in India last year has announced the rescue of a further eight bears from Nepal. The bears are now safe in a temporary holding centre in India.

Indian NGO Wildlife SOS, whose team of vets, keepers and animal rescuers led the campaign to rescue all the dancing bears in India, is now caring for the bears while their handlers are being dealt with by the authorities.

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said: “The porous borders between Nepal and India makes it an attractive option for wildlife poachers, traders, and indeed anyone seeking to profit from the exploitation of endangered species to smuggle wild animals and contraband across the porous borders and conceal themselves in remote areas. Wildlife SOS and our partners are determined to work with the Governments of both countries and other like minded NGO’s to bring an end to this barbaric practice once and for all.”

“In one particular case we worked in collaboration with a local NGO in Nepal called Roots and Shoots who helped in tracking down and rescuing a dancing bear. This bear is being handed over to the Indian Government and Wildlife SOS by the Nepal authorities to be housed in the Agra Bear Sanctuary run in collaboration between the Uttar Pradesh Forest Dept and Wildlife SOS India.

Geeta Seshamani of Wildlife SOS said “Thanks to our informer network and our good working relationship with those responsible for animal protection and conservation in both India and Nepal, the Kalandar tribals and their dancing bears were successfully tracked and rescued. The eight rescued bears will eventually be moved to our sanctuary in Agra which cares for several hundred rescued bears and gives them the freedom and the dignity to live life as nature intended. Collaboration between countries in this case is really helping here. In addition Wildlife SOS is focusing on anti poaching efforts to curb poaching of bear cubs from the wild in addition to conservation of sloth bear habitat. Conservation of bears in the wild is our ultimate objective”

The dancing bear rescue project in India first began in 2002 and is supported by several key groups who are committed to provide life-time care for the hundreds of bears that have already been rescued: Wildlife SOS, Free the Bears Fund Australia, International Animal Rescue in the UK and US and One Voice France. The project reached a historic climax in December last year with the rescue of Raju, believed to be the last dancing bear on the streets of India.

Muriel Arnal, President One Voice Association France talked about the successful end to this rescue. “We are delighted to see that the Forestwatch Anti Poaching Network setup by Wildlife SOS and One Voice has helped to make the end of this barbaric practice of dancing bears a reality now. Poachers and traders know that we will continue to lead this battle in the field as long as they try to run their illegal and very ugly business. It is a long battle that we have to fight against wildlife trade and in particular the exploitation of certain flagship species such as sloth bears. One Voice is committed to working with Wildlife SOS to ensure bear cub poaching for trade becomes a thing of the past.”

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “This latest rescue confirms what we said at the end of last year: that in due course we were likely to find other bears in need of our help that had slipped through the net for one reason or another. Now we have found eight bears whose handlers tried to outwit the law by moving out of India into Nepal. So this wasn’t the first time we discovered bears still awaiting rescue – and sadly we know it won’t be the last.”

Mary Hutton, Founder of Free the Bears Fund Australia said “Rest assured though that, wherever and whenever we hear of dancing bears in India kept illegally for commercial gain, we will track them down with the help of our Indian partners & the government authorities and bring in effective intervention including rehabilitation of the Kalandar gypsies to create alternative livelihoods and ensure this practice is discontinued.”

For further information and images, please contact:
Kartick Satyanarayan, Wildlife SOS – kartick@wildlifesos.org
Kate Schnepel, Wildlife SOS USA – info@wildlifesosusa.org