The three Kalandars who received the Wildlife SOS rehabilitation packagesIn an effort to ensure that the recently ended Dancing Bear practice has no reason to rear its ugly head, Wildlife SOS working closely with the District Collector of Bilaspur provided rehabilitation assistance to the last of the Kalandar families in Chorbatti village of Chattisgarh, all of whom recently surrendered their dancing bears to the State Forest Department.

The three Kalandars will be starting a new life using the funds provided as seed money to establish themselves in alternative, humane livelihoods. Their rehabilitation packages were presented as demand drafts by the District Collector, Mr. Sonmani Borah, IAS.

“Bringing an end to a grueling five year long court case was a big relief both for the Kalandars and for us. Our wildlife lawyers have been working on this case for several years and we are glad it has resulted in a win win situation for the Bears and for the Kalandars” said Meetu Gupta – representative of Wildlife SOS in Chattisgarh.

“The Bears had been surrendered some time ago to the Chattisgarh forest department, however it was essential to bring a closure to the legal suit so the Kalandars could move on and engage themselves in alternative livelihoods instead of spending all their time and earnings on the court case and lawyers fees, said Kartick Satyanarayan, Co founder Wildlife SOS.

The District Magistrate, Mr. Borah, was delighted at the practical approach of Wildlife SOS and said, “We will help make it an ideal Rehabilitation Project for the Kalandars. Any support that can be given by the state shall also be extended.”

In December, 2007, Wildlife SOS joined hands with Chattisgarh State Forest Department to make the state free from the brutal, barbaric and illegal practice of Dancing Bears. Since then we have already rescued and shifted eight Dancing Bears from Chattisgarh to the Agra Bear Sanctuary. Rehabilitation support has also been extended to several Kalandar families.

According to Geeta Seshamani of Wildlife SOS, “We are delighted that District Administration has very kindly offered to facilitate different State Government Schemes to this Kalandar Community in the Chorbhatti Village near Bilaspur.”

To start, the District Collector will help initiate procedures to issue all the Kalandar families Ration cards which will enable them to get subsidized rice grain as well as a Smart Health Card that will enable the members of each Kalandar family to get subsidized treatment as well as transport expenses to move patients to the hospital. Additionally the Kalandar family members could also get a Job Card under NREGA Scheme. The Collector also promised that he would provide the Kalandar village an electric connection “Ekal Batti Connection” as well as Hand Pump (water facility).

District Collector Mr.Sonmoni Borah appreciated the effort of Wildlife SOS and announced his intention to work more closely in collaboration with Wildlife SOS in future.

Wildlife SOS also provides financial aid to Kalandar families to aid the marriage costs of their daughters to encourage legal age marriages as this discourages underage and child marriage in the community.