By Jordan Carlton Schaul and Vinay Datla
A call about a wild bear in Shikohabad, which is 75 kilometers from the Agra bear rescue facility was received by Dr. Ilayaraja at 9:00 am this morning. His rescue team was deployed to a Jamali pur village. It took 2 hours for the team to reach the village, where an adult sloth bear was discovered in the middle of a dry storm drain. It was very dark inside the drain, which was estimated to be around 40 feet in length. Without a long a torch in our rescue kit, the villagers used a mirror and directed the sun into the storm drain.
With a transport cage and a net available, Dr. Ilayaraja decided to cover the dry storm drain on one end with the cage and the other end with the net. Dr. Ilyaraja managed to dart the bear through the netting as planned. After waiting about 15 minutes for the drug to take effect, Satyender went into the storm drain with a long stick and tested the bearâ€™s response. The bear still conscious started moving backwards towards the cage. We all thought the rescue was a success as the bear moved into the cage, but suddenly the villagers shouted â€œBalu aa gaya.â€(Bear has come). The bear, spooked by something or someone ran towards the other end right toward Satyender, who narrowly escaped a direct encounter with the frightened sloth bear. The bear reached the net and broke free. The villagers who were responsible for holding the net got scared by the force of the angry sloth bear, dropped the net and ran away. The bear was left tangled in the net. Raj kumar, and Veeru managed to hold on to the net to contain the bear while Dr. Ilyaraja attempted to dart the bear again. Unfortunately, he missed, which happens when one tries to dart a bear in open spaces. The angry and aggressive bear managed to escape containment. At this point Dr Ilayaraja found himself face to face with the bear. He had grasping pole in his hand and attempted to catch the bear. The bear almost attacked him, but ultimately ran away.
In no time the bear had evaded the villagers and escaped into nearby wheat and potato fields about a kilometer away, resting in the shade under a tree before getting spooked by villagers and again moving on. Ultimately, it had moved about 2.5 kilometers from the place where it was initially darted. Eventually the bear was successfully darted and immobilized, as noticed by its slowed ventilation rate.
Santyender covered the bear eyes with a cloth and the team carried the bear for almost a kilometer. With an additional dose of tranquilizer, the bear was loaded into a cage and the cage was then placed into the vehicle. The team left the village at 3:30 pm and arrived back at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility at 5:30 pm. At the facility, the animal was observed for injuries and general condition. The bear has now been fully examined and deemed releasable and will be released as soon as forest department permission is secured and a suitable release site is identified.