In the month of August, we shared the news about five live sloth bears that were seized from poachers near the Indo-Nepal border. This was a covert operation jointly conducted by the Forest Department and local Police authorities based on intelligence provided by our anti-poaching unit- Forest Watch.
Aged between 2 years and 10 years, the bears were intended for sale to other middlemen by the wildlife traffickers when they were intercepted by the authorities and the animals 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. The timely intervention by the enforcement authorities helped to rescue these bears from illegal trafficking and a lifetime of torture. Poachers take advantage of porous international borders to move wildlife contraband and live animals across & conceal themselves in remote areas.
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.
After a two day journey across nearly 1050 kms in an air-conditioned animal ambulance of Wildlife SOS, the bears have finally arrived at the centre, accompanied by our team of expert rescuers, veterinarians and paravets. They reached in the wee hours of the night earlier this week and 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. 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. We are relieved to see the bears safe and hope to give them all a high quality of life here.
For all the Harry Potter fans out there, we have some spectacular news— the bears have been named after members of the beloved Weasley family! Arthur, Molly, Ron, Ginny & Charlie are slowly settling into their new home and our dedicated staff is closely monitoring their progress. We introduced the newest additions to our ABRF clan to some fun enrichments to keep them engaged. Needless to say, their curiosity has been piqued especially when they figured out that the enrichments had hidden treats inside them!
The Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF) is the largest sloth bear rehabilitation centre 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 International Animal Rescue-UK, Hauser Bears & other supporters.