In a successful joint anti poaching operation Wildlife SOS rescued five endangered sloth bear cubs and two sub-adult bears from the Banka district of Bihar in the wee hours of morning on Friday. Three traders trying to sell the wild animals were also arrested.
The five male bear cubs are between 3 – 5 weeks old and have been separated from mother bears in the wild. The mother bears have most probably been killed by poachers to remove the cubs. The two adults are one male and one female respectively.
The week long operation undertaken by Wildlife SOS which involved intelligence gathering about bear cubs and bear cub poachers resulted in a long all night anti -operation in the Banka district of Bihar followed by raids by the Bihar Police & Forest Dept assisted by Wildlife SOS Anti poaching teams.
According to Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Wildlife SOS ” We contacted the DGP of Bihar who responded positively and provided us the necessary police support through the SP of Banka and SP of Bhagalpur. The Chief Wildlife Warden of Bihar has also been coordinating the shifting of these bears with us. It is only with the support of the government that we can tackle wildlife crime effectively. Wildlife SOS has been working to create alternative livelihoods for Kalandars to prevent bear cub poaching, but clearly this kind of crime that has gone on for centuries will take a while to stop”
Geeta Seshamani – Co founder and Secretary – Wildlife SOS said “The poachers usually kill the female bears in the forest in order to poach the bear cubs, who are then sold to illegal wildlife traders, in South East Asia sometimes using routes via Nepal. The paws of the baby bears are cut off and used in bear paw soup delicacies, while other parts are used for Chinese traditional medicine, including aphrodisiacs. Based on intelligence gathered by Wildlife SOS, a three member team of the organization assisted the Bihar police & the forest dept who raided locations in Banka district, from where the bears were recovered. The Director General of Police, Govt of Bihar – Mr Neelmani contacted the Police Superintendants of Bhagalpur and Banka districts who acted swiftly in providing police forces to carry out the raids.”
The state veterinary doctor of Banka who carried out a medical examination of the rescued animals, said that they were in a traumatized and dehydrated state and recommended the bears be shifted immediately to the bear rehabilitation centre in Agra for necessary veterinary care.
The Adult Bears were being used as dancing bears in Nepal and were just smuggled back into India through Bihar. Both Bears have a thick rope pierced through their muzzle and move or “dance” when these ropes are pulled in response to the pain.
According to Muriel Arnal, President – One Voice Association France “It is very disturbing to learn that the demand for poaching of cubs continues. We shall not stop our efforts at anti poaching until the message reaches the poachers. One Voice is working with Wildlife SOS for almost a decade and we have gradually seen the bear cub poaching reduce year by year. The Indian Government’s support in fighting wildlife crime is very crucial.”
Mary Hutton, founder & Chairperson of Free The Bears said â€œA wonderful effort has been made for the successful rescue of these five endangered Sloth bear cubs and the 2 adults. Congratulations to Wildlife SOS and to the Indian Government Departments. The cubs could be rehabilitated in the Agra Bear Sanctuary supported by FTB and IAR. They will now be able to enjoy a life of safety and freedom. Full credit must go to Wildlife SOS for the rescue. Wildlife SOS, together with FTB and IAR have worked tirelessly for 10 years and have now brought an end to the â€˜dancingâ€™ bear trade throughout Indiaâ€.
Alan Knight of International Animal Rescue said â€œThis is indeed a significant success and all of us at IAR would like to thank the Indian Government for their support and co operation in helping us all fight the wildlife trade. The rescue of these cubs have given us all fresh hope and energy in the New Year to continue our struggle for wildlife conservation and against the exploitation of animals. An impressive achievement by Wildlife SOS no doubt.â€
The Forestwatch! Anti Poaching Unit was established by Wildlife SOS with support from One Voice France and works in 13 states of India where an intelligence network has been set up for detecting, preventing and controlling wildlife crime by assisting the authorities in such operations.
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