The Kalandars of Karnataka, originally Muslim gypsies with a highly nomadic lifestyle were famous for their mastery over animals. For three hundred years they earned a living from various types of performing animals, especially dancing bears.
We at Wildlife SOS believe that it is important to train the Kalandars, and other local communities, in an alternative employment to reduce their dependency on working animals and the wildlife they poach. We also teach the value of protecting their natural inheritance.
We conducted a study to assess the needs of the Kalandar tribe and their preferences for alternative employment.
This study indicated that the younger generation of Kalandars was already frustrated with the dancing bear profession, and would prefer to provide for their families in other ways (such as metal work, driving auto rickshaws, auto mechanics, etc).
After surrendering his bear, the Kalandar signs an agreement with us ensuring that he will not use any wild animals for earning money. So far, more than 300 Kalandars have surrendered their bears and opted for rehabilitation, earning more money than they ever could exploiting wildlife.
We also send kids from Kalandar communities to school, and assist women in becoming second wage earners in their families.