A wild Sloth bear cub trapped in a barbed-wire fence is an extremely worrisome image. But as soon as the news flew in that the cub was in distress, a rescue team immediately rushed to the location to the aid of the helpless cub.
The one-and-a-half year old female bear had found herself in a perilous situation after getting caught in a barbed-wire fence bordering a sugarcane farm in Chiklod forest range located in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. Local farmers who were alerted by the painful cries of the animal in the early hours of the day immediately made a distress call to the Forest Department, who then notified the Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Van Vihar Bear Rescue Facility. The villagers reportedly spotted an adult sloth bear and her cubs (who were presumably between 1.5-2 years old).
A joint team from Wildlife SOS and Van Vihar National Park in Bhopal assisted in the rescue operation and drove nearly 45 km to reach the site. Following primary inspection upon arrival, the veterinarians had spotted the mother bear in the vicinity. The team was vigilant to spend enough time on inspection, to make sure that there was no other bear nearby before they could approach the distressed cub. Only after confirming this, Wildlife SOS veterinary officer, Dr. Rajat Kulkarni immobilised the trapped bear. On a closer look, it was found that the animal’s fur was entangled in the barbed wire.
After cutting off the wire they carefully separated the entangled fur from the barbed wire, which was followed by an on-site medical examination by Dr. Gurudutt Sharma from Satpura Tiger Reserve and Dr. Prashant Deshmukh from WCT (Wildlife Conservation Trust). When they realised that the cub had not sustained any injuries, she was declared fit to be released into the wild. As the mother bear was spotted close to the place where they administered treatment to the cub, the team finally released the cub allowing her time to recuperate and reunite with her mother.
According to Dr. Rajat, the cub must have struggled for a long time since the bear dug a pit there and was resting inside it. Despite that, due to this 3-hour long joint operation the team was able to safely rescue and reunite the cub with her mother.
According to Sanjay Singh Rajput, RFO, Chiklod Forest Range, this range is inhabited by several species including Sloth bears and leopards. Additionally, animals such as wild boars and nilgai are also spotted here that often venture out to the remote villages bordering the forest in search of fruits and berries grown by the villagers. In order to keep them away from consuming or damaging their crops, people put up fences around their fields.
This time, due to timely intervention, fortunately the bear cub was rescued successfully and reunited. But these barbed-wire fences and traps such as snares are man-made threats to wildlife, and such measures often end up injuring or in some cases even killing animals that unknowingly walk into this silent trap. That is why Wildlife SOS works constantly to mitigate these threats and rescue animals who face such predicaments, contributing to the preservation of India’s natural heritage.