Forest officials have recently rescued a sloth bear from smugglers in West Bengal’s Malda district, and three persons have been arrested. The animal was being used in Nepal as a dancing bear for street performances and was transported illegally from Nepal to West Bengal. Forest officials said that a 6-year-old male sloth bear was being transported from an area near the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar, into West Bengal.
Divisional Forest Officer, Malda, B. Siddhartha said that sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) is a Schedule I species under The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 which grants it the same level of protection status as tigers, pangolins and elephants. According to officials who were part of the rescue operation, the animal was rescued towards the end of July and was transported to a safe facility thereafter.
Severe and untreated wounds
A press statement from Wildlife SOS, an organisation working for rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India said that the bear’s teeth had been brutally smashed with metal rods and the delicate muzzle had been pierced with a very coarse rope inserted into it to train the animal for street performance.
“The wounds were severe and untreated. The timely rescue of this bear has saved the poor animal from a lifetime of torture and suffering,” the statement issued on Saturday, said.
“The rescued sloth bear is receiving medical treatment and day-to-day feed and care. It has been rehabilitated at the West Bengal Bear Rescue Centre at Purulia run by Wildlife SOS and the Forest Department. The development comes close on the heels of the rescue of two sloth bears from Bokaro in Jharkhand. It was because of the intervention of an organisation founded by former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi that the sloth bears were rescued in Jharkhand.“
While we hope to never revisit the horrors of the dancing bear practice in India, wildlife poachers and traffickers continue to take advantage of the semi-porous borders between Nepal and India to smuggle wild animals and contraband across international borders and conceal themselves in remote areas. “Like any other crime, the Forest Department and Police are taking stringent measures to curb this,” Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said.
“Like any other crime, the Forest Department and Police are taking stringent measures to curb this”Kartick Satyanarayan Co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS