Poachers have resorted to baiting food with explosives to catch bears in southern India, an animal rescue group says.
Wildlife SOS rescued a sloth bear from a gully in Ramanagara, on the outskirts of the Bangalore city of Karnataka, after it was found in a critical condition with internal injuries.
The bear was found with huge internal injuries to its mouth, neck and head.
“Based on X-rays I can see multiple fractures in both lower and upper jaws, travelling all the way to the skull,” Wildlife SOS veterinarian director Dr Arun A Sha said in a statement provided to the ABC.
Together with the forestry department, a four-man team from Wildlife SOS tranquilised the bear, before carrying it to a waiting cage and taking it to urgent care.
The animal rescue group said “bleeding profusely and barely able to move, the bear could have passed off as dead had it not been for its agonised whimpering”.
Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan said the “crude” explosives method was often used by poachers to kill wild boars and other game, but now bears were being targeted.
“These crude, locally made bombs are concealed inside food baits and curious wild animals are tricked into biting into them,” he said.
“The result is often devastating and causes the head or mouth parts to explode, leaving the animal to die a slow and very painful death while waiting for the poachers to retrieve their prize.
“This is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and of convicted the poachers could be punished with a jail sentence of between three to seven years.”
According to Wildlife SOS, while the practice of dancing bears is less common, sloth bears are still poached for their use in Chinese medicines and gourmet cuisine in South-East Asia.
The male bears are poached for their reproductive organs and gall bladders which are key ingredients in aphrodisiacs.
Sloth bears are among four of Asia’s five bear species banned from international commercial trade under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Bear a ‘Champ’ during surgery
Dubbed “Champ” by the Wildlife SOS team, the sloth bear is being fed intravenously after an intense five-hour surgery.
Bone fragments and maggots were removed during the surgery and the bear is moving on its own.
In a Facebook post, Wildlife SOS said the bear was “quite friendly for a wild bear” and seemed comfortable around vets and keepers.
While the bear is slowly recovering, the group said it may have suffered damage to the optic nerve, causing partial vision impairment.
The state of Karnataka in southern India is home to a large population of sloth bears.
Over the years, the natural habitat has deteriorated due to increasing human encroachment and the bears’ population in the wild is threatened due to poaching, illegal trading of bear parts and man-animal conflicts.
Instead of buying yet more teddy bears and stuffed animals toys for kids who already have enough, a donation on their behalf to help the real bears and the really stuffed animals might be a better gift that gives many times by
- helping animals,
- not creating more landfill
- promoting empathy in the next generation.
I always worry about the conditions of poor workers in factories as well, another good reason to buy less/buy second hand/buy responsibly.
Another bonus… is hard to know what to do with much loved cuddly toys once grown-up-dom is reached – op shops don’t want them, storing them is cumbersome and throwing them out is heart wrenching…like real animals, less is a lighter mental and physical load!
Wildlife SOS was established in 1995 by a small group of individuals inspired to start a movement and make lasting change to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forest and wildlife wealth. Today, the organisation has evolved to actively work towards protecting Indian wildlife, conserving habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities or those communities that depend on wildlife for sustenance.
India’s wildlife is under severe threat – every animal from the majestic elephant and the tiger, to the shy sloth bear and rare pangolins have fast become “the hunted”. While time is running out for these creatures, it’s not too late to help. Wildlife SOS consistently makes a difference to give back to the planet, to give back to nature and help protect the environment and wildlife.
Kartick Satyanarayan and Geeta Seshamani with their shared enthusiasm, dedicated themselves to the mission of eradicating the abusive practice of ‘dancing’ bears in India completely.The initial days were very difficult due to lack of support and funding. Geeta’s foresight in creating Wildlife SOS as an arm of her existing rescue operation, Friendicoes, allowed the two organizations to share knowledge and resources as the team learned and made its way through the initial challenges of addressing the needs of urban wildlife suffering from habitat encroachment a result of the surging population growth in India.