Wildlife SOS evacuates bear sanctuary

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010:


BANGALORE–Responding to posters hung by Naxalist Maoist
rebels warning “Leave the forest if you wish to remain safe,”
Wildlife SOS cofounder Kartick Satyanarayan during the second week of
November 2010 led the evacuation of 22 former dancing bears from a
rescue center in Purulia, West Bengal, to the Bannerghatta Rescue
Center on the outskirts of Bangalore in Karnataka state, 1,200 miles

The 12 male and 10 female sloth bears were moved in three
trucks by a team of 12 Wildlife SOS staff. The journey over most of
the length of India took four days. The arrival of the West Bengal
bears expanded the Bannerghatta Rescue Center bear population to 139.
“When the Purulia Forest Department and Animal Rescue Center
received serious threats from Maoist insurgency groups to evacuate
all staff from the forest area, we were concerned,” Satyanarayan
told The Times of India, “since several wild animals, birds and
snakes were burnt alive in a Maoist attack in December 2009 on the
Jhargram Zoo in West Bengal.” In a similar incident, Maoists in
August 2010 burned a truckload of 70 pigs who had just arrived from
Haryana state.
Earlier in 2010 the National Tiger Conservation Authority
blamed alleged losses of tigers at reserves in Jharkand and five
other states on Maoists. The NTCA blamed the insurgents for poaching
tigers and tiger prey and driving out wildlife agents, but was
embarrassed when media asked how officials knew about tiger losses if
no one had been able to count the tigers.
“The India State of Forest report, released by environment
minister Jairam Ramesh last year, said that Maoist-controlled areas
witnessed maximum increase in forest cover,” recalled Sowmya Aji of
India Today.
Maoist leaders meanwhile agreed to cooperate with tiger
censuses in the Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand reserves that the
NTCA had claimed were inaccessible.

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