Wildlife SOS saves more bears from Indo-Nepal traffic

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  March 2013:

AGRA,  India––“In an all night anti- poaching rescue operation based on intelligence provided by Wildlife SOS,  four young male sloth bears were seized from poachers in the Sahibganj district of Jharkhand on the Indo-Nepal border,”  Wildlife SOS cofounder Geeta Seshamani e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on February 19,  2013.

“Six persons were arrested,”  Seshamani said.  “Four bears aged between 15 months and 3 years were smuggled into India from Nepal by Kalandars,”  the tribal people who traditionally promote dancing bear acts,  “who were planning to sell them to others for a hefty price.”

After rescue,  Seshamani continued,  “The four bears were transported carefully in a large truck to the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rehabilitation Center in Uttar Pradesh,  which is the largest rehabilitation center for sloth bears in the world,”  operated with the help of Free the Bears Fund,  of Australia,  and International Animal Rescue of the United Kingdom.

“The anti-poaching unit of Wildlife SOS,  called Forest Watch,  is run with support from One Voice of France,  the Humane Society International division of the Humane Society of the U.S.,   and Hauser Bears of the United Kingdom,”  Seshamani said, “and helps monitor illegal trade in wild animals and their parts through a network of informers and decoys,  assisting enforcement agencies across India.”

Rescuing 460 bears in seven years,  Wildlife SOS in December 2009 took custody of the last known dancing bear in India––but as the November/December 2012 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE exposed,  Wildlife Trust of India founder Vivek Menon and World Society for the Protection of Animals director general Mike Baker claimed credit for the accomplishment at the 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management in New Delhi.

“More than 12 dancing bears are roaming between India and Nepal.  Wildlife SOS is fully aware about this,  but with the knowledge that dancing bears are still there in the streets,  they announced that they have taken out the last dancing bear from the street,”  complained Wildlife Trust of India representative Jose Louies in the January/February edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.

Nepalese reports document,  however,  that Wildlife SOS had rescued at least 15 dancing bears of Nepalese origin since 2006,  including eight from within Nepal in 2010.  There appears to be no record of WSPA and the Wildlife Trust of India rescuing any.

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