A sloth bear which had been brutally assaulted and used for street performance in Nepal was rescued due to prompt action by the West Bengal Forest Department. The timely operation led by the Malda Divisional Forest Officer, B. Siddhartha has saved the poor animal from a lifetime of torture and suffering.
The hapless animal was being transported illegally from Nepal to West Bengal by three wildlife offenders who have been arrested in Malda district and charged violations of the Wildlife Act. They were in illegal possession of a 6-year-old male Sloth bear and trying to move him from an area near the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar into West Bengal.
The Malda district court has ordered the rehabilitation of the bear at the West Bengal Bear Rescue Centre at Purulia run by Wildlife SOS and the Forest Department. The animal is receiving medical treatment, feed and care and its rehabilitation is underway.
On examining the bear, it came to light that its 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 bear for street performance. The wounds were severe and untreated.
Talking about the bear, Siddhartha said: “The sloth bear (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. The conservation of sloth bears is crucial and we will not tolerate wildlife crime in any form."
These creatures are targeted by poachers for their body parts and traded as live animals for street performances.
Wildlife SOS Co-founder, Geeta Seshamani said: “We are grateful to the West Bengal Forest Department for their quick intervention to rescue this bear. By the looks of it, this bear may be unfit to survive in the wild due to its extensive wounds and imprinting. Our dedicated team of veterinarians and bear care staff will ensure that the bear receives daily medical care.”