A bear's death calls for tolerance

Wild act

A bear's death calls for tolerance

The death of a critically injured sloth bear at the Bear Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (BRRC) of the Bannerghatta Biological Park has brought to fore the need to sensitise people to wild animals straying into  villages in search of food.

An aged sloth bear, which strayed into Namadachilume in Tumkur in search of food on September 21, was beaten by its residents.

They tied up the frail animal and virtually beat it to death. Divisional Forest Officer B Venkatesh rushed to the spot and saved the animal from certain death. The bear was shifted to the BRRC – run by Wildlife SOS, an NGO – where it succumbed to the injuries on September 26.

Wildlife veterinarian Dr Arun A Shah, who treated the animal, said he found that the bear was critically injured by the residents.

“The bear was in a very fragile state of health, infested with ticks and having sores and wounds. It was extremely dehydrated. The bear was given immediate medication, fluid therapy and was then shifted to the BRRC for treatment,” he said.

The residents are said to have argued with forest officials that they would release the animal only if the officials took action to check attacks by leopards on them and their livestock. Forest officials, however, denied the report. They said wild bears frequented the villages, but their intrusions in the region had not escalated to  human-animal conflict so far.

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said it was unfortunate that despite Karnataka being rich in wildlife, people were not tolerant about the presence of wildlife in human habitats. “There is an urgent need to sensitise the public and create awareness to prevent such brutal killings of wild animals.

“I hope suitable action will be taken against the people responsible for injuring the bear as this amounts to violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” he said.

7 succumb to TB

Bhima, another sloth bear, died at the rehabilitation center on Saturday of tuberculosis. The 18-year-old bear was shifted from Hampikatte, Bellary, to the BBRC in August, 2006. The animal was under intensive treatment for the infection for the last 15 days, but was refusing food.

Including Bhima, seven bears have succumbed to the infection at the BRRC so far. Six more sloth bears at the rescue centre too have problems of appetite.

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