Runaway bear captured in 6-day hunt

Runaway bear captured in 6-day hunt

 An eight-year-old female sloth bear which had escaped from the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) six days ago was captured near Anekal on Thursday.

The animal, named Tulsi, was wandering harmlessly on the fringe of Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) and in villages around Anekal. Local residents informed officials who rushed to the spot and found the bear sitting near a tree, basking in the morning sun. A team of veterinarians and forest officials tranquillised and captured it around 11 am.

The bear’s medical examination showed that it survived on termites, fruits and greens from the forest and villages. It lost six kilos. “When it was made to vomit, for medical examination, we found jackfruit. These animals need not hunt as they can feed on anything,” Dr Arun A Sha, Director, Veterinary Research and Operations, Bear Rescue Centre (BRC), BBP, told DH. He said the animal had probably escaped by jumping the moat, just like other bears in the past. The BRC has requested BBP officials to increase the height of the moat and erect electric fences. The moat’s present height is 10 feet and BBP officials said it was being increased by another foot. The work is slow because of fund shortage, they added.

In 11 years, there have been at least five incidents of bears escaping into adjoining forests. The BRC and BBP staff recall instances of bears escaping from the safari gates along with safari vehicles. Six years ago, in separate incidents, two bears died after coming in close contact with safari vehicles.

There were also incidents of foresters and veterinarians luring runaway bears with fruits into the safari area. Sha recalled instances of wild bears wandering into the safari area during the feeding time and whose movements were recorded by camera traps. “Pug marks of bears with cubs have been found near safari water tanks. Bears or rescued animals do not escape intentionally. They wander or escape when the mercury goes up,” he added.

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