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New Delhi: It has been two years since Rangila, the “dancing bear” was rescued from a group of wildlife traffickers who were attempting to smuggle him across the India-Nepal border.
Though, the sloth bear is celebrating his two years of freedom at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility, he continues to be under stress and trauma, says wildlife conservation NGO Wildlife SOS. Sloth bears are species native to the Indian subcontinent and feed on fruits, ants and termites
. They are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, mainly because of habitat loss and degradation.
Several sloth bears are smuggled and trained to dance at a young age, but Rangila was lucky to have been seized by the enforcement authorities in Nepal.
With cooperation from the Indian and Nepal governments, he was eventually transferred to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility in India, said the NGO. Rangila’s case brought to light the declining trend of sloth bear population in India as they are trafficked for being used as dancing bears and other purposes, said wildlife experts on Sunday.
“The sloth bear population in India depicts a declining trend. Despite continuous efforts, cross border trafficking of dancing bears and demand for body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine, bear paw soup and bear bile still exists.
Poaching, habitat fragmentation and human wildlife conflict is a very serious threat to the sloth bears,” said Kartick Satyanarayan, CEO and co-founder of the India-based Wildlife SOS.
In December 2017, two sloth bears, 19-year-old Rangila and Sridevi, were trafficked out of India to be exploited as dancing bears in Nepal.
The Nepal enforcement authorities intercepted the traffickers at the border and the animals were shifted to the Kathmandu Zoo for temporary housing. S Ilayaraja, Wildlife SOS deputy director, veterinary services said, “Rangila was weak and undernourished when he first arrived at the centre. It took months of specialised care and treatment to restore his strength.”
“However, Rangila still exhibits signs of psychological stress and trauma that will take much longer to heal,” he said.
Although getting these bears off the streets was a victory, it wasn’t nearly enough as during this period, the female bear died. After months of highly stressful calibration and international negotiation, Wildlife SOS, in collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute, Nepal facilitated Rangila’s repatriation to India.
Today, 21-year-old Rangila is under lifelong care at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility which is run by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, the NGO said. The experts from the NGO said that Rangila is fond of various enrichments. (PTI)