Kund Bear Sanctuary, some 12 hectares fenced area located at Kund (NWFP) having natural vegetation and intensive care unit, has been developed to provide semi-captive conditions,supported by an intensive health care and supplemented high energy vitamin-rich diet.
The facilities generated at the bear sanctuary, apart from providing fear-free semi captive conditions for the confiscated bears, are also being exploited in mastering the state of art and science of captive management of bears, which can be pressed into action if captive management remains the only alternative for maintenance of genes of a population/ race/ species of bears, facing an eminent extinction in wild.
Our first success story deals with the rehabilitation of a golden brown female Himalayan bear. This bear was named as NEELUM, literary meaning “blue sapphire”, as it belonged to a land of mines of blue sapphire.Neelum was confiscated after a long and hard chasing operation. In the absence of proper laws, the criminals did not remain behind the bars for long, but this bear has been saved from horrible, painful, captive life very far away from its natural homeland. After proper examination and initial treatment, Neelum was shifted in Kund Bear Sanctuary in wilderness of its mother lands, after it has been fully rehabilitated and vitalized.
The release site is being chosen and necessary arrangements have being made. This bear will soon be released back in wild as and when the stage is set. Neelum is now enjoying a fearless and healthy life within the sanctuary. it has been provided with a separate enclosure with minimum human interference, high energy food, and fresh water pool to perform all its normal near wild-activities.
In northern parts of Pakistan there are many tracts far from a direct, human approach and poaching of wild animals is mainly confined to these administratively unapproachable areas. One of our associates conveyed us that a dealer in Peshawar Makri Bazar Market had asked some poacher for supply of bear cub. We started exploring our networks in four different possible poaching tracts and ultimately succeeded in digging out information about possible poaching of cub in the Swat Valley. We identified the people involved in the poaching and ultimately our field staff succeeded in rescuing a bear cub, after a long painful and horrible operation. In this operation one of our staff members received serious injuries, as the culprits were armed.
This was a male Himalayan black bear cub, which was then transported to Kund bear sanctuary. This bear cub was named as MALO, a local language word meaning strong. The weight of cub at the time of confiscation was 1.2 kg only.
Our senior management remained with this bear cub round the clock for the first week of its sanctuary life, as it was difficult for it to adjust in such a new environment at such a young age. After 24 hours continuous care for a period of a month, MALO attained a weight of about 10 kg, as by then it was gradually separated from direct care of the attendants. The spread of news of this bear rescue operation in local masses had a very positive impact on discouraging trade of wild animals in these areas.
An abandoned male black bear cub, which was later named as MAYLU, was found in a poor condition, just outside his natural habitat in Kaghan Valley of the Himalayas. The villagers, spotting the bear did not spot its mother in the vicinity and captured it with a view to sell it in the local market.
Fortunately, before MAYLU could be sold, senior management of the NWFP Wildlife Department got informed and the cub was being confiscated.MAYLU was handed over to the local wildlife officials, and they did their best to care the distressed bear cub.
Unfortunately, the Wildlife staff were not sufficiently trained in proper caring and handling of this bear cub.Wildlife staff was not able to fulfill the nutritional requirement of the bear cub, and it was maintained on bread and fruits, which was almost indigestible by his delicate stomach too hard to be digested by his delicate stomach.
Wildlife department was considering moving MAYLU to some zoo, when we got informed about the miserable state of this cub. We requested the NWFP Wildlife department for its handing over. After the acceptance of our request. we immediately shifted it to Kund Bear Sanctuary. Initial examination by the veterinary expert revealed that Maylu was so undernourished and weighed 7.8 kg, only, while a 7 months old bear should weigh around 20 kg.
Special diet was prepared to restore Maylu’s health. Malu remained in the intensive care section of the Kund Sanctuary . In just five days Maylu weighed 9.4 Kg .The cub was later moved to an area where its interaction with man was limited, allowing him privacy to develop his natural behavior to the fullest extent.
When Maylu attained a weight of 20 kg, it was released into his own enclosure where he is learning the skills required to survive in the wild. We hope that Maylu will ultimately exhibit its natural behavior and instincts, when it can survive under the natural odds of wild conditions. MAYLU will soon be released back into the original habitat of Kaghan valley. “Maylu” is a local Pushtu word for bear; and so we named the bear cub accordingly.
The major credit in the success of BRC plotted national bearbaiting control campaign goes to NWFP Wildlife Department. The unconditional support of the department is responsible for great achievements of BRC. NWFP is the only province of Pakistan where there is no bear in captivity.The province was, in past, the center of bearbaiting activities, but now due to strict implementation of the laws, gypsies do not dare to enter the province.
The gypsies migrated from this province very early, due to strict policies of the wildlife administration of the province. In Dir, a tract in the province of NWFP, some authorative persons, purchased a bear, to be used as Beating and dancing bear in fairs.
Due to strict laws, policies and efficiency of the Wildlife Department of NWFP, we were not only able to avert the bear beating event, but also got successful in taking this bear into our custody. Our job was made tough due to the influential status of the organizers. The rescued bear was then shifted to Kund Bear Sanctuary, where it is enjoying a healthy life with other bears.
Most interesting thing about this bear was that it was a sloth bear, a bear species not found in Pakistan. This bear was smuggled in to Pakistan from India through a ship. After this confiscation, relevant wildlife authorities were alerted, which resulted in significant decrease in smuggling of bears through these routes. This bear was named as “Karishma”, meaning unusual, as it was confiscated from the area where confiscation was usually not possible.
Our field staff got informed about a bearbaiting event, scheduled to be arranged in Punjab, where thousands of people had been invited. As many as 30 bears and many dogs had been arranged for this event. We informed the relevant government authorities confidentially and sought their support to obstruct this event. Due to several reasons, our intimation of this event was not taken seriously. The authorities of the law enforcement department empathetically stressed that organizing a bearbaiting event was not possible in any part of the Province Punjab.
After facing a disappointment from government authorities, we independently decided to monitor this event till the end to provide solid evidences of its occurrence to the authorities. We planned to monitor the event through three teams. One team stayed at the venue of the event and provided minute to minute information information on proceed of event to BRC headquarter, helping us to manipulate strategy depending on circumstances. Second team was placed in nearby city as central monitoring and execution team. Third team was provided with a Cherokee plane to keep aerial monitoring of event and saving evidences with the eye of the camera.
After long, tough and tiring efforts, our monitoring team succeeded in capturing all aspects of event through aerial photography. Photographs of 30 bears, many dogs and thousands of people sitting as spectators were taken. In this way, irrefusable evidences of occurrence of event were collected and provided to relevant government officials to seek their support. After all our hard work and efforts, government officials finally succeeded in capturing one bear, which had actually participated in the bearbaiting event. This bear was initially sent to Rahim Yar Khan Zoo, where it was kept in a monkey cage. After completion of legal formalities, which took about a year, this bear was brought to Kund Bear Sanctuary, to live a free and peaceful life.
Through the efforts of our monitoring team we received information about a bear baiting event, which was being organized in Udehero Lal, a very far away place in the province of Sindh. We prepared a team with support of Sindh Wildlife Department officials and collectively chalked out a strategy to get this event averted. Difficulties were faced in obstructing this event, as the organizers of the event were very authoritative. These landlords had strong relations with political parties and police officers of that area, which made our success doubtful.
After final discussion with wildlife staff, we decided that we shall take a step for averting this event even in the absence of any support from police. On our convincing effort, local police officials assured us that if they were unable to support us, they would also not support the organizers of baiting event. As per our strategy we raided the event. When news of raid suddenly spread in the crowd, crowd dispersed and the fair was disrupted. Gypsies started running along with their bears. We followed two gypsies; one of them escaped , while the other unleashed his bear to attack us. But surprisingly, as if this bear was aware of all our efforts and hardships, instead of attacking us it left its owner at its own and very peacefully entered our vehicle.
This bear was brought to Karachi after an hour of traveling. Detailed examination suggested that this bear was very badly injured. It appeared very difficult for this bear to reach Kund Bear Sanctuary, which was about 2,000 km away from Karachi.We tried another option and planned to take it to sanctuary by air. We counseled with PIA officials and convinced them. Very soon this bear started its journey towards its destination by PIA. Now this bear is one of the strongest black bears of the sanctuary. It passed longest hibernation in the sanctuary, indicating that it is reverting to its natural behavior.
In 1969, with the interference of the Federal Government, all the Four Provincial Wildlife Departments of the country stopped the issuance of licenses, and hence the captive maintenance and capture of bears from wild as illegal.
In the year 2007, a legislation was promulgated, where keeping bears of less than four years of age in custody of gypsy was considered as illegal. After this a frame work was formulated , whereby black bears of less than four years of age could be withdrawn from gypsies.
We started working in this perspective and received information from one of our monitoring teams about a gypsy, living near Federal Capital Territory, who had one-year old , two bear cubs. The relevant wildlife officials were intimated and requested to liberate these bear cubs from illegal gypsy custody, but in vain. We prepared our own team, assigned with the task of a full time monitoring of these cubs with the hope that ultimately these cubs will get released from custody of the gypsy. Fortunately, a ray of hope emerged when we came to know that the gypsy was trying to move to another province along with these cubs. We took the matter with the officials of that Provincial Wildlife Department, and they assured us of their support. A strategy was formulated with the concerned Wildlife officials to capture these illegal bear cubs as these enter the province.
For this purpose we required to know the exact time and place of the entry of the gypsy into the province. All vehicles entering the province were checked on the expected date. We evolved a system whereby, we also managed to follow the gypsy family from their starting point till their entry in respective province. We did no want to loose this opportunity; therefore our team remained alert till the end.
All such preplanning, strategies and efforts fetched us a real success, when we captured one of the bear cubs from the gypsy custody and managed to arrest him on the charge of illegal keeping of the bear cubs in his custody.
SUTAIEL' means highly victimized. Through our monitoring team we received information about the possible organization of a bearbaiting event in district Dadu (Hyderabad Division). Our teams immediately rushed to relevant district and requested the wildlife officials and other law enforcement agencies for their support in stopping the beating event. We were informed that organizers of this event were very strong and influential in that area and it was not possible for these agencies to get this event stopped. We felt that we were totally helpless and we started thinking of almost giving up monitoring of this event, regarding it as a futile effort.
At that point, we came with an excellent idea. We started monitoring the expected routes to be used by gypsies for transportation of their bears, The plan worked well and organizers could find only one bear for baiting event, as we had successfully averted all bears from reaching the venue of event. This bear was used in 15 different fights and each time it had faced two furious dogs.
At the end of the baiting event this bear was seriously injured. Its muzzle was hanging down with a thin ligament. Its body was badly injured and bleeding. Owners of this bear were nearly burying it, when our teams reached to rescue this badly injured bear. The bear was examined, given first aid ,and transported to the Bear Sanctuary, where it is living an ensured happy and healthy life.
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