Monday September 20, 2021

Rescued bear cub in good health

Islamabad : Rescued from a Gujranwala village and kept at a wildlife sanctuary in Islamabad, a black bear cub is adapting well to the new habitat after getting a clean bill of health from veterinarians.

According to Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) chairperson Rina S Khan, the seven-month-old bear looks relaxed after the removal of a painful metal nose ring and collar.

Though two incisors are broken and claws trimmed, the vets found him to be in good health.

Baloo, as the bear cub is called, was seized by the Punjab wildlife department at the board’s request and handed over to it on July 20 for rehabilitation. He was forced to dance on the streets of Gujranwala by his gypsy keeper for livelihood.

The IWMB is nursing another rescued black bear cub, Daboo, back to health in the sanctuary. He was taken away by poachers after killing his mother but was rescued in the country’s north-eastern part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which borders India. He’s just two-month-old at that time, undernourished and suffering from scabies and an ear infection.

As the black bear is threatened with extinction due to the loss of natural habitat, its use for baiting has been outlawed by the government. However, the ban is rarely enforced.

According to Rina S Khan, Baloo, who was called the dancing bear of Gujranwala, is a little older than Daboo.

“Slowly and gradually, we [IWMB] will introduce Baloo to Daboo, who’s a bit smaller than him hoping that the two will be able to play together,” she said.

The IWMB chairperson said the Punjab wildlife department was investigating Gujranwala gypsies and poachers for the recovery of more bear cubs.

She said the board desperately wanted to make a wildlife centre at the site of Islamabad’s erstwhile.

“We have an animal rescue facility and educational centre to spread awareness. Let’s save and protect Pakistan’s most vulnerable species and let’s show the world we can do it here with experts!”

Rina S Khan urged people to join hands to end the cruelty of bear dancing and baiting in the country.

She praised Dr Fakhar-i-Abbas of the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary for ‘doing saintly work of rescuing indigenous bears from the cruelty of bear baiting’ and said Daboo’s fur had changed since he came under the IWMB’s care showing his good health.

“He’s a shiny, happy black bear cub. I really hope that we are able to release him back into the wild one day… a panel of international bear experts will decide when he’s older. If not, a rehab facility is being built in Azad Jammu and Kashmir for black bears," she said.

Members of the Twitterati hailed the board for animal care initiatives.

"It is so important to have this sanctuary in the space used for the zoo in the past. Our local wildlife can be saved & nurtured back to health. And it will undo the bad karma of mistreatment of animals there by CDA [Capital Development Authority] and others," Mahbina said in a tweet.