The arrest of Ramsingh Munda alias Ramesh on June 17 for keeping a pet sloth bear has disintegrated his family.
Munda’s four-year-old daughter Gulki now lives all alone; her mother had died earlier.
The bear, Rani, too is alone and unhappy. She had escaped when forest officials arrested Munda on Tuesday night, but was later captured and brought to Nandankanan zoo. Rani, who has been quarantined from other bears, is being kept in a small enclosure where her movements are completely restricted. She is not responding to the caretakers and the new diet.
The Keonjhar district administration has decided to come to Gulki’s rescue. Keonjhar district sub-collector Biranchi Nayak said: “Gulki’s plight was brought to the notice of the district collector and instructions have already been issued to keep her in a residential school. The government will bear all the expenses till her father returns from jail.”
Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, which runs an exclusive residential school for tribal children in Bhubaneswar, has also offered to give Gulki free education. But all this help is still in the pipeline.
Chief wildlife warden B.K. Patnaik has asked for a report from the Keonjhar divisional forest officer (DFO) on Munda’s arrest. “After getting the report, we will decide the next course of action.”
In his defence, Munda said: “I never kept the bear in chains. She was always happily playing with me and my daughter. I regularly fed her and after the forest officials started looking for me, I even tried to release her in the forest. But she kept coming back to me. What wrong have I done?”