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Poachers target mother and baby bears for gall bladder

Organ fetches five times higher price than gold, used in Chinese medicines.

dehradun Updated: May 10, 2017 20:39 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
Poaching,Bear,Gall bladder
he latest trend of targeting mother and baby bears in the Himalayan state was tracked by TRAFFIC India.(HT Photo)

Poachers are poisoning female bears and their cubs in Uttarakhand to extract gall bladders, which are priced much higher than gold in international market and used in the preparation of Chinese medicines, experts claimed.

The latest trend of targeting mother and baby bears in the Himalayan state was tracked by TRAFFIC India, a division of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), that works towards curbing illegal wildlife trade.

Four bear bladders were seized in October last year and two in November. On March 10 this year, four bear bladders were seized from Nanda Devi National Park, two from Dehradun on April 17, and three on May 7.

Shekhar Niraj, an IFS officer and former head of TRAFFIC India, said at least one bladder was smaller in each of the five cases, indicating that baby bears were killed. After probe, the agency found out the modus operandi of poachers.

“Mama and baby bears are soft targets. There are various ways of killing them and poisoning is one of them. But the type of bladders seized in all five operations indicates that bear families were targeted,” Niraj told Hindustan Times.

According to the last census conducted by the state forest department in 2008, there were 1935 black bears, 14 brown bears and 172 sloth bears in Uttarakhand. Bears are found in tough terrains and at high altitudes, so their vulnerability to poachers is high.

“Conservation of bears isn’t on the agenda of governments. Only 9-10% of bear poaching cases are reported in India,” an expert said requesting anonymity. “The species is extremely significant in preparing Chinese medicines. After bears disappeared from other counties, poachers have shifted their focus to India.”

The price of a bear gall bladder is more than five times that of gold in the international market.

“It’s obvious that mother and baby bears are targeted after we examined the gall bladders. Poisoning could have been used to kill other species as well,” said Dhananjai Mohan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (intelligence).

First Published: May 10, 2017 20:38 IST