Endangered sloth bear that was smuggled into Nepal brought back to India

The 19-year-old bear, Rangila, will be transported to a bear rescue facility in Agra.
The sloth bear Rangila.(Photo courtesy: Wildlife SOS)
The sloth bear Rangila.(Photo courtesy: Wildlife SOS)
Updated on Jul 11, 2018 04:40 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByBadri Chatterjee, Mumbai

A 19-year-old male sloth bear, Rangila, which was smuggled to Nepal from India seven months ago, was repatriated to India on Tuesday from Kathmandu zoo.

More about the sloth bear

The sloth bear is a nocturnal animal, native to tall grasslands across India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal and Bhutan.

With a dusty black shaggy coat and curved claws, the animal can grow up to a maximum of eight feet and is known to live up to 25 years.

These animals are unique among the bear species as they feed primarily on ants, termites, other insects and fruits.

The female carries its young on its back.

They don’t have a fixed habitat and travel long distances for food and shelter.

The species is marked as ‘vulnerable’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. They are protected under schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

(Source: IUCN)

Rangila and a female sloth bear, Sarita, 17, who died of injuries a few months ago, had been smuggled to Nepal by wildlife traffickers. An official from the union environment ministry said: “After seven months of paperwork, we can confirm that the bear is on its way back to India.”

The central government with the help of two NGOs – Wildlife SOS and Nepal-based Jane Goodall Institute - repatriated Rangila to India.

“Our team started the journey with the bear from Nepal on Tuesday morning. We are grateful that government officials, especially the director general of forests, both India and Nepal, and Jane Goodall Institute for extending their support to facilitate this repatriation,” said Kartick Satyanaraya, co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS.

The bear will be transported to Wildlife SOS’ Agra Bear Rescue Facility, home to 200 rescued bears currently.

According to Wildlife SOS, the bears were rescued in December from the Indo-Nepalese border while they were being smuggled. The two traffickers were detained by the police. “These bears are smuggled to Nepal and mostly used in circuses, a practice banned in India but still prevalent in Nepal,” said Satyanarayan.

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