Five sloth bears rescued from a village in Deoghar
Protected under scheduled-II of wildlife protection Act, 1972, keeping bears or their exhibition is prohibited. Keepers of the bears, who allegedly belonged to West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, managed to escape.
Forest officials rescued five sloth bears from a village in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district on Wednesday. The keepers of the animals, however, managed to escape from the place of rescue, officials said.
Forest department have initiated a probe to ascertain if the bears were being smuggled or if they were being used for exhibition. The locals from the village told forest officials that the smugglers were from three states Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand.
Deoghar divisional forest officer (DFO) Premjit Anand said sloth bears are listed in scheduled-II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1927. Under provisions of the Act, no one can keep sloth bear in their possession or use it for exhibition and performance, Anand said.
A raiding team comprising police personnel was formed by forest department on a tip off that some people in a village had kept five sloth bears in their possession. The team reached Mahapur village under Sonaraithadi police station in Deoghar district on Wednesday morning and seized five bears. The forest department has requested district animal husbandry officer for health examination of five bears.
“However, keepers of the animals had fled away from the place before we reach there. They might have got information about our arrival in the village. We have began the search operation to nab them,” Anand said.
He said a person was detained and he was being brought to Deoghar for further interrogation.
“During an interrogation with villagers, we found that the keepers belonged to different states including West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, which create a suspicion,” he said. Anand, however, said all five sloth bears were tamed and they were not wild.
Recovery of five sloth bears, however, stirred trouble for the forest department, as Deoghar doesn’t have any facility to keep such animals. “We have sought guideline from the state’s chief wildlife warden in this regard,” Anand said.
As per an estimation of the forest department, the population of sloth bear could be between 1200-1500 in Jharkhand.
There are eight species of bears are found in the world of which four—Asiatic black bear, Himalayan brown bear, Malayan sun bear and Sloth bear found in India. In Jharkhand, only sloth bears are found.
Wildlife experts said forest department should conduct a detailed probe into the capturing of bear, as when bears become keepers’ liability, they sell skins, nails, bones and other body parts in international market.