Man jailed for keeping bear at home

June 22nd, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 22 (IANS) A tribal man in Orissa has been jailed for keeping a sloth bear at his home although he pleaded that he did so simply because the animal refused to embrace the jungle. Officials arrested Rama Singh Munda, 40, of Rutisila village in Keonjhar district, 225 from here, for allegedly violating wildlife law that bars a person from keeping bear as a pet. He was jailed June 17.

The bear, which had been with Munda for over a year, has been shifted to the Nandankanan zoo here.

Munda said the bear had followed him home from a nearby jungle when she was barely two or three days old.

“The bear came with me and started living with me and my family. It did not return to the wild even when I tried to release it in the forest,” he told the authorities.

“My daughter Golki and the bear used to sleep together,” said Munda, now lodged in the district Jail at Keonjhar.

Having lost her mother only four months back, the five-year-old daughter is desperate to see her father a free man. She is also pining for the friendly bear, now moved to a zoo.

Golki, who has moved to her uncle’s house, was quoted as saying: “The bear and I used to eat together and have fun. The bear was taking care of me.

“My father use to take both of us on his cycle. The bear never harmed anyone,” she said.

Forest range officer Bishnu Charan Behera told IANS that the bear was about 14 months old and in good health. He said Golki had been admitted to a school.

“Presently, the bear is pining for its master. Unless she sees him, she might die of starvation,” said Biswajit Mohanty of the Wild Life Society of Orissa. “Bears usually are highly attached to their keepers and are known for the strong bonds they develop with human beings.”

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