Two bear cubs rescued from poacher in Andhra Pradesh

February 19th, 2008 - 6:20 pm ICT by admin  

Karim Nagar (Andhra Pradesh), Feb 19 (IANS) Two sloth bear cubs have been rescued from a poacher by a joint team of the state forest department and a non-governmental organisation Wildlife S.O.S. here, officials said Tuesday. The cubs, a male and a female of around three months, were rescued from a poacher in the Pedapalli area of Karim Nagar district Sunday, some 200 km from the capital city Hyderabad.

The cubs were in a state of trauma and were dehydrated. The poacher, Malang Shah, 23, has been arrested and sent to judicial custody.

On the directions of the First Class Magistrate at Pedapalli Court, the cubs are kept at the Bear Rescue Transit Facility in Hyderabad under the care of Wildlife S.O.S, communications officer of the NGO Vasudha Mehta told IANS.

Sloth bears are not only trained and used as performing animals by the Kalandars, but also killed for their bile, which is used in traditional medicines. Kalandars are a tribe known to have trained dancing bears since medieval times in India.

The seizure of the bear cubs came barely two months after a two-week-old sloth bear cub was rescued from a poacher by an NGO in Orissa.

The tip-off about the two bear cubs having been secretly brought to Karim Nagar for sale came from a member of Forestwatch - the surveillance network of the NGOs run in association with One Voice, France. After that, a joint team of the police and the NGO activists laid a trap and arrested the poacher. The cubs were found in a basket in a locked room in his house.

A decoy was sent Feb 16 to the area to confirm the whereabouts of the cubs. Information was also received about some buyers from neighbouring villages likely to arrive the following day at Malang Shah’s house to obtain the cubs.

Malang Shah was taken to the forest department headquarters and during interrogation confessed that he bought the cubs two days earlier and was planning to sell them for Rs.16,000 (around $400).

Hitesh Malhotra, chief wildlife warden said: “We will leave no stone unturned to ensure such offenders are punished. Shah will be tried under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.”

Kartick Satyanarayan, the co-founder of the NGO who was involved in the operation said: “The exact region from which the bear cubs had been poached is presently under investigation. They could have been poached from the eastern Godavri region or from the neighbouring forests in Karnataka.”

If convicted, the poacher could be jailed for up to seven years.

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