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Wildlife SOS India
Wildlife SOS established India's
first Bear Rescue sanctuary, the "Agra Bear Rescue Facility"
To date they have rescued more than 520 bears and bear cubs
from the bear dancers, poachers & traders.
Along with the bears, Wildlife SOS rescue over 3000 birds,
reptiles and small mammals every year.
In 2006 Wildlife SOS launched
their elephant welfare and conservation program. More on the
elephants below ... but first the dancing bears:
What Are Dancing Bears?
Historically, the tradition
of bear dancing was created by people called Qalanders who
entertained in the royal palaces of India. Today, around 800
dancing bears are still performing on popular tourist trails
across the country. Although this barbaric practice is now
banned by the Wildlife Protection Act, various socio-economic
and political factors have made the illegal "entertainment"
hard to monitor.
Street entertainers buy Sloth Bear cubs from poachers and
train them to dance and respond to commands. Beating with
crude tools of pain, along with starvation, forces the bear
From the beginning, the young bears are subjected to horrific
acts of cruelty. An iron rod is driven through their muzzle
(without anaesthesia), and a rope and harness are attached.
Because the muzzle never heals, due to constant tugging, it
often gets infested with maggots. The bears canine teeth are
also knocked out with a metal rod. All of these bears will
die prematurely, due to disease and malnutrition. Blindness
usually accompanies their short and dismal lives.
But with your help ... this cruel practice could end soon.
How Does the Wildlife
SOS Bear Rehabiliation Work?
The aspect of the Wildlife
SOS' rescue principles is one one that Looking-Glass finds
very appealing and practical.
The organisation intends to get all 800 bears rehabilitated,
and put end this cruel entertainment for good.
It costs $2,000 USD (approx 1,418 GPB - 2,078 EUR) to rescue
a sloth bear and to train its previous owner in a new
vocation ... and that's the masterstroke!
By taking into consideration the loss of income for the bears
"owner", this means that everyone ends up happy.
Qalandar Training Schools
have been started up by Wildlife S.O.S; part of an innovative
program that deals with the root of the problem and ultimately
results in protection of the sloth bear in the wild. At the
schools Qalanders are trained in new skills like carpet making,
sari embroidery and tailoring. The retraining programme also
integrates education for women children of the Qalander community.
Geeta Seshamani, Co-Founder of Wildlife S.O.S, is very enthusiastic
about the program and says, “The training schools are creating
vocational alternatives for these Bear Dancers who often resorted
to these livelihoods because of desperation that resulted
from both poverty and the lack of education.”
With such wise principles
in practice there is no reason for dancing bears to suffer
ever again ... once the last bear has been rescued and rehabilitated.
But obviously, what seems like a straightforward target can
only be achieved by donations ... which is where you come
For example, in March
2006 with the help of donations, Wildlife SOS had rescued
every last dancing bear from the area where the Taj Mahal
is located. And, thanks to the enforcement activities and
co-operation of the Indian government and the Uttar Pradesh
Forest Department, that area should remain free of dancing
bears forever. This is truly a landmark occasion, but there
are still many more bears waiting to be rescued across India,
so please offer your support.
is Wasatch Bear, before being rescued by Wildlife SOS
Wildlife SOS School in Rajasthan, where Qalanders and their
children are taught new vocational skills and educated
The blistered legs of a captive
elephant. Made to walk many miles each day on the streets
of India's huge polluted cities
Elephant Welfare Project.
Illegally caught captive Elephants
in India are estimated to number more than 5000.
Deli is one of the most populated and polluted cities in the
world, where 40 of these elephants are subjected to terrible
living and "working" conditions. Exploited for entertainment,
celebrations, tourism and even advertising, most of these
obedient animals across India have to deal with walking several
kilometres on hot tarmac each day, while being treated inhumanely
by their owners. Cruel, painful disciplinary methods are used
on the elephants such as pins through their toenails and anklet
chains with spikes.
The Wildlife SOS Elephant Welfare
Project aims to rehabilitate these elephants in a similar
manner to their successful bear programme. They will also
train the "mahouts" (elephant owners) to treat the
elephants humanely and with compassion. Wildlife SOS will
also monitor the trading of the elephants and microchip them,
which will curb the frequency of illicit transfer between
As the Elephant Welfare Project develops Looking-Glass will
provide more information.
LEFT: Captive elephant tightly
chained to a tree.
How you can help Wildlife
Wildlife SOS believe that they
could have the last bear
off the streets of India within ten years if they can continue
their rescue and rehabilitation programme, and it’s through
your help that this mission can be achieved.
To help save the dancing bears
and to support the range of issues that Wildlife SOS are so
tirelessly coping with in India, please visit their website
where you can read more about their remarkable work.
You can also go direct to their
donation page and pay easily by Paypal
Here's Anu Bear, now healthy
(and waving at the camera!) after being rescued and treated
at Wildlife SOS Rehabilitation Centre
Rescued bears at the Wildlife SOS Rehabilitation Centre.
The Rescue shelter is situated inside the 'Sur Sarovar Bird
Sanctuary', Keetham, near Agra city.
It's designed to provide a near-natural environment for the
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