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GOVT OF INDIA REPATRIATES ENDANGERED SLOTH BEAR BACK TO INDIA WITH ASSISTANCE FROM WILDLIFE SOS

In a unique patriotic move that indicates the seriousness with which the Govt. of India takes wildlife matters, an endangered sloth bear that had been smuggled into Nepal seven months ago is being repatriated back into India with assistance from NGO Wildlife SOS (www.wildlifesos.org). This seven month effort of getting the approvals from both countries including the import permits and other critical documents was pursued at several levels including ambassadors and ministers. Eventually it took a cabinet decision by the Nepal Government to approve the repatriation of the bear to India, the country of its origin.

In a 48 hour long repatriation mission carried out by Wildlife SOS & the Jane Goodall Institute in Nepal, 19 year old male sloth bear ‘Rangila’ is to finally return home to India after spending several months in a cage at Kathmandu Zoo. With cooperation from the Indian & Nepal Governments, he will be transferred by Wildlife SOS to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility for lifetime care and treatment. Two teams from Wildlife SOS are currently transporting the bear in an Animal Ambulance from Nepal to India.

Wildlife SOS successfully ended the illegal and barbaric practice of 'Dancing Bears' from India by its efforts that started in 1990s and continues to run anti-poaching operations to prevent and foul poaching attempts of Sloth bear cubs who then get sold in to Nepal as the dancing bear practice still exists there. In December 2017, two such dancing bears were spotted in a remote part of the Indo-Nepalese border and the Wildlife SOS team was tracking their movements. Unfortunately the traffickers who had the bears swiftly moved into Nepal territory where the Indian police and enforcement authorities no longer had jurisdiction. The two people were detained in Nepal by the enforcement authorities and the two bears, 19 year old Rangila & 17 year old Sridevi were shifted to the Kathmandu Zoo in Nepal for temporary housing.

This is when Wildlife SOS started their efforts to repatriate the two bears to the NGO’s Agra Bear Rescue Facility in India. The center currently houses nearly 200 rescued sloth bears and is supported by partner organization -International Animal Rescue, UK.

Sadly, one of the two bears ‘Sridevi’ the female died in the Kathmandu zoo, leaving behind ‘Rangila’ the surviving male bear. While the Wildlife SOS team worked on getting the Indian authorities to process the paperwork for the repatriation of the sloth bear back to India, they even launched a campaign to request the Nepalese Authorities to extend cooperation to help this bear, which proved to be a success. The Jane Goodall Institute in Nepal has also been working closely with Wildlife SOS to facilitate the repatriation of the surviving bear to their sloth bear rehabilitation center in India.

Earlier today, a preliminary medical examination carried out by a senior Wildlife SOS veterinarian at the Kathmandu Zoo revealed that the bear was fit for transport in their fully–equipped animal ambulance. Escorted by a convoy of support and police vehicles, the Wildlife SOS team and Rangila bear have now embarked on the 1000 kilometre journey from Kathmandu to the Agra Bear Rescue Center in Uttar Pradesh.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO Wildlife SOS said, “We are grateful to the Government authorities and the Director General of Forests of both India & Nepal as well as the Jane Goodall Institute, Nepal for extending their cooperation and support to facilitate this repatriation effort, without which this would have not been possible. This is a unique effort and India is proud to bring back their wild citizen home!”

Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary Wildlife SOS said, “Once he reaches the Wildlife SOS Bear Rescue Center in India, Rangila will receive extensive and specialised veterinary care. He will have a large forested enclosure with a pool, lots of trees to climb and other bears to play with. The most important thing is that he will be able to display natural behaviour like a sloth bear should.”

Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue a partner organization of Wildlife SOS said, “We are delighted that Rangila is safely on his way back to India. He will be given the best quality life & specialized medical treatment at the Wildlife SOS sloth bear rescue & rehabilitation center.”

Wasim Akram, Manager - Special Projects, Wildlife SOS said “A similar situation occurred nearly ten years ago in 2008 when Wildlife SOS repatriated a rescued bear from Nepal. This has been a valuable experience and we have invited the officers of the Nepal Government & the Kathmandu Zoo staff to visit Wildlife SOS. It was quite a challenging experience to implement this repatriation mission successfully. I am grateful to my team and the officers of Ministry of Environment and Forests for their guidance and support.”

Niraj Gautam, representative of the Jane Goodall Institute in Nepal said, “This has been a challenging journey for all of us and the loss of one of the rescued bears, Sridevi was simply devastating. We are however, extremely happy to see Rangila take his first steps towards freedom, under the care and love he truly deserves.”

Chiranjibi Prasad Pokheral, Project Manager at Kathmandu zoo said, “We are happy to collaborate with the Nepal & India governments & Wildlife SOS in this repatriation mission. We are looking forward to having more opportunities to exchange ideas and knowledge about animal welfare and conservation efforts.”

For more information contact Arinita Ph. +91 9560011875 - email news@wildlifesos.org

Wildlife SOS (WSOS) is a non-profit charity established in 1998 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress across India. We actively run wildlife and nature protection projects to promote conservation, combat poaching & illegal wildlife trade. We work in partnership with the Government and indigenous communities to create sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities. The Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center was established in 2009 & houses over 20 elephants with elephant care facilities.


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