Raid on bear baiting event saves four bears
In Pakistan, our work to protect bears from the brutal world of bear baiting recently took a dramatic turn, with a rescue mission and month long legal battle resulting in four bears now starting a new life at the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary.
Our work with wildlife officials to gather and share intelligence, strengthen legislation and enforcement, and our continual efforts to increase public awareness to end bear baiting, recently paid off. Our long term partner, the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), received a tip off that a large scale bear baiting event was being planned by powerful landlords in a secret location in Punjab.
Although organizers kept changing the date and location to avoid detection, our extensive community network found out about the secret event. Law enforcement officers and wildlife authorities were then able to swoop in and halt the proceedings.
Authorities discovered two bears had sadly already been subjected to a fight with trained dogs. But, quickly dispersing the crowds they were able to confiscate the four remaining bears that were waiting for their turn in the baiting arena. The bear owners and event organizers were arrested, as bear baiting is illegal under Pakistan’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
This was just the start of the journey to a better life for the bears, as a long legal battle commenced with the bear owners and landlords, leaving the fate of the bears at the mercy of the courts. The bears were taken to Balkasar which enabled them to feel temporarily safe at the sanctuary, although staff were not allowed to remove their painful nose rings.
But, years of work to move the people of Pakistan to protect has resulted in a victory. We have just heard BRC has won the right keep the bears, so they can live the rest of their lives in the peaceful surroundings of the Balkasar Sanctuary.
The four male Asiatic black bears are now safely in quarantine, and acclimatizing to their surroundings.
Alba (pictured above) is the oldest of the four bears rescued is six years old and is a big fan of chicken and bread. He’s also one of the friendliest bears at the sanctuary.
Tero (pictured above) is the smallest of the four bears and sure does love to snooze. You can find Alba and Tero playing with each other most of the time.
The other two in the group are a little quarrelsome, with Luz – a serious five year old when his companion, Zoe (also five years old – pictured) tries to play with him.
It’s beautiful seeing these four bears getting adjusted to life on the sanctuary. They have no idea what a vital part they played in a ground-breaking legal battle for bears in Pakistan.
We know there are still around 40 bears imprisoned for bear baiting in Pakistan.