From Wildlife Extra:
Three bears rescued from poachers are doing well
After being rescued from poachers in Nepal by Wildlife SOS and International Animal Resuce (IAR) in December 2013, three sloth bears are reported to be doing well.
The bears had been kept by poachers until they had grown large enough for sale, and when they were old enough had been taken to India in an attempt to sell them to the Kalandar community, who had traditionally used bears for dancing. However, the practice of keeping dancing bears was made illegal in India in 1972, and in 2009 all dancing bears in the country were liberated. The poachers found that, as the Kalandar community no longer maintains the dancing bear tradition, they could not sell them the bears. As a result, the animals were taken back to Nepal, where it is believed they would have been sold to make bear paw soup.
They were fortunately apprehended by Wildlife SOS and local police from the forestry department. The bears, named Bean, Bintha, and Bobby, were moved to Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park in Ranchi for care, before being relocated to the Wildlife SOS Sanctuary where they are being cared for and rehabilitated with help from International Animal Rescue (IAR).
The oldest bear, Bean, was three-years-old when he was rescued from the poachers. He was found with a rope pierced through his nose, and his canines had been removed, most likely without anesthetic. Vets removed the rope from his nose and treated him for pain.
Bintha, who was 11-months-old at the time of rescue, also had her nose pierced and harnessed with a rope, and although it has healed, she still bears the scars.
According to Wildlife SOS, Bobby is the more reserved of the three. After he has spent time learning the basics of being a wild sloth bear in the sanctuary’s socialisation enclosure, he will be given access to a free-roaming area where he can live like a wild bear, but with the added security of having the Wildlife SOS team on-hand. All the bears now have a clean bill of health and continue to improve, socialising with the other bears at the sanctuary.
Sloth bears, which are found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (the Sri Lankan sloth bear), have been traditionally used as dancing bears. They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, with currently about 20,000 alive in the wild.