Threatened by Maoists, 22 bears find home in Bangalore

Bangalore, Nov 12 (IANS) Twenty-two sloth bears sheltered in Purulia forest in West Bengal have been brought all the way to Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) here to save them from Maoist violence, authorities said Friday.

‘The Bannerghatta Biological Park, Karnataka Forest Department, Zoo Authority of Karnataka, Central Zoo Authority and Wildlife SOS (an NGO) have evacuated 22 rescued dancing bears to save them from severe Maoist threat received in West Bengal,’ the BBP said in a statement here.

The 12 male and 10 female bears were housed in the bear rescue centre of Purulia forest department but then the department staff received a threat from Maoists to ‘leave the forest if you wish to remain safe’, the statement quoted Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, as saying.

The threat was taken seriously since several wild animals, birds and snakes were burnt alive in a Maoist attack on West Bengal’s Jhargram Zoo in December 2009, Satyanarayan noted.

‘The bears were evacuated with the help of three large trucks and a team of about 12 trained staff. A veterinary doctor travelled with the bears to ensure their safety and monitor their health,’ the BBP statement said.

The animals, which reached here Thursday, have been kept in the quarantine area and will be released in their designated enclosures at a later date, the BBP said.

With the addition of the 22, the sloth bear population in the BBP has gone up to 117, making it the largest collection of sloth bears in south India, the BBP said.

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