IFAW returns rehabilitated black bears to wild in India

Friday, February 22, 2008
Tezpur, India
The bears were hand raised at the Center for Bear Rehabilitation and Conservation (CBRC), a project jointly managed by IFAW, WTI, and the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department. This unique rehabilitation center, located in northeast India's Arunachal Pradesh state, directs orphaned bears through an 'assisted' release programme. Before the bears are permanently released to the wild they are acclimatized to their future home which they roam free by day but return at night to sleep in the center. Today, 5 of the 11 bears at the center took the next step toward being released to the wild. The site, chosen for the additional protection it affords the bears from hunters and predators, is the final stop before the bears are permanently returned to their natural habitat.
 
"Bears across India are disappearing due to increased poaching and habitat destruction," said A.J. Cady, IFAW's Director of Animals in Crisis and Distress, "This is a unique and vital program fighting to protect Asia's black bears and we are working very hard to assure its success as a model for all of India."
 
"The first three years of the project has been a learning experience for us. Now that we have standardized the right protocol, we are confident of success in this venture. This is the first time that this exercise is being carried out in five bears, simultaneously as a group. At time be interesting to know when and how they will start a life of their own, as bears in the wild are solitary by habitat", said NVK Ashraf, Director, Wild Rescue,WTI.

CBRC, which can rehabilitate up to 16 bears at a time, is situated on the banks of the Pakke River amidst lush, tropical, semi-evergreen forests – a perfect dwelling place for bear cubs. The center is the only project of its kind in India, rehabilitating Asiatic black bears and returning them to the wild.
 
Asiatic black bears are killed by tribal hunters throughout Arunachal Pradesh and often, when a mother is shot or abandons her cubs, hunters catch the bear cubs. In the past, tribe members often raised the cubs, until the forest department stopped the practice and began sending orphaned cubs to the Itanagar Zoo to live out their lives. It wasn't until the establishment of CBRC that the process of rehabilitating and returning bears to the wild was undertaken in India.
 
About WTI (Wildlife Trust of India)
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), is a non-profit conservation organisation, committed to urgent action that prevents destruction of India's wildlife. Formed in November 1998, WTI was created in response to the rapidly deteriorating condition of wildlife in India
 
IFAW and WTI formed a partnership in 2000 to strengthen the cause of wildlife conservation and animal welfare in India. The two organizations share concerns for a number of endangered animals, including the Tibetan antelope. Through this collaboration, IFAW and WTI are developing strategies to find solutions to wildlife threats in India and the surrounding region. 

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