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Notes

This information has been summarised from the "Wildlife SOS" website.

Wildlife SOS was created by a group of committed individuals who believe that it is not too late to help and save wildlife. Wildlife SOS believes that rapid action needs to be taken by every individual in this lifetime to make a change that will conserve and protect the environment and wildlife.It is time to catalyze ourselves into action and spearhead initiatives to prevent wildlife from being hunted, poached or traded and encourage protection of the habitat which nurtures wildlife.

The Wildlife SOS philosophy

All of us have one life, and itís not very long. In the short period that we have, each one of us must make a difference! All along, mankind has exploited wildlife, forests and natural resources in the name of development and growth. Itís now time for us to give something back to nature. Our motto is ďGive Back To NatureĒ. With your support we can help wildlife in the fight for survival.

Wildlife SOS is a registered Non Profit Charity in India and USA

Sloth Bear Conservation & Rescue

Wildlife SOS has a national mission to conserve sloth bears in the wild and rehabilitate sloth bears in captivity, especially those held by the Qalandars. Wildlife SOS rescues "dancing" bears from the Qalandar, provides health care and nutritious food, and houses them in spacious enclosures."

Wildlife S.O.S Campaign to rescue and Rehabilitate India's 'Dancing Bears'

Under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, The Indian Sloth Bear is given the same protection as the Tiger. Yet crimes against it are committed openly across India as these bears are made to 'dance' for entertainment using tools of cruelty and torture, by members of the Kalandar tribe.

Since 1995, Wildlife S.O.S has been working to 'free' the dancing bear and bring an end to this illegal trade that is rapidly depleting the wild population of sloth bears (Melursus ursinus).

The Story of a Dancing Bear:

This brutal practice of dancing bears entered India about 300 years ago.

This trade is a sad story of poaching of tiny week old cubs, brutal killing of the mother, trafficking of bear cubs only so they could be brutalized with excruciatingly cruel and painful training methods.

It is indeed a shameful exploitation of wildlife to see these shy creatures of the forests stripped of all their dignity and wild behavior being made to jump up and down in pain with a stick and the flicking of a rope. The baby bears undergo the utmost trauma when it is transported from one underground wildlife market to another till it reaches the kalandar villages where it is trained for its short and brutal life as a 'dancing bear'.

As they grow up, their teeth are knocked out with a metal rod; male cubs are castrated using crude methods without anesthesia, claws chopped off and a red hot iron needle is forced through their delicate soft muzzle, through which a thick coarse rope is thrust. This wound is not allowed to heal, so that when the rope is pulled, the bear jumps up in pain making it appear like the bear is 'dancing', much to the amusement and entertainment of tourists and bystanders who are ignorant about the truth. They often pay the Kalandar, thereby unwittingly encouraging him. The Bear's life is spent tethered to a four foot long rope and with a severely deprived diet.

The Rescue of a dancing bear and the rehabilitation of the ex-bear dancer:

Garnering support from the Government and adopting a holistic, practical approach, Wildlife S.O.S used a scientific approach to tackle the Dancing Bear issue. Kalandars were convinced to voluntarily surrender their Bears to take up alternative and legal livelihoods with seed funds and training provided by Wildlife S.O.S. The Bears were microchipped to prevent replacement and entry of new bears. The kalandars signed agreements commiting to not dancing Bears or using wildlife again. Wildlife S.O.S provides Kalandars training and support to establish them carpet weaving, tailoring, grocery shops, rickshaws, embroidery, jewellery making as well as support education initiates to create a new literate, informed and educated younger generation of Kalandars. Wildlife S.O.S subsidizes school fees, uniforms and books.

Success Achieved:

Since December 2002, Wildlife S.O.S, working in tandem with forest departments has rescued over 400 'dancing bears' from a life of bondage. These bears have been rehabilitated at Wildlife S.O.S rescue centres run in collaboration with respective State Forest Departments, located at Agra, Bangalore, Bhopal, Hyderabad and West Bengal.

To watch The Last Dance, a film that showcases Wildlife S.O.S's efforts to rescue India's Dancing Bears, visit www.thelastdance.info

Bear Rescue and Kalandar rehabilitation work is supported by international partners like International Animal Rescue, Free the Bears Fund Inc. Australia, One Voice France & Humane Society International-Australia.

Task ahead:

Around 300-400 Dancing Bears still dance on India's street and await rescue. Wildlife S.O.S looks for your support to provide a home to these bears and develop the extension allotted to the Agra Bear Rescue Facility. This facility managed by Wildlife S.O.S in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department is the largest Rehabilitation center in the world for rescued sloth bears spread now over an area of 160 acres near the Taj Mahal in Agra.

How you can help?

-Don't pay money to street performers working with wild animals, like bears, monkeys and snakes. For its only after you stop encouraging this form of entertainment will these street performers think of adopting alternative humane livelihoods.

-Spread the message around- Educate friends and family and sensitize them to issues pertaining to exploitation of animals in Street Entertainment.

-Set a bear free: Support the bears rescued from the 'Dancing Bear' trade where these bears are given the best of medical treatment and care and they all now spend their time frolicking in the ponds, smacking on honey and fresh fruits, climbing trees, playing and having fun and living their lives the way they should be as bears and not objects of entertainment! 2000 $ rehabilitates a Kalandar and rescues a Bear.

-Wildlife S.O.S is also involved in scientific conservation research including habitat conservation where agricultural land bordering forests is purchased and returned to nature 25$ helps buy and protect 500 square feet of Bear habitat

-Don't purchase artifacts, products made of bear hair, claws etc. Sloth Bears are also killed for their gall bladder; their bile is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Bear cubs are exported to South East Asian countries and killed for Bear Paw Soup.

-If you have any information about any illegal trade and exploitation of wild animals, please contact us at the e-mail and mobile no. mentioned below.Your identity would be kept confidential.

-To make an online contribution to support Wildlife S.O.S, please visit, http://www.wildlifesos.org/Donation/donationhome.htm

For more information on Wildlife S.O.S's Dancing Bear Rescue, Rehabilitation and Conservation Efforts and Kalandar Community Rehabilitation Programme, please contact Wildlife S.O.S (contact details below).

Dates Referenced September 2007
Contact Details

Wildlife SOS - India
D-210, Defence Colony
New Delhi
India-110024

Telephone : +91-11-24621939, 24651440 
Fax : +91-11-41550480

Mobile No. +91-9810114563

Wildlife SOS - USA
406 E. 300 S #302
Salt Lake City
Utah-84111
USA

Website Address

http://www.wildlifesos.org/

Email

Wildlife SOS India: wsos@vsnl.com; info@wildlifesos.org 
Wildlife SOS USA: info@wildlifesosusa.org

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