Nov 1, 2010
A new WSPA-funded sanctuary to house Pakistan’s remaining baiting bears has now officially opened.
Its first residents are Babu, Sohrab and Maylu – the three bears rescued from Kund Park, which was destroyed during the floods in August. The sanctuary will also provide a refuge for the remaining 60-70 Asian black bears in Pakistan who are still being used in bear baiting, a cruel and illegal blood sport.
Balkasar Sanctuary sits away from flood plains and close to the country’s capital, Islamabad. WSPA and Bioresource Research Center (BRC), our Pakistani member organization, selected the location for its many natural aspects of a bear’s habitat, including more than 16 acres of trees and long grass.
"It provides space for all the remaining bear baiting bears in Pakistan and is a model project to show wildlife authorities how bears in sanctuaries should be managed," says Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas, BRC Chief Executive.
Since the floods destroyed Kund Park, Pakistan’s only other refuge for baiting bears, Balkasar has assumed an even greater importance.
Its opening demonstrates the dedication and commitment of the BRC and Kund Park staff who - despite losing their homes and possessions, like so many Pakistanis - have remained committed to the cause. Many of the staff members and their families have even moved to Balkasar to rebuild their lives, as well as the lives of the bears in their care.
With WSPA support, BRC plans to rescue another three bears from baiting before the end of this year. Those bears will be brought to the Balkasar Sanctuary to live out their lives in a natural and peaceful environment.
"Thanks to WSPA donors, the new Balkasar Sanctuary allows us to provide space for all remaining bear baiting bears," says Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, WSPA Veterinary Wildlife Programs Manager. “Together, with the dedicated and professional work of BRC, I am very optimistic that we will succeed in ending this cruel practice, once and for all."