Feb 8, 2011
On Jan. 30, WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) rescued three more bears from bear baiting in Pakistan, and transported them to the newly-opened Balkasar Sanctuary.
For most of their lives, these three female bears – Bhoori (10), Leela (8) and Kaali (5) – were used in horrific bear baiting events, but they can now look forward to peaceful times in the sanctuary.
What is especially great about this rescue is that the bears’ owners, Ghulam Fareed, Muhammad Fazal and Maureed Hussain have agreed to new, cruelty-free livelihoods as part of the BRC’s Alternative Livelihood program. In exchange for handing over the bears, the BRC team has supplied each owner with a general store to run and agreed to support their children’s education – all in an effort to ensure that the former owners do not resort back to bear baiting as a source of income.
Immediately after the handovers took place, Bhoori, Leela and Kaali were transported to Balkasar, where the staff carefully removed the rings that pierced the bears’ sensitive muzzles, cut away the leashes that wound tightly around their necks, and treated their wounds.
The bears are now in quarantine and, within a month, will join the other bears at Balkasar.
Leela’s name means “play” but for this 8-year-old brown bear, life has been anything but playful. As a young bear, her front teeth were removed and claws were cut in preparation for bear baiting.
At first, Leela appeared to be strong and active, but it quickly became clear that she is either blind or severely vision-impaired. Because of this, baiting was likely a very terrifying experience for this defenseless bear.
Leela’s owner was Muhummad Fazal, a 60-year-old married man with four children. He agreed to hand over Leela in exchange for working at a general store, so that his family could settle in one place with financial stability.
Kaali, which translates to “black,” is a 5-year-old Asiatic black bear and, for almost half her life, she was used in bear baiting events. All of Kaali’s canine teeth were removed when she was younger – a procedure that was likely performed without anesthetic and caused immense pain for this young bear.
Smaller than her two companions, she is very active and also more aggressive.
Kaali was owned by 25-year-old Mureed Hussain. Hussain lives with his parents and siblings, and agreed to hand over Kaali so that he could settle in one place. He now owns a general store, a popular alternative livelihood that provides a source of income and employment for the whole family.
Bhoori, whose name means “brown,” is a 10-year-old brown bear. For the last 1½ years, she was used as “entertainment” in bear baiting events. Like Leela and Kaali, several of Bhoori’s teeth were pulled out when she was a young bear. The claws on her hind legs were also damaged during her captivity.
Bhoori’s owner was Ghulam Fareed, a 36-year-old married man with nine children. Like Leela’s owner, he gave up bear baiting for the increased security and stability of owning and running a general store. Education for his large family was also an incentive in persuading Fareed to hand over Bhoori.
The rescue of Leela, Kaali and Bhoori is a great start to the year. However, there are still approximately 70 more bears fighting for their lives in bear baiting events in Pakistan. Find out more on bear baiting >>