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Freedom for bears in Pakistan

Apr 5, 2013

WSPA and our local partner in Pakistan, the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), have rescued two more bears – a female Himalayan brown bear named Lucia and a male Asiatic black bear named Vidaar.

Both bears were rescued in weak and starving conditions – Vidaar was identified as a priority bear in need of rescue in 2012. After many months of negotiations with his owner he agreed to give Vidaar his freedom. Vidaar had been used in baiting for nearly four years which caused a significant amount of injuries during matches. 

Lucia was unknown to the BRC and was discovered on a recent trip. She has been used for about a year in baiting. Bear baiting has taken a significant psychological toll on Lucia and on arrival at the sanctuary she was incredibly fearful and distressed by the site of people and cowered in her cage.

The good news is, Vidaar and Lucia are now in quarantine at the Balkasar bear sanctuary and once recovered from their injuries they will join the current residents, living out the remainder of their lives in the beautiful grass land enclosures in Pakistan.

Since 1997 WSPA and the BRC have helped reduce the number of bears being used in the brutal ‘sport’ of baiting to around 50. A key part of this success has been the alternative livelihood (AL) programme run by dedicated BRC staff.

This program helps people help animals. It gives bear owners a new, sustainable source of income in exchange for the freedom of their bear and is crucial for bringing a permanent end to the culture of bear baiting in Pakistan. The AL team help a bear owner choose an alternative profession with the aim of providing him and his family with a steady and sustainable source of income.


UPDATE: 


WSPA is saddened to report that Lucia has passed away at the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary. After years of trauma and being severely malnourished from use in bear baiting, Lucia appears to have already been fighting chronic disease in her lungs, pancreas and liver prior to her arrival at the sanctuary.

 

Our veterinary team immediately diagnosed her poor health, as well as another infection and started medical treatment. After initial improvements in health thanks to the excellent care by BRC staff, sadly the underlying chronic illness was too much for her weakened body to fight.

 

Both WSPA and BRC staff are devastated by the loss of Lucia but we will continue to help rescue the remaining bears trapped in this cruel practice and provide the best care for the 21 bears that are happily living at the sanctuary. 

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