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Bears escape cruel ‘dancing’ destiny
Four sloth bears, including a cub, were rescued from a life spent ‘dancing’ by authorities in Nepal last week, acting on information provided by WSPA member society the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). The three adult bears had been trained to dance and were destined to be sold to Kalandars – nomadic bear owners – in India. This illegal cross-border wildlife trade in poached bears sells the animals into a lifetime of suffering, as they are forced into unnatural behaviors, become ill from poor diets, and often develop repetitive behaviors that indicate mental trauma. WTI and WSPA initiated the Integrated Sloth Bear Conservation and Welfare Project in 2005 to work towards the holistic conservation of sloth bears in India, by providing alternative livelihoods for Kalandars and ensuring that the bears do not endure a life of suffering.

Dancing bears: prevention not cure
Having trained over 800 forest department staff in anti-poaching methods, WSPA is focusing on crime-prevention and awareness in our efforts to end bear dancing. From finding and removing captive cubs from miserable lives as dancing bears, we have moved to ensuring they never leave the forest. While seizing captive cubs has been successful – the number of dancing bears performing in India has dropped from 400 to approximately 150 since 2005 – anti-poaching training helps prevent bears ever being captured. Alongside training in the prevention of wildlife crime, WSPA has provided an additional 375 anti-poaching personnel with equipment including flashlights and waterproofs.

Dancing bears in India begin new pain free life
The two bears received a second chance at life when their owners, known as Kalandars, approached The Sloth Bear Welfare and Conservation Project, a joint venture of WSPA and WTI, and agreed to hand over their captive bears in exchange for help and support in making new livelihoods for themselves. The project's goal is to ensure the phase-out and eventual eradication of dancing bears in India, where about 2000 dancing bears remain despite a government ban on the practice in 1998. Earlier this year WTI spent 2 months training Kalandars in Bhopal in how to make products such as detergent, liquid soap and incense sticks.

More good news for Vietnam's bears
After lengthy consultation with WSPA, the Vietnamese Government has introduced improved legislation for the protection and management of captive bears in Vietnam. This is a great sign that the government is sticking to its commitment to phase out bear bile farms in Vietnam and ensure that no more bears are introduced into this cruel industry. In a landmark agreement last year, the government of Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding with WSPA and began to gradually phase out bear bile farming in their country. The new regulations aim to further protect Vietnam‘s national bear population from rampant hunting for their galls and other organs.

Dramatic rescue saves cub from 'dancing'
In a dramatic rescue, a WSPA partner in India has freed a sloth bear cub from captivity as a “dancing” bear. In a daring undercover operation, our local partner the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) managed to secure the release of the 1-year-old cub in the state of Jharkand, following a tip-off from locals just days earlier. The employee then made the long road journey to the area where the cubs were being held and met with the informer to hatch a rescue plan. The team left the village to avoid endangering the informers and the cub was then given a medical checkup, before being released into the care of the forestry department.

Balkasar open for bears: Pakistan’s new WSPA-funded bear sanctuary
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. 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. Those bears will be brought to the Balkasar Sanctuary to live out their lives in a natural and peaceful environment.

Three surviving bears rescued from Pakistan floods
Residents of the villages surrounding the Kund Park sanctuary spotted these bears and alerted BRC staff to their presence. Despite the inaccessible roads and vague information on the location of the bears, staff from BRC bravely ventured into the flooded areas in search of these bears. Once they located the bears, they managed to tranquillize each bear and move it into a transport cage. Once sedated and in the transport cages, the bears – accompanied by a BRC veterinarian – were transported to Balkasar on trucks. The Balkasar sanctuary is still very much under construction, as it was designed to house bears that are yet to be rescued as part of WSPA and BRC’s continuing campaign against bear baiting.

WSPA moves new resident to bear sanctuary
The villagers who discovered the bear could trace no signs of its mother and they captured it with a view to sell it in the local market. Maylu was handed to local wildlife officials by the army, and the wildlife department did their best to care for the distressed bear. Talks began at the wildlife department of moving Maylu to a zoo – at this point WSPA heard about Maylu and quickly set the wheels in motion to receive the bear into the renowned Kund Park Bear Sanctuary. Following examination by WSPA veterinary staff the wildlife officials released the bear into WSPA custody and plans were laid to move the bear to Kund Park near the Peshawar region of Pakistan.

WSPA launches new website to educate Traditional Asian Medicine users on bear farming
More than 12,000 endangered Asiatic black bears are cruelly confined in bear farms, facilities at which many are kept in tiny cages and their bile is regularly extracted and sold for use in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM). WSPA has encouraged traditional medicine groups worldwide to support a statement agreeing that there are good herbal alternatives to bear bile - 71 traditional Asian medicine associations from eight countries have already expressed their support. The letters sent to retailers will include a link for retailers to learn more about bear farming and obtain a template letter (in English or Chinese) that they can use when contacting Chinese companies about their bear bile policies.

Korea displays commitment to end bear farming
The approval of this proposal is a compelling sign that the Korean government recognizes the need to end bear farming. Green Korea United and WSPA aim to work with officials from the Ministry of Environment to ensure the research project obtains all the evidence needed and that the research phase is completed as quickly as possible. A logical next step to this proposal would be to establish a ban on captive breeding of bears, meaning that no new bears will be born into a life of suffering on Korean bear farms. WSPA would like to see this happen as soon as possible and we hope to work with government officials for this.

Romania’s 52nd bear is rescued
They have safely moved him to the Zarnesti bear sanctuary, where he will now live alongside five other young bears. Brought to the guesthouse by local forestry workers, the bear – who is about one year old and called Tello – was kept in a 13x13-foot metal cage. A member of the public spotted and reported Tello’s captivity and a team comprised of the police, Fagaras County’s Association of Hunters and Fishermen and staff from the Zarnesti bear sanctuary organized his safe rescue. The pubic, authorities and media are now helping to ensure our message gets through to those people who may have previously considered keeping a bear.

WSPA urges Vietnam to stay on track to end bears suffering in bear farms
The fate of 80 illegally held and endangered Asiatic Black bears hangs in the balance as Vietnamese Authorities decide whether or not to remove them from cruel bear farms. In 2005 Vietnam announced their intention to phase out bear farming and introduced a law that stated any bears found without microchips in bear farms will be confiscated. Gosling added “An alarming new discovery has caused us even more concern as there seems to be a growing tourist industry around bear farming in the Quang Ninh province with tourists visiting the cruel farms to consume bear bile and meat and see demonstrations of the extraction process.

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