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A better future: celebrating the end of bear dancing

WSPA’s 17 years of bear protection work in India and our part in ending the cruelty of bear dancing was recognized by the Indian government in November 2012, as it announced a national action plan to safeguard bears.

The government worked with WSPA and other leading global and national organizations to create the comprehensive National Bear Conservation and Welfare Action Plan, designed to prevent cruelty to bears and protect wild populations.

WSPA Chief Executive Mike Baker praised the move: “It is inspiring to see that animals matter to people in India. We know that animals also matter to the planet – protecting them is vital to any successful response to the biggest issues of our time, from disasters and climate change, to stable food supplies and good health.”

Putting Bears in their place

The national plan has elevated India’s bears to their rightful place as treasured wild animals, alongside tigers and elephants, and is backed by the public: according to research undertaken in 2012 by WSPA India, 84 per cent of Indians believe preventing cruelty to wild animals is important.

Within its broad powers, the plan seeks to help prevent the re-emergence of bear dancing – a cruelty that begins with the poaching of cubs and which has been the focus of WSPA’s work in India for nearly 20 years.

It is a suffering that WSPA and the Wildlife Trust of India – and our supporters – are proud to have played a significant role in ending, in part by working with forestry officials to providing anti-poaching training to over 400 government forestry staff and volunteers who can now protect bears in the wild.

A success story for bears and people

With the government backing bears, WSPA is announcing the completion of our successful alternative livelihoods program, run in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India.

This sustainable approach assisted Kalandars – traditional dancing bear owners – to identify new livelihoods and to establish stable incomes, send their children to school and turn their backs on animal cruelty for good. Watch the wonderful stories of Sher, Aslam, Mohammed and Aziz >>

Now nearly 400 bears rescued from lives ‘of dancing’ are receiving world-class, life-long care for their physical and mental scars in centers managed by Wildlife SOS, International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears, in partnership with the Indian government.

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