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Undercover bear baiting footage reveals corruption
Disturbing footage taken in July by WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) has proven that bear baiting events are taking place in Punjab and resulted in the investigation of wildlife officials for corruption. For two years, the Punjab Department of Wildlife and Parks has denied that bear baiting takes place in the region, refusing to accept BRC’s continuous undercover investigations into this illegal activity. This time they attended a baiting undercover to gather indisputable proof that this blood sport – which makes landowning hosts wealthy – continues. Attempting to remove bears during or immediately after a baiting event is dangerous – those with an interest in the profits may be armed.

New facility offers special care for baited bears
An up-to-date clinic made possible by a generous supporter is now enabling staff at a WSPA-funded sanctuary in Pakistan to give rescued bears the very best care and treatment. It currently provides veterinary care and a safe haven for 22 bears formerly used for baiting. Bear baiting is a savage blood sport in which dogs are set upon a tethered and defenseless bear. Mellun had been rescued from a landlord who had used him in baiting events for six years. Thousands of key religious leaders have denounced baiting as un-Islamic and so far 235 landlords – who run the events – have given it up.

A convert from cruelty: former baiter gives up last bear
WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Center of Pakistan (BRC) has seen its persistence and professionalism pay off again this month, as a former bear baiter gave his last remaining bear the chance of a better life at the Kund Park sanctuary. BRC’s effective local landlord networking approach had convinced Sufi Muhammad Rafique – once one of the most determined bear baiting organizers in Sindh province – to turn his back on this brutal sport in 2005. The BRC’s landlord networking team works by putting landlords who are against bear baiting – usually because Islam explicitly criticizes animal cruelty – in touch with those who still enable the sport, letting peer-to-peer discussions lay the foundation for removing the bears.

Member society’s dedication saves cubs from bear baiting
Their own safety was threatened as they rescued two bear cubs from poachers in Pakistan. In the same month, the dangers inherent in their vital work inspired BRC to hold a ceremony applauding the wildlife department field staff that work alongside them; some of whom have been tortured as they protected bear welfare. Sukkur is an area of Pakistan with a very high density of bear baiting events, but Wildlife Division staff are making life increasingly difficult for the landlords organizing bear baiting events. The field staff promised to keep going despite all the dangers, demonstrating what can only be called exceptional commitment to animal welfare.

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.

Local networking saves bears from cruel contest
WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre Pakistan (PBRC) prevented a bear baiting event in February 2008, saving two bears from multiple violent attacks by powerful dogs. WSPA and PBRC’s local networking program enabled them to enlist support against the powerful landlords who arranged the event. Landlords stand to make large profits from bets placed on the bloody contests, despite this cruelty being illegal in Pakistan and contrary to religious teachings. The landlords own only the dogs used in baiting events, so Saad appealed directly to the bear owners. The two bears which seemed destined to suffer ripped muzzles and multiple wounds are now settling into a new life the Kund Park Bear Sanctuary.

WSPA announces new Director General
Peter’s retirement marks the end of a very successful chapter for the organization, during which WSPA saw massive growth and development – not just in size, but in capacity and ability to influence policy and legislation worldwide. Peter Davies said, “When I reflect on my time here, there is much WSPA has to be proud of – not least our creation of this truly global animal welfare movement. Today, WSPA has a presence in over 150 countries around the world and the commitment displayed by every member of this alliance has allowed for some truly impressive achievements – the sound of so many voices speaking on individual issues has been a powerful tool for advancing global animal welfare.” Through partnership with hundreds of member societies we strive to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends.

Three new bears at Balkasar Sanctuary
WSPA and partner Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) are happy to report that three female Asiatic black bears have been rescued from the savage blood “sport” of bear baiting. Sihu, Zilla and Rene are all currently in quarantine, but they will soon join the 13 other residents in the sanctuary, where they can walk in spacious grassy enclosures, climb trees and swim in fresh ponds for the first time in their lives. WSPA and BRC are working to save these bears from cruelty, as well as provide their former owners with new, animal-friendly sources of income through the Alternative Livelihood program – an essential part of our efforts to sustainably end bear baiting. The generosity of WSPA donors is crucial to saving these bears from cruelty and ending this brutal practice once and for all.

Sanctuary Life is Good: An Update on the Three Rescued Bears at Balkasar
Many supporters were moved by the story of Leela, Kaali and Bhoori – the three bears that were rescued from bear baiting and moved to Balkasar Sanctuary in January. We are happy to report that the bears have now been moved out of quarantine and are adapting well to their lives in the sanctuary. She was very quiet and subdued when she arrived at the sanctuary and – as is common with bears used in baiting – her teeth and hind claws had been removed. We think this could be because she was always hungry and thirsty as a baited bear – her owners didn’t really understand how much she needed to eat and drink.

Four bears saved in latest local network success
The network includes former organizers of bear baiting events – locally influential people who have been convinced to give up this bloody sport and support our work. Just after BRC and the Punjab Wildlife Department managed to prevent a separate bear baiting event – these are banned in Pakistan but still occur – BRC’s field team received a report of four bears being held in two villages in the vicinity. In exchange for the bears the families received support in starting up an alternative livelihood – running motorcycle rickshaws – which will provide a steady income and prevent them from having to return to the bear baiting business. All four bears are now recovering and enjoying the natural enclosures and adequate diet provided at the sanctuary.

A new bear at Balkasar
Just a few weeks ago, Chowti, an Asiatic black bear, was tied up and attacked by dogs who bit and mauled her while people watched for entertainment. The six-year-old bear suffered her last bear baiting event just hours before she was rescued and brought to Balkasar sanctuary last week. Because she is blind, Chowti won’t be able to see the daylight when the shutters go up in the quarantine area – she’ll have to rely on her senses of smell and touch to find her way out. As for Fida Hussain, he will have to find a new way to support himself – alone.

World Society for the Protection of Animals Recommended for General consultative status at the United Nations
WSPA was the only organization recommended for such designation during the current session, and once formalized, will become the only international animal welfare organization with this status. Consultative status provides NGOs with access to not only ECOSOC, but also to its many subsidiary bodies, to the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, as well as special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. General consultative status is reserved for large international NGOs whose area of work covers most of the issues on the agenda of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. These tend to be fairly large, established international NGOs with a broad geographical reach.

Listen to an interview with WSPA's bear expert!
Listen to an interview with WSPA's bear expert! Listen as renowned international bear expert and WSPA Wildlife Advisor Victor Watkins discusses his unique and exciting work rescuing bears around the world. Watkins discussed his and WSPA's work to rescue bears from cruelty and exploitation, as well as the welfare needs still facing bears today. Watkins also talked about WSPA's continuing work to bring an end to some of the cruelest practices on earth including bear baiting, bear farming, and the exploitation of captive bears for entertainment purposes. This is a great chance for supporters who are unable to attend Watkins' United States speaking tour to hear our bear expert live!

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