Bannerghatta bears: Making way for freedom - The New Indian Express

Bannerghatta bears: Making way for freedom

Published: 12th November 2013 10:27 AM

Last Updated: 12th November 2013 10:29 AM

It is nothing new, sloth bears succumbing to the dreaded tuberculosis infection at Bannerghatta Biological Park. Out of 104 wild and captive bears that once found a home at this Park, 22 have died. The surviving 85 bears which were rescued from Khallandars have been kept at the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre amidst a natural grassland environment in and around a 50 acre fenced habitat and finally putting an end to the tradition of dancing bears in Karnataka and other parts of India.

Range Gowda, Chief Conservator of Forests and Executive Director (ED) of Bannerghatta Biological Park, said, “We have an NGO called Wildlife SOS who manage these rescued bears in a specialised way. A team headed by Veterinarian Arun A Sha who is working for the NGO along with two vets is taking care of the sloth bears. The NGO has been provided a small piece of land and further they can avail funds and donations to take care of the animals.”

Disease Management

Many of the rescued animals are old and infirm. Since they are captive animals, many have contracted TB infection. “Not all are infected. Now only a few have been found with the symptoms and therefore kept in isolation. But the detection of TB has been causing a major problem. Most of the bears were diagnosed with TB only after their death. Till then it could not be detected. TB is not a killer disease but it causes slow death,” says Range Gowda.

TB test among bears itself is not a confirmed procedure as sometimes, it become false positive and sometimes, false negative. “There was an incident where a sample was collected and the bear died just after one hour. But believe it or not, the result was negative. We also had around 22 bears from Purulia, West Bengal to the Biological Park because of the Maoist threat. But we were unable to detect whether they were infected or not,” says Range Gowda, who is happy the number of deaths due to TB had drastically come down.

“Right now we have no animal which has shown any signs of TB. In case, any bear is infected, we isolate them from the rest. The Rescue Centre here also has a hospital and clinic with trained doctors looking after their welfare,” he says.

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