Sep 9, 2011
There has been exciting news from Pakistan – three more bears have been recently rescued from the horrors of bear baiting, and brought to the safety of the WSPA-funded Balkasar Sanctuary.
Two male bears, one called Azad, meaning ‘free’ and the other Sawan, meaning ‘month of love’ and a female bear called Nita, meaning ‘moral’ are now enjoying the safety of the Sanctuary
All three bears spent the first few years of their lives being forced to fight at cruel bear baiting events, but now they are being treated for their injuries and are preparing to join Chowti, Bhoori, Kaali and Leela to enjoy a future of freedom and security at Balkasar Sanctuary.
WSPA’s local partners, the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), worked for many months in the Sindh and Punjab provinces, meeting with local landlords and Kalandars, to try and persuade them to hand over the bears they use in baiting in exchange for an alternative livelihood.
Despite threats and objections from the very powerful landlords in the area, who also control and host the lucrative bear baiting events, they were finally successful in the district of Muzaffergarh – freeing Sawan, Nita and Azad and transferring them to Balkasar.
Alternative livelihoods – complete with investment, training and support – were provided to the families of Ajmal (who owned Sawan) and Zarwar (who owned Azad and Nita), to ensure that they would not consider reverting to bear baiting.
In exchange for their bears, this initiative aims to support former bear owners to thrive in new alternative livelihoods that are sustainable and animal friendly, ensuring that more bears are not poached from the wild to be used in this cruel blood sport.
These livelihoods (such as household wares shops and grocery stores) are selected after extensive research of the local market and dialogue with former bear owners, and are carefully selected to meet their needs and capabilities. BRC trains each former bear owner and follows their progress for as long as required to ensure success.
There are now ten bears being looked after at the Balkasar Sanctuary, an astounding success considering that it is less than a year since the sanctuary was opened.
It is amazing to see their transformation as they slowly recover from a life of brutal captivity and for the first time in their lives, enjoying just being a bear within the natural surroundings and safety of the Sanctuary.
This has all been made possible thanks to the support and generosity of WSPA supporters.
Continued support is so important in helping us end bear baiting and rescuing the remaining bears still suffering in these horrifying baiting events – we know there are at least 60 more that need our help!
Thank you for your amazing support!