Sep 14, 2011
Our recent celebrations following news of the three new bears rescued from the horrors of bear baiting have sadly been short-lived. We are devastated to tell you that Sawan and Azad, the two male bears, have died while in quarantine at Balkasar Sanctuary. Due to the difficult security issues and current political situation in Pakistan, we’ve only just been advised of this tragedy and wanted to let you know straight away.
After arriving at the sanctuary, Azad, Sawan and Nita, who is still in good health and continues on her path to full recovery, were kept in the quarantine area. They were closely monitored by Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) staff to ensure that they were healthy and settled before being released into the open grounds of the sanctuary, to join the other bears.
While staff kept a close eye on the bears, Azad and Sawan started to show signs of pre-existing conditions. Despite being given special nutrients to build their immune system and the best efforts of the vets, both bears died within days of each other.
It has been established that both bears suffered conditions that may be attributed to the malnutrition and severely inadequate conditions they endured during their life of captivity and bear baiting, before they were rescued and brought to the sanctuary.
Even with the best possible treatment and care, sadly many bears rescued from a life of baiting do not reach old age, as they are prone to weak immune systems and underlying medical conditions sustained from their previous lives.
BRC staff have to check the health, disposition and suitability of any new arrival at the Sanctuary, before releasing them into the main enclosure.
There is a rigorous quarantine regime to avoid the risk of new bears passing on any pre-existing health problems they might have to the bears already housed in the sanctuary. Quarantine allows sufficient time for the symptoms of any disease not immediately identified to become evident, and also allows the closest possible monitoring of the bears’ health.
The vets at BRC have carried out thorough analysis, to determine the cause of death and also to ensure there is no danger of any disease being passed to the other Balkasar residents, especially Nita, who was rescued at the same time. They ran extensive blood profiling tests while the bears were still alive, in order to rule out all possibilities, including infections, parasitic diseases and even poisoning.
The Sanctuary’s resident vet was able to identify the most likely cause of death for Sawan as cardiovascular failure combined with liver problems and excessive bile stones. In Azad’s case, liver problems caused severe metabolic issues. Despite initial concerns that both bears may have had a common, possibly contagious disease, the sanctuary vet found no evidence of any such condition. They are further reassured by Nita’s continued good health.
While Azad and Sawan have now been laid to rest, buried deep in the grounds of the sanctuary, Nita continues to receive special attention in the quarantine area. She will soon be introduced to Chowti, the blind bear, in the introduction area before joining one of the main enclosures, as soon as she can safely be released from quarantine.
This tragic event highlights to us how important it is we reach these beautiful bears as quickly as possible and give them the best chance of survival. It’s so sad, that even after reaching the care and safety of the sanctuary, Sawan and Azad’s previous life of pain, suffering and misery, has still cost them their lives.
Although Sawan and Azad lives’ were tragically cut short, we are glad that Nita will soon be joining the other bears in the Sanctuary and we will keep you posted on her progress.
Thank you for continuing to support our work for the bears of Pakistan - together we can put an end to the cruelty and suffering they endure.