| Sedated bear cubs before being shifted to the new site. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, May 2: Three orphaned Asiatic black bear cubs were moved to the wild at the Manas National Park yesterday to be released in the wild later.
The cubs were found in three different villages on the fringes of the park by villagers in December and were handed over to the forest department, which handed them to the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust of India for rehabilitation. The mother of the cubs was probably killed.
The three are about a year old and were healthy and aggressive, indicating their wild nature.
“Normally, the cubs are hand-reared, and following a gradual acclimatisation process involving daily walks into the forest accompanied by animal keepers, released back into the wild,” Bhaskar Choudhury, an IFWA-WTI regional head, said.
Choudhury said the cubs are currently in an in-situ enclosure (pre-release site) in the Doimari range of the national park. “The cubs would be radio-collared and released from the enclosure. The cubs would be monitored post-release for a period of around six months with the help of radio-collars. We will be monitoring the cubs regularly till the right time for their final release in the wild,” he said.
The number of Asiatic black bear cub rescues in the region in recent times indicates a worrisome trend. Poaching for body parts, habitat degradation and conflicts with people are known to be among the major threats to bears in general.
The Asiatic black bear is classified as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species, and is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The IFAW-WTI has rehabilitated 31 Asiatic black bear cubs in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh till today.