Two full-grown sloth bears were on Sunday rescued by forest officials from a village in Jharkhand following the intervention of politician-cum-animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi, officials said.
Sloth bears are protected under Schedule-1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This schedule covers endangered species. Schedule-1 and part 2 of Schedule 2 provide absolute protection — offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
A team of People for Animals (PFA), an animal welfare organisation founded by Maneka, got a tip-off that some “madaris” were roaming with two sloth bears in the villages of Nawadih block in Bokaro on Saturday morning.
Nomadic community members, popularly known as “madaris”, earn a living by performing street acts with animals.
“According to the information, we approached the forest department and local police station. Then, we reached Parasbani village in the evening to rescue the animals. The madaris, who might have already got information about us, escaped from the spot. We found that the sloth bears were tied to trees in the village,” PFA member Nischit Kumar, who was active in the operation, told PTI.
However, the forest department had to struggle a lot to rescue the animals.
Neither the department has any trained team of experts nor has arrangements for cages in Bokaro district. The animals were tied to trees overnight in absence of rescue arrangements, which angered Maneka, a senior official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.
Maneka reportedly called senior forest and district administration officials to rescue the animals at the earliest.
Divisional forest officer (DFO), Bokaro, A.K. Singh told PTI: “We contacted our senior bosses in Ranchi for the arrangement of cages from Ranchi’s Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park and send a team of experts. Then, the cages were sent from the zoo along with a team and the rescue operation was successfully done by Sunday afternoon.”
“Maneka-ji was not pleased with the operation initially. Later, she congratulated forest officials for their efforts and the successful rescue,” he said.
Singh said the sloth bears were transported to an animal rescue centre at Barwe in Ranchi.