Bears rescued from their "masters" find home in Agra

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Agra, Aug 12 (ANI): Around 270 bears have been rescued from their masters and are being looked after in a rehabilitation centre, situated 25 kilometres away from Agra.

An Indian support group is taking care of these bears, which were being used by nomadic tribes for entertainment across the country.

The sloth bears are rescued from 'madaaris' or nomads who trains and uses the animal for entertainments and rehabilitated at the centre in Agra, claimed to be the world's biggest.

To bring a full stop in the exploitation of these bears, the rehabilitation centre for them was established.

"We thought of solving the problems of the bear masters who are dependent on these animals for their livelihood and also help the bears who are surviving under torture. We came across only one solution and that was to teach the masters other sorts of work so that they are no more dependent on the bears. Meanwhile, we could provide the bears their natural habitat," said Kartikey Sharma, chairperson, Bear Rehabilitation Centre.

The Agra Bear Rescue Centre provides special facilities to the rescued animals to help them combat the scorching heat. Their dens are fitted with water coolers besides a number of artificial ponds and water tanks where it can enjoy themselves.

The centre also provides special light diet to the bears primarily consisting of sweet delights like watermelons and other kinds of melons to tide over the hot summer.

Meanwhile, the bear masters or 'madaaris' are also quite happy with their alternative jobs in the centre where they have submitted their bears and are earning relatively well.

"I used to be a bear master here but then I submitted my bear to this rehabilitation centre. Since then, I am working here without any tension. I earned rupees 50-100 daily for each play but now I am earning a salary of rupees 6,000," said Ashi, care taker of the bears in the rehabilitation centre.

India had banned using bear for entertainment under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. But nomads still keep and use bears for entertainments at fairs and festivals.

Sloth bears are one of the four types of bears found in India. They are also found in the lowland forests of Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The poachers hunt these omnivorous animals mainly for their gall bladder, which is believed to be a valuable ingredient of eastern medicine. Its population is considered to be vulnerable in India. (ANI)

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