Orissa tribal jailed for keeping a bear cub

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Bhubaneshwar, June 25 : A tribal man in the Rutsila hamlet of Orissa's Keonjhar District was arrested by wildlife officials for keeping a bear cub at his hut.

Ram Singh Munda was charged with violating the Wildlife Protection Act.

Munda's family, however, claimed that he had found the bear in a forest in poor health about a year-and-a-half ago. He brought the ailing cub home and started taking care of it.

After recovering, the cub refused to go to the jungle several times, preferring to stay at the Munda home.

Ram Singh and his family developed an attachment to the cub. Now, the family's shocked to find him jailed for actually saving it from dying.

Forest department officials, while admitting that the cub "Rani" was not caged or chained by Munda, alleged that he was still in violation of the wildlife law.

"We have rescued the bear and sent it to the Nadankanan Zoo," said Vishnucharan Behra, the Forest Ranger of Keonjhar District.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had some sympathetic words for the family, when he said: "Well, I understand that this matter is being examined, and as I said before, the district administration of Keojhar is looking after the needs of his (Ram Singh Munda's) daughter."

Ram Singh is currently out on bail.

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