Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Released bear thrives in his new home

Back in the summer, a wild bear was reported to International Animal Rescue's partner in India as he had strayed near a village on his hunt for food. He was captured by Wildlife SOS and taken to the International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears funded sanctuary in Agra, where he was declared fit and well, and ready to be released somewhere safe, away from human habitation. First though, he was fitted with a radio collar, which was delivered in person by International Animal Rescue's chief executive, Alan Knight. This would allow the bear to be tracked by the team and provide valuable insights into the behaviour of wild bears, for the benefit of future rescued bears as well as our current residents.

Below is an update from the field team: 

The radio collared sloth bear was released back in Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh.  We call him SB01 for purpose of our record keeping and research.  Here's an update on what SB01 has been up to for the past few months.

The first few days after the release of the bear (SB01), the radio signals we received showed the bear moving in the north eastern direction of the dense forest in the Suhelwa Tiger Reserve.

Bear trackingHe remained in the same area for almost a week before he finally moved ahead closer to the border of the Tiger Reserve that shared boundaries with out neighboring country of Nepal. This got us a bit worried, knowing that Nats and other community poachers illegally trade bears into Nepal and kill them for their body parts. Our intelligence had confirmed presence of a lot of wire snares in Nepal and we were concerned.

Soon our bear SB01 crossed into the Nepal border and we lost all radio contact with him. With no radio signals our tracking team worked hard for over ten days climbing all the high points in the region trying to get a radio signal but didn't get any signal. Finally our field research team started gearing up for a visit to Nepal and meet with forest officials there to take their assistance in locating the bear, when one morning in August, much to our team's delight, we started receiving signals from the radio collar again.  Much to our relief, SB01 had crossed back into India and moved into West Suhelwa Range and away from the Indo-Nepal border.

It appear our bear SB01 is settling in well in the Suhelwa Tiger Reserve. The radio signals we are tracking indicate the bear is a densely forested area close to a large water reservoir, which we assume he selected due to the availability of food and the location being far away from human settlements.

The signals from bear SB01 also indicate deliberate avoidance of human settlements, which is a very positive sign.

Waiting for the signalOn one occasion, we received signal of the bear being 15 kms away from a village near Dagmara.  We are prepared for receiving reports from villagers who may sight the bear, but SB01 did not go any closer to the village and nobody has reported any bear sightings so far. Fingers crossed!
In early September, there were radio signals received that placed him an area near Raniyapur dam. Our team is in the field tracking the bear and we shall keep you updated on his adventures and movements. Thank you for your support.

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