Early on Thursday, a wildlife SOS rescue center in Karnataka received a call about an injured sloth bear in Ramanagara district on the outskirts of Bengaluru. As the team of doctors from Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Center reached Kabbal village to find the bear, they found him in excruciating pain due to internal injuries which, appallingly, were caused by an explosion in his mouth – a work, most likely, of bear poachers.
The team of doctors, who reached the site soon after receiving a call from the Divisional Forest Officer of Ramanagara district Vijay Kumar, rushed the critically injured bear back to the rescue center where he was traquilized for medical examination. The explosion had resulted in a severe internal fracture, causing the bear’s jaws to displace into his skull.
“The male sloth bear is about 6 to 7 years old and has suffered massive injury and internal damage to his mouth, head and neck regions…The animal’s condition is grave and we are keeping it under close observation,” Dr. Arun. A. Sha, who led the Wildlife SOS rescue team, said in a statement.
The explosive used was a crude, country made device often used by poachers to kill bears. These bombs are concealed in food and used to bait the animals, who are tricked into biting them. The animals suffer severely critical injurier and they usually die a slow, painful death as poachers wait around to collect their prize.
Sloth bears, an endangered species in India, are most commonly poached for their gall bladders which are used for traditional Chinese medicine. Their claws, teeth and fur are also popular as aphrodisiacs. Poachers often illegally trade these to countries like China and the Koreas. If convicted, the poachers could be punished with a sentence of between 3 to 7 years under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.