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A January training course has formed part of a package of measures to protect bear cubs from poachers in India’s Bihar region. WSPA and member society Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have given forest guards the skills they need to shield sloth bears from lifetimes of distress as ‘dancing’ bears.
Dancing bears live uncomfortable, unnatural lives, blighted by illness and removed from their wild environment. Approximately 150 bears are on the streets of India performing for their owners.
But thanks to this training, expertise in protecting bears and keeping them safe in their natural environment is now both deeper and wider in Bihar.
Nearly 150 of the Bihar Forest Department’s field staff, including forest guards and range officers working in protected areas, attended a first training course in 2007. January’s refresher course saw 50 new faces join them.
The two-day course, run by WTI’s Van Rakshak Project and funded by WSPA supporters, covered topics including:
Participants also received training in field crafts, enabling them to identify indirect evidence of animals (such as droppings and prints), patrol more effectively and learn crime investigation and prevention techniques.
Frontline forest department staff were able to study the wildlife crime situation in their state
Dr Rakesh Kumar Singh, WTI’s Training Coordinator, explains the need for the course: "Most field staff do not have access to information about developments in wildlife scenarios and the law; the training we organised in May 2007 was perhaps the first focussed and intensive course for them.
“In the refresher training we updated their understanding, going a notch higher in terms of the information imparted."
WSPA and WTI’s Sloth Bear Conservation and Welfare Project is a holistic programme that seeks to protect every bear it possibly can.
Throughout 2009, the joint project will concentrate on:
In the Bihar region, six Kalandars have now been given funds and ongoing assistance to set up and make a success of livelihoods that don’t involve animal cruelty. Read Tamanna’s story >>