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Pakistan’s Balkasar sanctuary now welcomes its newest and perhaps most delicate resident, Chowti, recently saved from the horrors of further bear baiting events.
Thanks to the efforts of WSPA’s Pakistani member organisation, Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), the 6-year old blind Asiatic black bear was recently rescued right after an horrific baiting event, and is now recovering from her wounds and enjoying the serenity of a spacious new enclosure.
Chowti’s vulnerable state and unfamiliarity with the bears already resident at Balkasar means that, for the moment, she has her own 5-acre enclosure, which she is getting to terms with exploring – and enjoying.
Although it took 40 minutes for the bear to move out of her quarantine area into the main enclosure, due to her blindness and terrible previous life experience, she was eventually coaxed out with some food into her spacious new home.
BRC’s Chief Executive Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas described the release of Chowti into her first ever home free from fear and torture. “At first she was very hesitant, only coming into the enclosure with a trail of food and would not go deep within, preferring to stay close to the periphery. Though there was no real tangible obvious gesture, I could just sense the change in Chowti, seeing her for the first time walking without any chain, wound or restriction, savouring her first real bite of freedom in her life”.
Chowti took time to timidly explore her new home using her sense of smell to familiarise herself and sticking to structures and borders.
The enclosure has been designed to contain as many features and comforts of a bear’s natural habitat as possible; an unimaginably rich environment for a deprived bear like Chowti. The enclosure features two pools and around one-hundred small trees amongst which the bear can cool off from the Pakistani heat, both man-made and natural climbing structures to explore, and shaded areas made from dried grass which Chowti is using to make her bedding with.
Though Chowti now has the possibility to forage for food, at present her diet is fully provided by Balkasar staff who are feeding her with a varied diet of lentils, different grains, aniseed, millet, potatoes, apples, corn, chicken, carrots, sugar cane and boiled eggs. Staff say that the bear has developed a great interest in exploring acacia shrubs.
Although Chowti remains alone for the moment, getting to terms with her new surroundings, staff expect that she will soon be joined by other bears, also rescued from a life of bear baiting in Pakistan.