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On 30 January, our colleagues in Pakistan, at WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC), rescued three more bears from the Layyah district, Punjab in Pakistan and have been taken to the newly opened Balkasar Sanctuary.
For most of their lives, these three female bears: Bhoori (10 years old), Leela (8 years old) and Kaali (5 years old) have been used in bear baiting events, but now they can look forward to peaceful times in the sanctuary.
What is especially great about all this rescue is that the bears’ owners, Ghulam Fareed, Muhammad Fazal and Maureed Hussain have accepted the alternative livelihood package. All three Kalandars live, with their families, in very poor conditions. The BRC team has supplied them each with a general store to run and agreed to support their children’s education as well.
Once Bhoori, Leela and Kaali got to the sanctuary, the rings that pierced their sensitive muzzles were carefully removed, the leashes that had been wound tightly around their necks were cut away and any wounds were treated. They are now in quarantine and within a month will hopefully join the other bears at Balkasar.
Ten-year old Bhoori’s name means brown and she is a Brown bear.
Like Leela and Kaali several of Bhoori’s teeth were pulled out when she was a young bear. The claws on her hind legs have also been damaged during her captivity.
For the last one and a half years, as often as possible, she was used as ‘entertainment’ in bear baiting events by her owner.
Eight-year old Leela’s name means play, but for this eight year old brown bear life has been anything but playful.
As a young bear her front teeth were removed and the claws of her hind limbs cut in preparation for the ‘sport’ she would be forced to take part in.
At first, Leela appeared to be strong and active, but it quickly became clear that she is blind or severely vision-impaired. Baiting would have been a terrifying experience for this beautiful bear.
Five-year old Kaali’s name means black and she is an Asiatic black bear. For almost half her life she’s been used in bear baiting events.
Smaller than her two companions she is very active and also more aggressive.
All of Kaali’s canine teeth have been removed – a procedure that was most likely performed without anaesthetic, causing her immense pain.
The rescue of Leela, Kaali and Bhoori is a great start to the year for everyone. Nevertheless, there are still around 70 bears fighting for their lives in bear baiting events in Pakistan.