(By NGS Contributor Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul)
I’m sharing this piece that I edited or really paraphrased for Wildlife SOS regarding this eventful news. I didn’t want to change this in a stylistic sense because Vinay (Wildlife SOS India) and Nikki (Wildlife SOS USA), who shared the original story with me this morning from India really captured the essence of the chaos that ensued following a village’s encounter with a wild sloth bear. It is another common tragedy of the human-wildlife interface in the developing world. These villagers do not hate bears or elephants, they just become understandably concerned when these creatures threaten their families and their livelihoods.
I also want to remind you that even when you prepare for these events to the best of your best ability, you can’t always predict what will happen with dangerous/injurious wildlife and sloth bears are by no means an exception. In fact, I commend the villagers and our staff for putting their lives on the line in effort to return this return this bear to a more wild place, if one still exists. http://wildlifesos.org/blog/rescue-wild-sloth-bear-village-near-agra
By Jordan Carlton Schaul and Vinal Datla
A call about a wild bear in Shikohabad, which is 75 kilometers from the Agra bear rescue facility was received by Dr. Ilyaraja at 9:00 am this morning. His rescue team was deployed to a Jamali pur village. It took 2 hours for the team to reach the village, where an adult sloth bear was discovered in the middle of a dry storm drain. It was very dark inside the drain, which was estimated to be around 40 feet in length. Without a long a torch in our rescue kit, the villagers used a mirror and directed the sun into the storm drain.
With a transport cage and a net available, Dr. Ilyaraja decided to cover the dry storm drain on one end with the cage and the other end with the net. Dr. Ilyaraja managed to dart the bear through the netting as planned. After waiting about 15 minutes for the drug to take effect, Satyender went into the storm drain with a long stick and tested the bear’s response. The bear still conscious started moving backwards towards the cage. We all thought the rescue was a success as the bear moved into the cage, but suddenly the villagers shouted “Balu aa gaya.”(Bear has come). The bear, spooked by something or someone ran towards the other end right toward Satyender, who narrowly escaped a direct encounter with the frightened sloth bear. The bear reached the net and broke free. The villagers who were responsible for holding the net got scared by the force of the angry sloth bear, dropped the net and ran away. The bear was left tangled in the net. Raj kumar, and Veeru bravely and boldy managed to hold on to the net to contain the bear while Dr. Ilyaraja attempted to dart the bear again. Unfortunately, he missed, which happens when one tries to dart a bear in open spaces. The angry and aggressive bear managed to escape containment. At this point Dr Ilyaraja found himself face to face with the bear. He had dog-catcher in his hand and attempted to catch the bear. The bear almost attacked him, but ultimately ran away.