In May this year, Dr Ilayaraja, a Wildlife SOS India veterinarian, was alerted that a young wild male sloth bear had been spotted in a village near Shikohabad in Uttar Pradesh. The villagers had attempted to chase away the bear by pelting him with stones. When the Wildlife SOS team arrived at the scene to rescue the distressed and visibly exhausted bear, they found he had retreated into the safety of a 40 feet long storm drainpipe. After tranquilizing the bear, they transported him to the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Facility where he was housed in a special quarantined enclosure and looked after.
On 4th July, the bear was radio-collared and released into Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. The young sloth bear has, so far, been doing well within the sanctuary, steering clear of all human habitations.
More than 80% of the world’s sloth bears are in India. They are shy and secretive bears, who feed mainly on ants and termites, and occasional fleshy fruits, but they are feared for their aggressiveness. The threats faced by the sloth bear are depressingly familiar and include: direct retaliatory killing by humans, habitat destruction and degradation, and poaching for gall bladder, claws, skin, and bones. The declining bear population now increasingly occurs in fragmented and isolated forest patches within human-dominated landscapes.
Further details and pictures, along with a video of the bear running from his crate into the forest, can be found on the Mongabay web site.