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TBI Blogs: Meet Mowgli, the 10-Week-Old Sloth Bear Cub Rescued From Poachers’ Trap in Madhya Pradesh

Over the years, the population of sloth bears in the wild has been threatened due to loss of habitat and poaching, making them a vulnerable species, protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Recently, a 10-week-old bear cub was rescued after its mother was electrocuted by high tension wires in Madhya Pradesh.

Spread across 467 sq. kms. of undulating plains and deciduous forests, the Sanjay-Dubri National Park, located in the Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh, is blessed with a rich population of diverse wildlife species. Earlier this month, a female sloth bear, followed closely by her tiny 10-week-old baby, set out for the day in their quest for food, only to find themselves near an agricultural land located off the reserve.

As anthropogenic pressure on their natural habitat depletes the food available to them in the forest, animals like wild boar, nilgai, and sloth bears often venture out to the remote villages bordering the reserve in search of fruits and berries grown by the villagers. Seeing this as a means to get easy access to wild animals and target them, a group of poachers had set up high-tension wires along the side of these fields.

In her curiosity to explore the new surroundings, and her desperation to feed herself to sustain her still milk-dependent cub, the unsuspecting mother bear walked right into this barbaric death trap.The impact from the high-voltage electric wire jolted through her and immediately paralysed the mother from the waist down, while the cub miraculously survived, despite minor burns on his forehead and back. When the Forest Department rushed to the location after being alerted by concerned villagers, they were met with a heart-wrenching sight.

The hungry and terrified baby bear still clutched his dying mother desperately, struggling to nurse from her.

The baby bear clinging to his severely injured mother.

The forest officials carefully separated the injured and traumatised cub from the mother so that they could transfer both bears to a treatment centre for immediate veterinary care. They also called in the Wildlife SOS team from nearby Bhopal to try to save the lives of this family. Sadly, the female bear’s injuries were so severe that she succumbed the next morning, leaving her traumatised cub orphaned, but in the care of her rescuers.

Upon further investigation, sniffer dogs brought to the scene of the crime followed the trail of the poachers and led the investigators to their doorstep. The investigators found six poachers, with the tools for the deadly trap, and they confessed to the crime. The authorities have since arrested all of them under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Sloth bears are a “vulnerable” species, in danger from habitat loss and poaching.

They have the highest degree of protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The 10-week-old bear cub shortly after his rescue.

Following a Forest Department order, the baby bear transferred to the Wildlife SOS Agra Bear Rescue Facility in Uttar Pradesh. The facility has specialised medical and weaning facilities to provide care for young animals.

The baby bear arrives at the Wildlife SOS centre.

The staff are currently hand-rearing Mowgli, as they lovingly call him. He is on a diet of special milk formula and multivitamin supplements, as he still can’t ingest solid food.

He is eating well, and has even put on a few pounds.

Wildlife SOS bear-keeper feeding the cub at the centre.

It will take a considerable amount of time for Mowgli to fully recover from this painful and traumatic experience. But, the organisation’s dedicated veterinarians and keepers are there for him every step of the way. They will give him all the love and care possible, to help him grow into a happy and healthy bear.

Help Wildlife SOS raise this cub and other rescued animals by donating online.

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