WSPA celebrates better future for India's bears

An ex-dancing sloth bear rests inside a cement pipe at a dancing bear sanctuary in Bilaspur, India.

An ex-dancing sloth bear rests inside a cement pipe at a dancing bear sanctuary in Bilaspur, India.

WSPA's 17 years of bear protection work in India and our part in ending the cruelty of bear dancing was recognized by the Indian government today, as it announced a national action plan to safeguard bears.

The government worked with WSPA and other leading global and national organisations to create the comprehensive National Bear Conservation and Welfare Action Plan, designed to prevent cruelty to bears and protect wild populations.

WSPA Chief Executive Mike Baker praised the move: “It is inspiring to see that animals matter to people in India. We know that animals also matter to the planet – protecting them is vital to any successful response to the biggest issues of our time, from disasters and climate change, to stable food supplies and good health.”

Putting bears in their place

The national plan elevates India’s bears to their rightful place as treasured wild animals, alongside tigers and elephants.

It will be welcomed by the public: according to research unveiled by WSPA India today, 84 per cent of Indians believe preventing cruelty to wild animals is important.

Within its broad powers, the plan will help prevent the re-emergence of bear dancing – a cruelty that begins with the poaching of cubs and which has been the focus of WSPA’s work in India for nearly 20 years.

It is a suffering that WSPA and the Wildlife Trust of India - and our supporters - are proud to have played a significant role in ending, in part by working with forestry officials to providing anti-poaching training to over 400 government forestry staff and volunteers who can now protect bears in the wild.

A success story for bears and people

With the government backing bears, WSPA is announcing the completion of our successful alternative livelihoods program, run in partnership with the Wildlife Trust of India.

This sustainable approach assisted Kalandars – traditional dancing bear owners – to identify new livelihoods and to establish stable incomes, send their children to school and turn their backs on animal cruelty for good. Watch the wonderful stories of Sher, Aslam, Mohammed and Aziz >>

Now nearly 400 bears rescued from lives ‘of dancing’ are receiving world-class, life-long care for their physical and mental scars in centres managed by Wildlife SOS, International Animal Rescue and Free the Bears, in partnership with the Indian government.

WSPA India: from strength to strength

In no small part, thanks to WSPA supporters, India’s bears have a far brighter future. But many other animals still need our help.

WSPA India is working tirelessly to replicate our success in other areas of animal need.

We will collaborate with government, communities and organizations to improve animals’ lives in India by:

  • stopping the pain of individual animals caught up in disasters 
  • supporting dog vaccination as the only effective rabies response 
  • putting animals at the heart of farming.

Will you work with us?

You can do so much to support WSPA India’s mission today:

  • share the good news about bears – forward this story or post on Facebook
  • Watch and share the full length Dance To Forget documentary. 
  • Help WSPA to continue with our important work in other parts of Asia to free bears from cruelty and exploitation. 
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