Organic farm grows carrots for Balkasar bears
Bears at the Balkasar bear sanctuary in Pakistan have been having a fantastic time munching on tasty organic carrots thanks to your support
The Balkasar sanctuary was established to provide a safe home for bears rescued from ‘bear baiting’ and ‘bear dancing’ with the aim of ending these cruel forms of entertainment. As more and more bears continue to call the sanctuary home, our partner that runs the sanctuary, the Bioresource Research Centre of Pakistan (BRC), needs more nutritious and delicious food for them.
The 56 sanctuary bears need the most nutritious food possible to help them recover from their horrific baiting and dancing ordeals and the farm is helping to give them just that. The Balkasar team are increasingly concerned about the use of fertilisers and chemicals by farmers in the region; so, growing their own crops is the obvious solution. Your generous donations helped them buy, irrigate and clear the land.
The carrots are the first harvest at the 4-acre organic farm you helped fund for our partner.
Aside from carrots, spinach, radishes, onions, squashes, brassica and maize – all important sources of dietary fibre – are being grown too. Other planned crops include neem trees. Neem is a natural bug repellent to protect the bears from insect bites, and flax seeds. Nutritious flax is a major part of the bear’s diets and the oil from the flaxseeds keeps the bears’ coats glossy.
Madeeha Manzoor from the Bioresource Centre of Pakistan (BRC) says work is going well.
“Crops like maize, flax, and brassicas are helpful and not just in food terms," says Madeeha Manzoor, BRC zoologist. "We give the bears the whole plant to eat and so the eating process becomes an interesting and involving activity for them. It’s also great fun for us to watch them tussle with and eat entire maize stalks with great concentration and interest,” shares Madeeha.
Madeeha explains that crops have always been grown on a small scale at Balkasar and other products have been sourced locally and as safely as possible. Wheat, for example, the main ingredient of much of the bears’ food is sourced from an organic farm in Rajanpur, Sindh Province. But thanks to your ongoing support, the customized farmland means the bears will get even more organic food.
“This farm is a wonderful gift to the bears,” says Madeeha. “It was great fun to see them enjoying the first carrots and really rewarding for the sanctuary team to see the crops growing after all of their work, clearing, ploughing and irrigating the land.”