[Reader-list] Bear facts

S. Jabbar sonia.jabbar at gmail.com
Thu Jun 26 10:04:28 IST 2008

 Heartbreak over cub confiscation
By Sanjaya Jena
BBC News, Bhubaneswar

A tribal man in India who rescued an abandoned bear cub to help his daughter
overcome her mother's death has fallen foul of forestry officials.

They confiscated the animal arguing that its capture was in contravention of
wildlife laws.

As a result, Ramesh Munda, 35, was briefly jailed and the bear was sent to a
zoo where some reports say it has refused to eat.

His daughter is now distraught over the loss of a "much-loved" family

Mutual affection

Mr Munda, who is also known as Ram Singh, rescued Rani almost two years ago
from the dense forest of Keonjhar in the eastern state of Orissa.

>From the moment the cub was recovered, both man and animal appeared to
develop an unusual bond of love.

Such was the level of affection between the bear and Mr Munda's family, that
the local press began to write stories about this rare example of mutual

But Orissa forestry department officials were not so sentimental.

Keonjhar district forest officials arrested and jailed him under the
Wildlife Protection Act and sent Rani to Nandankanan Zoological Park.

Now both man and animal are pining to be reunited, with the bear reportedly
refusing to eat any food.


Recently released on bail, Mr Munda is desperately looking for an
opportunity to visit Nandankanan and spend a few moments with Rani.

"I brought her up like my own daughter Gulki. I'm eager to meet her," he

Little Gulki, who spent her childhood with Rani, is also shedding tears over
the absence of her furry friend.

She has now been reunited with her father after his time in prison, but the
pair are pining for Rani.

Nandankanan Zoo director Ajit Patnaik insisted that Rani was doing well in
the zoo.

"She is absolutely well and taking her normal food. If Ram Singh wants to
meet the bear, we can allow him," he said.

Mr Munda stumbled upon the newborn bear during one of his regular visits to
the forest to collect firewood.

The cub had been deserted by its mother.

Mr Munda fed it and the animal ate, drank and slept with father and
daughter. The trio have even been seen riding around on a bicycle.

The tale of the confiscated cub has evoked strong protests from wildlife
activists, who accuse officials of hypocrisy.

"The rights of animals and reptiles to live a life of freedom in their
natural surroundings in the dense forests of the state are being illegally
violated by the zoo authorities," Wildlife Society of Orissa secretary
Biswajit Mohanty said.

India's Wildlife Protection Act stipulates that only a wild animal dangerous
to human life or which is diseased or disabled beyond recovery can be kept
in captivity. 

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