In another enraged incident of human-bear conflict which happened in Uppanavakanhalli in Chitradurga, Karnataka, both the people and the bear were seriously injured. The village is adjacent to the newly declared Jogimatti Wildlife Sanctuary. The bear, possibly from the sanctuary has been straying into the village for more than a week during night time and had even injured a farmer on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, when the bear was seen, the angry villagers attacked with sticks and threw stones on her. The villagers were reportedly annoyed at the forest officials who have not appeared despite repeated complaints to take action.
Another report from The Hindu says “the chaotic operation, involved forest and police officials turned violent after Satish, a police Inspector from Chitradurga rural police station, and Manjunath, a cameraman for a private news channel, were attacked by the cornered bear. Soon, numerous local residents chased the bear, hurling stones at it. After two hours, people surrounded the bear and rained blows using canes.” The forest officials, who were outnumbered by angry local residents, managed to rescue the wounded animal. “When people started to gather in large numbers, we did not have enough personnel to handle the situation. However, we managed to capture the animal. We have provided it treatment,” said Assistant Conservator for Forests (ACF) Srinivas. Sloth bears are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act and injuring one can lead to prosecution.
Are sloth bears our cherished character ‘Baloo,’ from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling? Yes, with the exception of colour, Kipling’s descriptions of Baloo are consistent with the sloth bear, as brown bears and Asian black bears do not occur in the Seoni, Madhya Pradesh area where the novel takes place.
What are sloth bears? Sloth bears are one of eight species of bears on our planet. They are shaggy, dusty, and unkempt, emitting noisy grunts, snorts. They are usually nocturnal and predominantly feed on termites and ants and their only competition for ants and termites are the pangolins.
Sloth bears are endemic to the Indian sub-continent and have gone extinct fairly recently from Pakistan and Bangladesh, underscoring threats posed by habitat loss and increasing human interface to the species.
Why do sloth bears attack humans? Most sloth bear attacks are defensive and happen when a human intrudes into their space suddenly. With dwindling wildlife habitats and human encroachment into forests, the bears are increasingly coming into conflict with people.
Why should we protect our bears?
How to protect sloth bears in India? Atuala Gupta from Indias endangered puts this well:
“The major obstacle with animals like Tiger and Bears is the fear of the animals. If locals do realize that the animals too want their share of the land that humans have so easily marked as their own, the conflict and the struggle for living space will automatically cease to exist. While the government can make new protection policies, segregate protected areas and ban poaching, it cannot help unless locals support the cause. Sloth bears don’t need to be feared, they need to be left alone in peace in their forest homes.”
This ferocious incident recorded on camera shows us the horrific scenes of a conflict and many such incidents go unreported. The Logical Indian requests people to be sensitive towards animals and the government to provide latest equipment and stringent protocols to the forest officials for capturing animals in conflict immediately.