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WTI Launches ‘A Dance to Forget’, a Publication Detailing the Eradication of Sloth Bear Dancing from India
(From left to right) Mr Vivek Menon, Executive Director & CEO, WTI; Mr MC Mehta, renowned environmental lawyer; Ms Tilottama Verma (IPS), Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB); and Dr Erach Bharucha, Director BVIEER and Vice Chairman, WTI at the launch of ‘A Dance to Forget: The Story of the Eradication of Sloth Bear Dancing from India’


BVIEER, Pune; January 6, 2017: Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has launched a Conservation Action Series publication titled ‘A Dance to Forget: The Story of the Eradication of Sloth Bear Dancing from India’, at the 17th International Wildlife Law Conference being held from January 6 to 9 at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education & Research (BVIEER), Pune.

The publication was launched this morning at the opening plenary Ashok Kumar Memorial Lecture, organised to commemorate the eponymous Indian conservation legend (and WTI
s chairman emeritus) who passed away last year, having made a path breaking contribution to wildlife crime control in India through the course of his career. The publication was launched by Ms Tilottama Verma (IPS), Additional Director, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), who also chaired the session; Mr MC Mehta, renowned environmental lawyer; Dr Erach Bharucha, Director BVIEER and Vice Chairman, WTI; and Mr Vivek Menon, Executive Director & CEO, WTI.

A Dance to Forget details the process through which the seven-year Integrated Sloth Bear Conservation Project, run by WTI and the UK-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (now known as World Animal Protection) in association with various state forest departments, ended the medieval practice of bear dancing in India. Key aspects of the project included the rescue of dancing bears and the rehabilitation of Kalandars, the community of traditional street performers, into voluntarily chosen Alternative Livelihoods; identification of key areas from where bear cub were being poached from the wild for bear dancing; and the simultaneous conducting of comprehensive awareness and enforcement drives across the country. Significantly, as the project closed in 2012, none of the rehabilitated Kalandars had returned to their traditional livelihood, bear dancing was not reported in any of the key states, and incidents of bear cub poaching had dwindled to nothing.

Speaking on the occasion, Wildlife Trust of India CEO Vivek Menon said: In terms of the combined societal objectives of wildlife welfare, human welfare and wildlife conservation, the eradication of the cruel practice of bear dancing from the streets of India, and the rescue of the animals and rehabilitation of the Kalandars involved in this profession, is perhaps the most significant of the several milestones that WTI has achieved in its 18-year history.

The International Wildlife Law Conference is being held for the first time in Asia and is jointly organised by the Stetson University College of Law's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy; BVIEER, Pune; the Chair, International Master of Environmental Science Programme, University of Cologne; and Wildlife Trust of India. The conference brings together international wildlife law experts from the governmental, NGO, and academic sectors. Papers on, among other topics, the transboundary challenges of wildlife trade, national policy and legal frameworks to curb wildlife trade, new approaches to wildlife law enforcement, and urban environments and wildlife law are being presented at the conference.

A low resolution file of 'A Dance to Forget' is available for download here.
 
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