Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh, May 07, 2018: On April 11 last year, two male Asiatic black bear cubs, estimated to be between one and two months old, were rescued and brought to the Centre for Bear Rehabilitation and Conservation (CBRC) – the rescue, treatment and rehabilitation facility for Asiatic black bears established in Pakke Tiger Reserve by IFAW-WTI and the Arunachal Forest Department. On June 25, they were joined by a female Asiatic black bear cub, about three to four months old.
The two male cubs, ‘Ro-1’ and ‘Ro-2’, were brought in from Abango village in the Roing district of Arunachal Pradesh. They had been picked up by local labourers from the hollow of a tree trunk and handed over to their contractor, who had wanted to keep them as pets. The female cub, ‘Yalo’, had apparently been found alone in a corn field near Belong village in the Siang district of Arunachal. A local woman had diligently fed and cared for the cub until the forest department, upon learning of the situation, handed it over to CBRC.
The three cubs were hand-raised at CBRC and moved to a pre-release site at Doimukh in the Khari Pong area of Pakke in August. They were housed in separate cages placed on a machaan for their safety, and observed at the pre-release site for a week. From September 2017 to April 2018, in keeping with the established ‘soft release’ protocol for Asiatic black bears, the cubs were taken for daily walks into the forest by animal keepers (acting as foster parents). This allowed them to familiarise themselves with their natural habitat – identifying their natural foods and honing other skills necessary for independent survival in the wild – but also to return to the safety of the acclimatisation site at night. The bears were walked for around three to five hours daily, excepting days when it rained heavily.
Table 1: Distance walked and area covered by the bear cubs from September 2017 to April 2018
|Month||Days walked|| Distance walked
| Area covered
*The cubs were released into the wild on April 13, 2018
All aspects of the cubs’ behaviour while feeding, playing and swimming, including fear response, aggression, intelligence and other characteristics were monitored by CBRC biologist Nilmani Rabha during these daily excursions.
On April 11 and 12, Yalo, Ro-1 and Ro-2 were micro-chipped and underwent the mandatory final health checks conducted by CBRC veterinarian Dr Rinku Gohain. Ro-1 was also radio-collared. On April 13, they were released into the wild. They are being closely monitored by Nilmani Rabha post-release.