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“Balu Ay Gaya!” (“Bear Has Come!”)

(By NGS Contributor Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul) I’m sharing this piece that I edited or really paraphrased for Wildlife SOS regarding this eventful news. I didn’t want to change this in a stylistic sense because Vinay (Wildlife SOS India) and Nikki (Wildlife SOS USA), who shared the original story with me this morning from India...

(By NGS Contributor Dr. Jordan Carlton Schaul)
I’m sharing this piece that I edited or really paraphrased for Wildlife SOS regarding this eventful news. I didn’t want to change this in a stylistic sense because Vinay (Wildlife SOS India) and Nikki (Wildlife SOS USA), who shared the original story with me this morning from India really captured the essence of the chaos that ensued following a village’s encounter with a wild sloth bear. It is another common tragedy of the human-wildlife interface in the developing world. These villagers do not hate bears or elephants, they just become understandably concerned when these creatures threaten their families and their livelihoods.
I also want to remind you that even when you prepare for these events to the best of your best ability, you can’t always predict what will happen with dangerous/injurious wildlife and sloth bears are by no means an exception. In fact, I commend the villagers and our staff for putting their lives on the line in effort to return this return this bear to a more wild place, if one still exists.
Tue, 2013-04-09 10:08 | by Nikki

By Jordan Carlton Schaul and Vinal Datla

A call about a wild bear in Shikohabad, which is 75 kilometers from the Agra bear rescue facility was received by Dr. Ilyaraja at 9:00 am this morning.  His rescue team was deployed to a Jamali pur village. It took 2 hours for the team to reach the village, where an adult sloth bear was discovered in the middle of a dry storm drain. It was very dark inside the drain, which was estimated to be around 40 feet in length. Without a long a torch in our rescue kit, the villagers used a mirror and directed the sun into the storm drain.

With a transport cage and a net available, Dr. Ilyaraja decided to cover the dry storm drain on one end with the cage and the other end with the net. Dr. Ilyaraja managed to dart the bear through the netting as planned. After waiting about 15 minutes for the drug to take effect, Satyender went into the storm drain with a long stick and tested the bear’s response. The bear still conscious started moving backwards towards the cage. We all thought the rescue was a success as the bear moved into the cage, but suddenly the villagers shouted “Balu aa gaya.”(Bear has come). The bear, spooked by something or someone ran towards the other end right toward Satyender, who narrowly escaped a direct encounter with the frightened sloth bear. The bear reached the net and broke free. The villagers who were responsible for holding the net got scared by the force of the angry sloth bear, dropped the net and ran away.  The bear was left tangled in the net. Raj kumar, and Veeru bravely and boldy managed to hold on to the net to contain the bear while Dr. Ilyaraja attempted to dart the bear again. Unfortunately, he missed, which happens when one tries to dart a bear in open spaces. The angry and aggressive bear managed to escape containment. At this point Dr Ilyaraja found himself face to face with the bear. He had dog-catcher in his hand and attempted to catch the bear. The bear almost attacked him, but ultimately ran away.

In no time the bear had evaded the villagers and escaped into nearby wheat and potato fields about a kilometer away, resting in the shade under a tree before getting spooked by villagers and again. The bear  moved on, ultimately relocating about 2.5 kilometers from the place where it was initially darted. Eventually the bear was successfully darted and immobilized, as noticed by its slowed ventilation rate.
Santyender covered the bear eyes with a cloth and the team carried the bear for almost a kilometer. With an additional dose of tranquilizer, the bear was loaded into a cage and the cage was then placed into the vehicle. The team left the village at 3:30 pm and arrived back at the Agra Bear Rescue Facility at 5:30 pm. At the facility, the animal was observed for injuries and general condition. The bear has now been fully examined and deemed releasable and should be released soon when an appropriate release location has been determined.





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Meet the Author

Author Photo Jordan Carlton Schaul
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: