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After a recent surge in poaching of sloth bears the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has set up a special investigation team to track down the poachers and traders involved. The team has been drawn from specialists at the Forestry Department. It follows on from the discovery of sloth bear carcases found across the state which had been skilfully carved up.

The poachers are targeting sloth bears in the state because of the ‘medicinal’ qualities of the bears reproductive organs, gall-bladders and paws. It is claimed that these sloth bear parts can be used as aphrodisiacs, cures for cancer and will also treat burns, asthma, sinusitis and other ailments. It is also claimed that consuming sloth bear gall-bladder and its products such as bile can prevent and treat liver disease.

Demand for sloth bears parts is particularly strong with growing affluence in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. With growing demand, the prices of the sloth bear parts are increasing at a rapid rate. Poachers, smugglers and criminals can now earn more for trading in bear parts and products than they can by drug dealing and smuggling.

The remnants of sloth bears have been found across Madhya Pradesh in recent weeks including on the borders of tiger reserves. Forest officials believe that an organised gang is behind the recent deaths and have assigned a team of investigators to each location to investigate the poaching.

Assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Ritesh Sirothia will lead the special investigation team. Two poachers have been detained by the tream in connection with sloth bear killed in Chhindwara region.

Efforts are on to crack the poaching network,” Sirothia said.

The State’s chief wildlife warden Narendra Kumar explained,  “Sloth bears are equally threatened species. We have got fresh clues about a gang involved in poaching. Different teams are working on it.”

The sloth bear is protected from international trade by the CITES convention.

Posted bij Kevin Heath on wildlifenews, Source: http://wildlifenews.co.uk/2014/india-launches-specialist-team-to-protect-sloth-bears/