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In the 2000s, approximately 600 dancing bears were counted in India. By 2009 all were saved and relocated by Wildlife SOS, to their four dancing bear sanctuaries. This organization does not only save the bears, it also provided the former bear owners with an alternative livelihood. Bears in Mind supported Wildlife SOS in such projects.

Wildlife SOS dealt with the problem by addressing it at the source. As soon as an alert came in, about a dancing bear, the intervention team from Wildlife SOS and the responsible authorities rushed to the location. The bear was confiscated and the owner apprehended. Following this, a social program was started, in collaboration with the Indian government. The bear was the main source of income for these poor families of the Kalandar communities. Wildlife SOS helped the families to develop new means of income. The owner got 50,000 rupee for compensation, the children were sent to school and the owner was assisted in finding an alternative way to earn income for his family.

Since the end of 2009, no more bears danced the streets of India. Read more here:

Dancing Bears in India – Final Curtain

In 2008 Indian wildlife NGO ‘WildlifeSOS’ started the training of rangers under the project: ‘Asiatic black bear Conservation Education and Training Programme in Kashmir, India’. They were trained to deal with the capture of bears and other wild animals. Practice with a tranquilizer gun was very important. In addition, they were also trained in dealing with angry mobs that wanted to kill bears or leopards that came too close, also in retalliation as resulting in conflicts. Wild animals should be calmly approached and treated. This minimizes stress levels and is safer for the ranger / handler. There are a number of trained people now in almost every region of the project. They respond immediately, as soon as a bear incident is reported.

Local people learn about the behaviour of wild animals and how they can avoid conflicts. Once there has been an incident with a bear or other wild animal somewhere, village meetings are held. The people of WildlifeSOS explain how the bears can be kept as far from the villages as possible. They also teach the communities how to avoid bears in the future and urge them to report every bear incident as quickly as possible. Even schoolchildren are included in the education programme. They learn about bears, how beautiful they are, but also how important they are to the ecosystem. Through workshops and training the locals will have a more positive attitude towards bears. Moreover, their fear for bears will decrease. Almost every bear incident is reported, unlike before. In the past the only message that came from the village with a bear incident was that the bear had been burned alive or stoned to death. Not only bears benefit from this project; virtually no other wild animal in this area has been killed by the locals ever since it started.