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Six Bear Cubs at CBRC to Undergo Acclimatization in the Wild for Rehab

Pakke, June 28, 2015: International Fund for Animal Relief (IFAW) – Wildlife Trust of India run Centre for Bear Rehabilitation and Conservation (CBRC) is gearing up to take six bears under its nursery care for acclimatization in the forest for rehabilitation. The bears will be taken to the acclimatization site by the end of September. The machan for the animal keepers and the enclosure for the bears are being made at the acclimatization site.

Of the six bears, one was rescued from Shergaon Forest Division, Arunachal, when it was about a year old and admitted to CBRC in February 2015. The male cub had bilateral cataract which was treated and the cab is now fit for release. Another cub, a six month old female, was transferred from CWRC in Assam to CBRC in May 2015.

The other four cubs are almost of the same age. One of them, a male cub, was rescued from Elephant Fall in Tippi, Arunachal, when it was about 15-20 days old and is healthy and active.

Two cubs, a male and a female, were admitted to CBRC in May 2015, after they were rescued from Hollongi, Papum Pare in Arunachal. The last one, a female cub, was brought from Itanagar Zoo and admitted to CBRC in May 2015.

“This one is the smallest in size but the most active and playful. We are sure that these bears will survive in the wild and I would be the happiest man to see them go back to their natural habitat,” said, Dr Jahan Ahmed, Veterinarian, CBRC.

CBRC is the first specialised rehabilitation centre for Asiatic black bears in India. Supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), the centre was established jointly by the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department, IFAW and WTI in 2002, with an aim to rehabilitate displaced cubs back into the wild.

Situated on the West Bank of Pakke River in Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve (WLS & TR), CBRC, provides shelter, food and veterinary care to orphaned cubs. A field biologist, a veterinarian, who also manages the IFAW-WTI run Mobile Veterinary Service unit of Arunachal Pradesh, and trained animal keepers are always there at the centre.
Following stabilisation at the centre, as the cubs wean off milk, they are relocated into a forest rehabilitation site, for an ‘assisted release’. These rehabilitation sites are selected following extensive scientific deliberations to evaluate their suitability for the cubs’ release. Factors such as topography and vegetation, habitat suitability, food availability, biotic pressure, predators, etc, are studied to select a suitable site for the acclimatisation and release of the cubs.

At the release site, the cubs undergo prolonged acclimatisation, prior to the release. They are taken for daily walks into the forest by a foster parent (an animal keeper) who is responsible for the well-being of the cubs during this period. These walks provide the cubs an opportunity to instinctively familiarise themselves to their natural habitat. The cubs identify their natural food, and hone other skills necessary for independent survival in the wild. At night, the cubs remain at the camp site where they are provided with concentrate feed to supplement their dietary requirements.

As the cubs mature, they become increasingly reluctant to follow the keeper back to the camp site from their walks. The cubs are radio-collared for post-release monitoring when the rehabilitators are confident of the cubs’ independent survival in the wild.
Eventually, the cubs are let off on their own to fend for themselves. They are remotely monitored for six to eight months, by which time the radio collars automatically drop off and the cubs’ ability to survive in the wild is established as well.
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