Cruel Practice of Forced Dancing Bears Resurfaces in India Despite Decades-Old Ban

The cruel practice of forcing bears to dance for entertainment has resurfaced in India, despite a ban since 1972. Animal rights groups work to rescue bears and provide alternative livelihoods, but the inhumane trade persists, highlighting the ongoing struggle to protect wildlife.

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Dil Bar Irshad
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Cruel Practice of Forced Dancing Bears Resurfaces in India Despite Decades-Old Ban

Cruel Practice of Forced Dancing Bears Resurfaces in India Despite Decades-Old Ban

The cruel tradition of forcing bears to dance for entertainment has seen a resurgence in India, despite being banned since 1972. Animal rights groups had believed they rescued the last dancing bear, but recent seizures by forest department officials in Bihar and Jharkhand villages indicate a revival of this inhumane practice.

Sloth bears, the species targeted for this abuse, endure immense suffering. Their noses and jaws are pierced with hot iron rods, and their teeth and claws are broken to subdue them. The Wildlife Trust of India reports that villagers not only pay to watch the bears dance but also sell their body parts like hair, claws, and nails as lucky charms for profit.

In an effort to curb this practice, advocacy and environmental groups have been working with the Kalandar tribe, who traditionally relied on dancing bears for their livelihoods. The groups have persuaded Kalandars to learn new skills such as driving, accountancy, and welding to find alternative income sources. However, some Kalandars who fail to succeed in their new jobs may be tempted to return to their old ways, as they still possess the knowledge of locating and hunting bears.

Over 600 bears have been rescued and taken to animal sanctuaries, but an estimated 6,000-11,000 sloth bears remain in the wild in India, facing threats from poaching and habitat loss. Experts are calling for a complete ban on any form of animal cruelty, even if it is an old tradition, as it goes against the compassionate values enshrined in the Indian constitution.

Why this matters: The resurgence of forced dancing bears in India highlights the ongoing struggle to protect animal rights and welfare in the face of deeply entrenched cultural practices. It highlights the need for stronger enforcement of existing bans and the importance of providing sustainable alternative livelihoods for communities that have traditionally relied on animal exploitation.

Despite the efforts of animal rights groups and government officials, the appalling conditions in which these bears are kept persist. Some owners continue to exploit the animals for profit through practices like bile extraction or training hunting dogs. The resurfacing of this cruel tradition serves as a glaring reminder of the work that still needs to be done to ensure the protection and humane treatment of India's wildlife.

Key Takeaways

  • Forced dancing bears resurge in India despite 1972 ban, with 600+ bears rescued.
  • Sloth bears endure abuse: noses/jaws pierced, teeth/claws broken to subdue them.
  • Advocacy groups work to provide alternative livelihoods for Kalandar tribe who relied on bears.
  • Estimated 6,000-11,000 sloth bears remain in the wild, facing poaching and habitat loss.
  • Experts call for complete ban on animal cruelty, even if traditional, to uphold compassion.