One of Wildlife SOS’s best-known achievements is the eradication of the cruel Dancing Bear practice in India, by rescuing and rehabilitating some 600+ bears whilst simultaneously providing alternative forms of livelihood to Kalandars, the tribal community that ‘danced’ Sloth bears for a living. These rescued bears are now cared for at Wildlife SOS’s rehabilitation centres in India. A visit to their Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF), the world’s largest Sloth bear rescue centre, near to Agra is a must if you are driving between Delhi and Agra.
Established in 2002 by Wildlife SOS in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, it currently houses nearly 200 Sloth bears in large forested enclosures with ponds, enrichments and shady trees. The facility undertakes advanced research, disease management and provides specialised veterinary care for Sloth bears. You’ll have a chance to watch an absorbing short educational video at the centre, and to learn about how WSOS eradicated the cruel practice, whilst touring the centre with one of their dedicated, specially trained Education Officers.
It is an excellent and rare opportunity to spend time observing these amazing creatures from close quarters. Just as Baloo in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, sloth bears are vital cast members of the great Indian Jungle saga, but are often overshadowed by wildlife tourism’s focus on our Tigers and Elephants.
The centre is well equipped to take care of all the ‘simple bear necessities of life’. The Sloth bears are centre stage here, and you can watch them at feeding time (look out for the loud slurping noises), or engaging in their carefully designed enrichment activities. Sometimes, they do exactly what all of us yearn to do, sit under a tree, lean back and just snooze. It is hard to imagine the cruelty they have faced, but heartening to know that they are now in very good care.
Please note that Wildlife SOS are strongly committed to the ethical treatment of animals, therefore direct contact with the animals in the facilities is not a part of the volunteering programme. Only trained Wildlife SOS staff can interact directly with them, however you will be observing the animals from close proximity when visiting.
Wildlife SOS actively works towards protecting Indian wildlife, conserving habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile poacher communities or those communities that depend on wildlife for sustenance. They seek to ensure that every wild animal’s call for help is answered, whether it be a sloth bear, elephant, leopard, reptile, primate, bird or any other living creature. Wildlife SOS aims to sensitise and create awareness about the plight of India’s vanishing wildlife, illegal wildlife trafficking, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and our efforts in the field of wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. Instep Adventures is proud to contribute to Wildlife SOS’s efforts.
For every visit to the Bear Rescue Facility, Instep Adventure will contribute £15 to Wildlife SOS, all of which goes toward the upkeep of the facility, and the ongoing medical treatment and care of all the rescued and injured animals.