Bear Baiting In Pakistan. Is It Still Happening?

Bear baiting has been occurring in the Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan since 2004. The events are organized predominantly by local warlords who own the fighting dogs. During the event the bear will be tethered to a rope 2–5 meters long in the center of an arena to prevent escape. Bears’ canine teeth are often removed and their claws may be filed down giving them less advantage over the dogs. Each fight lasts around three minutes. If the dogs pull the bear to the ground they are said to win the fight. Bears usually have to undergo several fights during each day’s event. Bears are illegally sourced by poaching. Asiatic black bears and brown bears are known to be poached in Pakistan and used in bear baiting. Asiatic black bears are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals. The capture of bear cubs is prohibited across three provinces of Pakistan by: the North West Frontier Province Conservation and Management Act (1975); the Punjab Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Act (1974); and the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1972). Bear baiting was banned in Pakistan by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1890). Pakistan’s wildlife authorities are working with animal welfare groups to eradicate the events, with some success. Baiting animals is outlawed in the Quran. The Bioresource Research Center, a Pakistani wildlife group working to end bear baiting, uses this to encourage mosques in areas where baiting occurs to add an anti-cruelty message to their Friday Khutbba (sermon). Kund Park Sanctuary was opened in 2000 by World Animal Protection to provide a home for bears confiscated by the wildlife authorities and NGOs working to eradicate bear baiting in Pakistan. However, during the 2010 Pakistan floods Kund Park was destroyed and all but 3 of the 23 bears there died. The survivors were moved to a newly constructed sanctuary in Balkasar Bear Sanctuary.

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