Outcry after Indian man is jailed for rescuing abandoned bear cub

Via the Beeb:

Heartbreak over cub confiscation

By Sanjaya Jena
BBC News, Bhubaneswar

A tribal man in India who rescued an abandoned bear cub to help his daughter overcome her mother’s death has fallen foul of forestry officials.

They confiscated the animal arguing that its capture was in contravention of wildlife laws.

As a result, Ramesh Munda, 35, was briefly jailed and the bear was sent to a zoo where some reports say it has refused to eat.

His daughter is now distraught over the loss of a “much-loved” family friend.

Mutual affection

Mr Munda, who is also known as Ram Singh, rescued Rani almost two years ago from the dense forest of Keonjhar in the eastern state of Orissa.

From the moment the cub was recovered, both man and animal appeared to develop an unusual bond of love.

Such was the level of affection between the bear and Mr Munda’s family, that the local press began to write stories about this rare example of mutual affection.

But Orissa forestry department officials were not so sentimental.

Keonjhar district forest officials arrested and jailed him under the Wildlife Protection Act and sent Rani to Nandankanan Zoological Park….

…. The tale of the confiscated cub has evoked strong protests from wildlife activists, who accuse officials of hypocrisy.

“The rights of animals and reptiles to live a life of freedom in their natural surroundings in the dense forests of the state are being illegally violated by the zoo authorities,” Wildlife Society of Orissa secretary Biswajit Mohanty said.

India’s Wildlife Protection Act stipulates that only a wild animal dangerous to human life or which is diseased or disabled beyond recovery can be kept in captivity.

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