It takes a nation to protect the nation
Note how the Youtube video has been removed, so the bastards can hide their cruel behaviour.
Aug 3, 2009
Disturbing footage taken in July by WSPA member society the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) has proven that bear baiting events are taking place in Punjab and resulted in the investigation of wildlife officials for corruption.
For two years, the Punjab Department of Wildlife and Parks has denied that bear baiting takes place in the region, refusing to accept BRC’s continuous undercover investigations into this illegal activity.
The department’s complaints and denials have been in danger of undermining work to protect bears. "In the past years the Punjab Wildlife and Park authority have frequently ignored information we forwarded on bear baiting and thus our request to stop these events were sometimes not very successful," explains Dr Fakhar-i-Abbas, Executive Director of BRC.
Despite this, since January 2008 the organisation has been able to prevent 135 of 172 known bear baiting events, protecting both bears and dogs.
But while their holistic strategy (including education, alternative livelihood programmes and working with local mosques) means bear baiting is on the wane, BRC realised they needed definitive proof that this remains an urgent animal welfare problem in Punjab.
BRC’s focus is on preventing these violent encounters. This time they attended a baiting undercover to gather indisputable proof that this blood sport – which makes landowning hosts wealthy – continues.
The images and footage taken on 17 July 2009 clearly show dogs being encouraged to attack tethered bears. The audience are likely to have placed bets, despite animal cruelty being forbidden in the Islamic faith.
Even BRC, with their wealth of experience, were shocked at how young one bear appears to be.
Attempting to remove bears during or immediately after a baiting event is dangerous – those with an interest in the profits may be armed. Police were present at this particular event as spectators, failing to enforce animal protection law.
Instead, BRC is in contact with the bears’ owners and will explore options for alternative livelihoods with them, in hopes of removing the animals. This tactic works: in the last 18 months alone owners have been convinced to allow 19 bears to retire from the horror of baiting.
Those bears now reside in the Kund Park sanctuary, funded by WSPA supporters and praised by Pakistan’s Minister of Environment during a visit in March.
The footage was reported in Pakistan’s Daily Times; this should help mitigate any damage to anti-bear baiting work caused by the Department of Wildlife and Parks’ denials.
Importantly, this evidence has resulted in the authorities withdrawing complaints against BRC and suspending the relevant officers and managers. The province’s anti-corruption council is now reviewing the case.
WSPA’s Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Wildlife Veterinary Programmes Manager, said: "The latest developments illustrate the efficiency of BRC's undercover monitoring work, unmasking a case of corruption on district level. It can be hoped that the relevant wildlife authorities will now cooperate with greater dedication to rule out this cruel practice."
Pakistan is the only nation where bear baiting is known to persist. With your support, WSPA and BRC aim to eradicate it, and the associated dog abuse, by 2012.
Animal welfare workers are urging Pakistan to rescue scores of bears being used to fight dogs.
The Pakistani authorities have ... raised endless bureaucratic obstacles in the way of taking action against bear baiting
Peter Henderson, WPSA
Bear-baiting is illegal under Pakistani law, but some authorities are reported to be allowing it to continue. Pakistan says it is determined to stamp out the practice, but that it needs more time.
It says it is certain that some bears will be rescued from the baiting gangs later this year.
The alarm was sounded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), based in the UK. The society has spent more than £100,000 ($150,000) on the construction of a sanctuary for baited bears at Kund Park, in the North West Frontier province of Pakistan.
WPSA says it built the sanctuary, which can house 40 to 50 animals, in response to a Pakistan Government request for somewhere to put the bears it promised to confiscate from owners.
But the sanctuary, completed last May, still lies empty. Bear-baiting was introduced to Pakistan (then part of India) by the British colonisers two centuries ago.
It uses Asiatic black bears, estimated by WSPA to number perhaps fewer than 300 still in the wild in Pakistan. The adults are killed, and the cubs are sold to gypsies who use them to fight specially-trained dogs at events hosted by landlords in rural areas.
The bears, which have often had their teeth and claws removed, are tied to a stake. They seldom die during a fight, but suffer savage punishment from bites to their muzzles and ears.
The object of the fight is to see whether one of the two dogs can force the bear to roll over. The bear usually loses.
WSPA estimates that up to 50 bear-baiting contests take place annually, between November and April. It says the practice is concentrated in parts of Punjab province, and in Sind and Baluchistan.
Peter Henderson of WSPA, who built the Kund Park sanctuary, filmed a bear fight at Khan Bela in Punjab on 16 November last year. He had left the area earlier in the day because of concerns for his security, but returned to fly over the fight in a light aircraft.
He said: "There were 14 bears defending themselves against pairs of dogs, more than 30 altogether. We flew low over the field, so low they had to stop. Then they began filming us."
WSPA says police officers were guarding the entrances to the field, and the authorities, despite advance warning, failed to enforce the law.
I am sure we shall see the first bears rescued from the baiters entering the WSPA sanctuary later this year
Ejaz Raja, Pakistan High Commission in London
It wants the Pakistani leader, General Pervez Musharraf, to issue a decree ordering the confiscation of all bears involved in baiting.
Peter Henderson said: "The Pakistani authorities have sent WSPA on a continual merry-go-round of false promises, and have raised endless bureaucratic obstacles in the way of taking action against bear baiting."
But the Pakistan High Commission in London said action would soon come.
The second secretary in the Commission's political section, Mr Ejaz Raja, told BBC News Online: "The necessary actions have been taken.
"These events happen in rural areas, and it takes a little time for the measures to filter down.
"I don't accept WSPA's account of what happened in Khan Bela, because I'm sure it must have taken place quite illegally. But we'll ask our government for an immediate investigation.
"Bear-baiting is illegal in Pakistan, and I agree it's barbaric. I am sure we shall see the first bears rescued from the baiters entering the WSPA sanctuary later this year."
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