Forest officials in Nganglam Range Office, Samdrup Jongkhar have rescued a four-month- old female Himalayan Black Bear cub (Ursus thibetanus), deemed to be in illegal possession of a resident of Yangmalashing village in Dechenling geog under Nganglam Dungkhag.
The forest officials have only recently come to know of the illegal possession of the bear cub by Jangchub Namgay, a resident of Yangmalashing village. After informing the village tshogpa, the bear cub was surrendered to the authorities on 6 May. Jangchub Namgay had first come across the abandoned bear cub in a nearby forest area while herding his cattle.
According to forest officials, the bear cub, when first found, had barely any fur on its body. Jangchub Namgay, they believe, rescued and tended to the cub by nurturing and feeding it with cow’s milk for over a period of two months.
The forest range officer, Tashila, said, “He (Jangchub Namgay) took care of the bear cub and brought it up, just like one of his own.” Tashila added that Jangchub Namgay has no family or any children of his own, and that Jangchub’s intention with regard to the well being of the bear cub, was pure. However, Tashila said that no one can possess any wildlife or plants as per the forests and nature conservation rules.
Chapter VII, section 64, sub-section 2 (b) of Forest and Nature Conservation Rules restricts illegal possession of wild animals, which states that no person shall be in possession of any plant listed in the Schedule I of the Act, or any wild animal. It further states, it shall include live or dead specimens, or any parts thereof, including bones, organs, skins, furs, feathers, eggs, fruits or other parts, whether taken, destroyed, or captured in Bhutan or elsewhere.
The Nganglam Range Officer said that Jangchub Namgay cannot be blamed either. “Perhaps being an illiterate farmer, he was not aware of restrictions by Forests and Nature Conservation Rules,” said the range officer.
Officials said that although the bear cub is currently in good health, it is still in a cub stage. Hence, they said that it will at least take 2-3 months for it to become stable & active.
The cub is very young, is dependent on feeding done by a caretaker. The cub cannot be relocated instantly as it was found residing in a warm place, and will not be able to adapt to climate change.
Forest officials have been in touch with the Wildlife Rescue and Animal Health Center (WRAHC) in Taba. The bear cub will be surrendered to the center, where there is the expertise and resources to tend to such cases.
Meanwhile, the bear cub is under care of the Nganglam Range Office, and the officials said they will seek guidance from the experts in WRAHC to feed and tend to the bear cub.