Languages
Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 16:44 UK

Heartbreak over cub confiscation

By Sanjaya Jena
Bhubaneswar

Ramesh Munda and Rani
An inseparable bond developed between man and bear

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.

Ramesh Munda, Rani the bear and daughter Gulki
Mr Munda says that he had a happy family

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.

Now both man and animal are pining to be reunited, with the bear reportedly refusing to eat any food.

Deserted

Recently released on bail, Mr Munda is desperately looking for an opportunity to visit Nandankanan and spend a few moments with Rani.

"I brought her up like my own daughter Gulki. I'm eager to meet her," he said.

Little Gulki, who spent her childhood with Rani, is also shedding tears over the absence of her furry friend.

She has now been reunited with her father after his time in prison, but the pair are pining for Rani.

map

Nandankanan Zoo director Ajit Patnaik insisted that Rani was doing well in the zoo.

"She is absolutely well and taking her normal food. If Ram Singh wants to meet the bear, we can allow him," he said.

Mr Munda stumbled upon the newborn bear during one of his regular visits to the forest to collect firewood.

The cub had been deserted by its mother.

Mr Munda fed it and the animal ate, drank and slept with father and daughter. The trio have even been seen riding around on a bicycle.

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.


SEE ALSO
Workers rescue zoo's sloth bears
24 Dec 04 |  Southern Counties
Mission to save performing bears
04 Nov 04 |  Southern Counties
Bear sanctuary given cash boost
29 Jul 04 |  Southern Counties
Hope for India's dancing bears
21 Jan 03 |  Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific