The Rajasthan government is reportedly not doing enough to save the sloth bears in the state.In 2005, the Sariska Tiger Reserve near Alwar saw a tragedy with all the tigers in the park lost to poaching. It was shocking because it was not before several months had passed that the forest department and the state government took notice of the situation. Although tigers were then trans-located into the reserve – of which a good numbers are surviving today – but a decade since the debacle, another blunder is about to take place, this time due to the apathy of the forest department.Due to the lethargic attitude of the department, the chance to revive a species long extinct in the area has now been lost. The species being talked about is the sloth bear, which was once abundant in the entire Aravalli range.In March 2013, a lone bear had strayed into a village near Malarna forest check post under Rajgarh forest of Sariska tiger Reserve. The six-year-old bear had come from Bharatpur. It was rescued and relocated in Kalighati forest area and the animal marked its territory in the park. It roamed around Kankwari, Tehla, Kalighati, Slopka region till Pandupol forest in the park covering a huge area. With this, hopes to revive the species were ignited. But four years since the bear was brought to Sariska, there is no representation of the species in the area. Whats more, the bear has not been sighted by forest officials for nearly a year.”There were no signs of the bear in the last year. We have not come across any carcass. We do not know if the animal was poached or has gone out of the area or has died a natural death” a highly placed official in the department said.Thought was given to the possiblity of reviving the species and plans were also made. However, the department took too long to formulate as in 2015 the final report for reintroduction was completed and tabled. “A factual report, along with a Sloth Bear Reintroduction Project, was forwarded to the forest department in May 2013 year regarding bringing a female bear to the park. It was, however, not put up before the Wildlife Board for consideration,” a forest official told DNA.More red tapeism followed in the state government and the final nod was received in 2017 from NTCA. “There was a glitch, however. The department could not just lift any female bear but the ones that had strayed out of the forest and towards city or village and was healthy to undertake such a journey could only be shifted,” sources said.Officials in the knowhow claim that there have been several incidences over the years particularly in Sirohi district wherein sloth bears have ventured out of the forest areas.But officials claim that the animal might have moved out of area. “Although it has not been sighted for a long time, we think the bear might have gone out of the area and towards Jamwa Ramgarh. It is a free ranging animal and might have gone anywhere” said Balaji Kari, DFO Sariska.Interestingly, reports of a bear in Jamwa Ramgarh have not been received over the past several months.
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