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Unexpected guest surprises visitors at SDM office in Himachal

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

The sub-divisional magistrate’s office in Theog near Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh recently had an unexpected visitor, an adorable black bear cub.

Photographs and videos being circulated on WhatsApp show the staffers and visitors at the SDM’s office were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the bear cub, which looked cheerful among the humans.

The cub was fed and taken good care as it hopped around inside the office regaling the onlookers. The cub was brought to the SDM’s office in Theog after locals rescued it during a forest fire in Kotkhai area of Shimla district. It was later handed over to officials of the wildlife department.

The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Theog, Nitin Patil said the baby bear was sent to the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Tutikandi after a medical examination.

Patil said the cub is 8 to 10 months old and needs help with feeding. “It would be kept under observation for few months after which the experts would decide as to whether it is fit to be released in the wild again,” he said.

In case the bear cub in not found fit for survival in the wild on its own, it may be sent to the Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri, also known as the Kufri Zoo. Patil praised the locals who rescued the cub from the forest fire, and said commendation letters from SDM Theog had been issued to them, praising their efforts in saving the precious wildlife.

The fire, which was of minor nature, had taken place in Baghal village near Theog and it was doused by the locals.

The bear cub, meanwhile, will have company at the Tutikandi centre, which is playing host to another cub that was rescued a few days back.

The other cub had strayed into the market area in Kotkhai and the Wildlife officials initially kept him in the wild under observation as they were hoping that his mother might come looking for him and take it back with her. However, since the mother bear did not turn up for almost two days, the cub was sent to the Tutikandi rescue centre.

Black bears venture into human habitation areas during the period from April onwards as apple growers keep honey bees (in wooden boxes) in their orchards for pollination. According to Patil, the black bears venture into human habitations because honey is their favourite food.

There is also the problem of encroachment on forest land, resulting in continuous decline in their habitats and their increased sightings in the last few years. Black bears are generally found at an altitude of 1,500 mts to 3000 mts in Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Sirmaur, Kangra, Sirmaur districts and their population is estimated at around 500 in Himachal, Dr Bipin Chand Rathore, an expert on bears told The Statesman.