Himalayan Black bear caught at Sikkim Raj Bhawan

Gangtok: A Himalayan Black Bear strayed into Raj Bhawan colony, the residential area where Governor of Sikkim resides, here on Wednesday night. Though far from the official residence of the Governor, the endangered animal feasted on a few poultry near some of the quarters on the Raj Bhawan premises.

One of the residents in the quarters said, “We spotted the bear late last night around 10. It was trying to get into the outhouse where we keep our poultry. It may have eaten a few. We reached out to the forest department officials late last night itself. But knowing the weather yesterday and the additional threat of the animal in the dark, they opted to come in the morning.”

Sikkim’s wildlife officials gathered at the Raj Bhawan around 4:30 am on Thursday.

The animal was still at the same location as mentioned by local residents the night before. After almost 6 hours of struggle, the Himalayan black bear could finally be tranquilized and taken to the rescue centre at Himalayan Zoological Park in Gangtok.

“Bears tend to get agitated when they are tranquillised,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Dichen Lachungpa, who was leading her team to rescue the animal.

Speaking to local media, she stated, “So we got a call yesterday around midnight that a bear has strayed around the quarters on the premises of the Raj Bhawan and was feeding on the poultry. I, along with the patrolling team, visited the spot at night to ensure safety of the people residing here. But of course we could not carry out any rescue operation because it was dark and could have been dangerous for the staff members. This morning around 4:30 we came here with the entire team and combed the area after which the bear was successfully tranquilized.”

The currently caged animal will be released in Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary.

On the reason for the animal straying into human habitation, the DFO said, “It is not a rare or a special incident that a Himalayan Black Bear has strayed into a city or a village. It is a regular occurrence. There are many factors responsible, so we cannot really pinpoint to a particular reason.”

In 2020, during the lockdown period, a Himalayan Black bear had entered the BSNL office in the heart of town, merely metres away from MG Marg. Many officials at that point had reasoned that the bear may have come owing to lesser vehicular movement during the lockdown period and also due to lack of availability of food that is usually left by humans often in forests when they travel.

One forest department official said the bad weather over the past few days, along with winter chill steadily gripping Sikkim, may have pushed the Himalayan Black bear to come this far into human habitation in search of food.

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