Meet the world’s most dangerous bear: it battles tigers, hangs out with leopards, and attacks more humans than any of its ursine brethren. Oh, and it recently escaped from centuries of slavery. This is the story of India’s sloth bear, and it’s anything but slow.
Of the eight bear species in the world, the sloth bear is the least understood. Scientists are learning more about this unique species that’s tough enough to share the jungle with Bengal tigers. The sloth bear is a fighter, but its drive to survive makes it dangerous to humans. It mauls or kills so many people each year, it’s been called the deadliest bear on earth.
But humans have done their fair share of harm to sloth bears, too. For centuries, they were captured and enslaved as “dancing bears,” tortured to entertain tourists. It took an incredible effort – and some dramatic undercover work – to free the bears, and the fight’s not over yet.
Kate Morgan is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, SIERRA, Popular Science and many other publications.
Kartick Satyanarayan is the co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS. He is often referred to as the “Bear Man of India” for his efforts to put an end to the illegal practice of “dancing bears” in India. He is now focused on tackling bear conservation issues through biodiversity conservation, protecting habitat and creating bear conservation and education programs to mitigate bear human conflict in India.
Thomas Sharp is a wildlife ecologist and the director of conservation and research at Wildlife SOS.
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Wildlife SOS was established to make lasting change to protect and conserve India’s natural heritage, forest and biodiversity. The organization works towards protecting Indian wildlife, conserving habitat, studying biodiversity, conducting research and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for erstwhile communities that depend on wildlife for sustenance.
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This episode of The Roaring Earth podcast was written and produced by Kate Morgan. Sound engineering and original music was provided by Joe Bussiere. Jan Renner and Glen Hoffman are the executive producers.