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Project information

Campaign to End Bear Baiting in Pakistan

WSPA aims to permanently end the cruel and barbaric practice of bear baiting in Pakistan, and therefore the world.

July 2010 - December 2015

Charity information: World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection logo
  • Need


    Bear baiting is a blood sport in which tethered and defenceless bears are attacked by trained dogs. Asiatic black and brown bear cubs are poached from the wild; their canine teeth broken, claws extracted and sensitive muzzle pierced with a rope or nose-ring. Bears rarely die during bouts, enduring up to six fights in one event. Bear baiting is now only found in parts of rural Pakistan, involving an estimated 70 bears.


    In 1997, WSPA joined forces with Pakistan Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) to bring an end to bear baiting. Our strategy is based on four aims or principles which each complement and reinforce the other to tackle the immediate animal welfare issues of the bears involved, but also the wider societal conditions that contribute to its continuation.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Strengthen enforcement of existing wildlife protection laws


    » Field Intelligence: Five monitoring teams will gather information and communicate accurate GPS data on planned bear baiting events and captive bears
    » Local Co-operation: Information will be passed to wildlife authorities to enforce the law (bear baiting is illegal in Pakistan).
    » Legislation: lobby for increased fines and a nationwide ban on keeping bears. Ensure ‘zero tolerance’ penalties for offenders.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...a declining number of planned bear baiting events being allowed to go ahead.

    Aim 2

    Educate and engage local communities in animal welfare arguments against bear-baiting.


    » Religious Leaders. gain support of key religious leaders to promote animal welfare issues in “Friday Prayers”.
    » Mobile infotainment unit travels to village fairs promoting awareness of the cruelty of bear baiting with video, plays, leaflets and discussions.
    » Bioresource Centre representatives and religious leaders visit and influence landlords who may have hosted baiting events on their land

    What success will look like

    Success will be... attitude change amongst community members to understand and appreciate the cruelty of bear baiting

    Aim 3

    Develop alternative livelihoods for bear owners that are sustainable and animal welfare friendly


    » In 2011 support 12 former bear owners in commercially viable alternative livelihoods appropriate to the local market, their capabilities and needs.
    » Monitor and support the progress of eight former bear owners already involved in the programme.

    What success will look like

    Success will be...former bear owners entering and successfully undertaking the Alternative Livelihoods project

    Aim 4

    Provide high welfare sanctuary for rescued bears


    » Kund Park Sanctuary: Fund and monitor the facility, resources and veterinary standards to ensure the rescued bears receive the best possible care
    » Balkasar: Sanctuary: Complete construction on a second sanctuary, equip, staff and fund running costs ready to accept newly rescued bears

    What success will look like

    Success will be...Successful completion of the second sanctuary at Balkasar, to re-home rescued bears.

  • Impact


    Up to 70 bears will no longer face the intense agony of a bear baiting bout, and will instead live in high-welfare conditions as close as possible to their natural habitat. Improved enforcement will protect Pakistan’s remaining wild bears and other wildlife for years to come. Our success will be measured by ongoing investigations at Pakistan’s village fairs and by monitoring the effectiveness of enforcement activities carried out by the newly-trained wildlife officials.


    The main risk is the ongoing conflict between the Pakistani Armed Forces and local militants. Therefore, in researching a location for our new sanctuary a key requirement was a safe area away from human settlements. Access to the sanctuary is only allowed for vehicles registering at an adjacent military outpost. Balkasar is in the Punjab region, not too far from Islamabad, and is well connected via a brand new motorway. All of this should provide best possible protection against any incidents.


    The project is evaluated through quarterly visits by WSPA Asia’s Veterinary Wildlife Programs Manager, Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach. Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas of BRC provides updates on fieldwork. We will report to donors via our website, dedicated newsletters and formal reports according to schedule.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £238,800

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £57,900 Strengthening Enforcement .
      £49,300 Community Engagement .
      £39,500 Alternative Livelihoods .
      £39,500 Providing Sanctuary .
      £52,600 Project Management, Monitoring .
  • Background


    The project is located in the Punjab and Sindh Provinces of Pakistan, in the east and south of the country respectively. Both provinces are extensively irrigated. Agriculture is a key industry, however, combined, the provinces contribute a large proportion of the country’s GDP, having a diversified economic base.


    Bears poached as cubs from their mothers in the wild and forced to endure a lifetime in captivity, repeated fights, poor nutrition and unhealed injuries will be the primary beneficiaries. In their safe WSPA sanctuary, they will be free from fear and pain and able to live as closely as possible as they would in the wild.

    The alternative livelihoods scheme will provide sustainable, stable and legal income for former bear owners.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    WSPA has many years’ experience working on bear protection issues. In 1991, we established the LiBEARty Campaign to protect bears from cruelty in the wild and in captivity – bear farming, bear baiting, bears in poor zoo conditions and dancing bears. We actively work with related organisations to share information, best practice and lobby governments to achieve change.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Fakhar-I-Abbas, Director Of Pakistan Bioresource Centre

    Has worked on bear protection issues since 1997. He and his team are strongly dedicated to the goal of eradicating bear baiting

    Victor Watkins, WSPA Wildlife Advisor

    Has been with WSPA since its inception 29 years ago, working tirelessly on bear welfare issues worldwide.

    Dr Jan Schmidt-Burbach, WSPA Asia’S Veterinary Programs Manager

    Has extensive experience in the high welfare management of wild animal sanctuaries.