These images show a starving black bear with a mangled front paw after the helpless creature was found caught in a wild boar trap and left there for four days.
Residents in the mountainous Zhuoxi Township in Taiwan’s western county of Hualien found the precious male Formosan black bear (Ursus thibetanus formosanus) on its last legs on 10th June.
The animal, which is classed as ‘endangered’ under the island’s Wildlife Conservation Act, is believed to have been foraging when it stepped into the illegal trap designed to catch wild boar (Sus scrofa).
Footage and pictures provided to Asia Wire by the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association (TBBCA) show the dying bear appearing extremely weak, and unable to free its left forelimb from the snare.
A team of rescuers comprising Hualien Forestry Bureau rangers as well as TBBCA bear expert Doctor Hwang Mei-hsiu was able to track the animal down for emergency treatment.
Doctor Wang, who is Taiwan’s foremost specialist on the species, said the animal appeared to be missing its left forepaw, suggesting it had been severed by another trap in the past.
The stump where its paw used to be had become clasped by the boar snare for “three to four days”, and was gangrenous and infested with maggots, she said.
However, Doctor Wang and her team found themselves ill-equipped to deal with the severity of the bear’s injury. They had neither glucose drips nor the means with which to transport the animal.
With the nearest available wildlife aid station some 38 kilometres (23 miles) away, the group decided to treat the bear on site, tranquilised it with a dart.
They sterilised and dressed the wound, and then inspected the animal for tags or trackers in the hope of finding it again.
But they were unable to locate any ear tags or GPS implants, and later released it back into the wild.
Doctor Wang said the adult bear was not certain to survive.
Yang Jui-fen, director of the Forestry Bureau’s Hualien Forest District Office, said she would work to address the fact that the team did not have tools such as a cage on hand for transport.
Yang added that she regretted the rescue team was unable to bring the injured bear in for treatment, or plant a GPS tracker in order to follow its movements.
However, park rangers will look to capture the animal in the coming days and weeks in order to properly treat and tag it.
TBBCA consultant Wang Hsiao-hu revealead in a Facebook post that the association had urged the Taiwanese government to establish an official wildlife rescue centre on the island’s east coast.
However, plans have not been approved and, as a result, the nearest aid station to the injured bear was the Taiwan Black Bear Education Center in the township of Yuli – 38 kilometres (23 miles) away.
Snares like the one that trapped the black bear can be easily bought online, while Taiwan’s Animal Protection Act prohibits the manufacture, sale and use of animal traps.
Offenders face fines of up to 75,000 TWD (1,900 GBP).
The Formosan black bear is a subspecies of the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), or moon bear, known for the crescent-shaped patch of white fur on its chest.
The animal is endemic to the island of Taiwan and is classed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List.
Foreign donations to the Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association can be made in USD, EUR, CNY, HKD using the following account information:
Beneficiary’s bank name: Bank SinoPac
Beneficiary’s bank address address: No. 36, Sec. 3, Nanjing E. Rd., Taipei City 10489, Taiwan, R.O.C
Swift code: SINOTWTP
Beneficiary’s name: Chunghwa Post – (Chang Fu-mei) Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association
Beneficiary’s account: 70000010850461771
Beneficiary’s address: 5F-2, No. 6, Beiping West Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 10041, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Beneficiary’s telephone number: 02-23818696
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