Map of bear baiting regions in Pakistan

0 God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship, with all living things, our little brothers to whom thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us.
May we realise that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.
First uttered by - St Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, 370 AD

Where does bear baiting occur in Pakistan?

Latest fights occurred in Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. These are rural towns in the North of Pakistan.

When did it start?

First the Gypsies danced their bears for money. When the British began their rule, they introduced animal baiting as a sport, using Bull Terriers. The sport has escalated since 1940. Bear hunting has also grown as a result of widespread ownership of firearms and was used to develop relationships with the British.


In 1994 Dr Chaudry reported bear baiting occurs in winter months between November - April.

What kind of bears are involved?

  • Asiatic Brown Bears - found in the West of Indue River to Northern parts of the country. Now reported to be in small isolated groups (1990). A subspecies listed in the Red Darta Book.
  • Brown Bear - now uncommon, few found on the North West area near the Chinese border. Remote areas on Deosai Plains, maybe 50 individuals in 1990. In 1996 populations were reported 20Okm from the Deosai River, numbers unknown.

Is it illegal?



It was banned by the Pakistan Legislature under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1890).

  • Capture of bear cubs is prohibited (1975) - North West Province.
  • Capture of bear cubs is prohibited (1974) - Punjab Wildlife Protection.
  • Capture of bear cubs is prohibited (1972) - Sindh Wildfife Protection.

Is it against the country's religion?

Yes, Islam forbids inciting animals to fight one another.

Who is involved?

  • Grazier -migrating, pastoral people who herd their own sheep, goats and cattle. They capture the bear cubs near NWFP, also from Nooristan in Afghanistan.
  • Traders - purchase the bears, pierce their muzzles with rings, remove the incisors and canines. Beat the legs of the bears and manipulate the sensitive nose ring - to make the bears dance (some known to dance on hot coals).
  • Landowners - powerful land-barons and landlords, prominent businessmen - however some have high ethics and morals and do not get involved. Some are interested in horse and greyhound racing. The less powerful landlord seems more interested. They use their dogs as an affirmation of their status.
  • Helpers - servants tenants - care for dogs daily and handle the animals at the events.
  • Audiences - youth and older men. Local landlords and police.


In 1993, prior to an international outcry 80 registered bear baiting events occurred.( ie +- 100 fights)


  • Estimated 1992 - 1993 ( 2400 bear fights) took place.
  • Estimated 1997 - 1998 (200 bear fights) took place.
  • Estimated 1998 - 1999 (25 bear fight) took place.

When did WSPA expose it?

In 1993, in Pinjals and Sindh.

What was the result of the International outcry?

December 1993 - Lahore said Government ordered all Provincial Authorities to enforce a ban on bear baiting, to confiscate bears and move them to zoological garidens.


Because it contravened wildlife protection laws and violated Islamic injunctions:
Government of NWFP declared a ban has been imposed. Also they felt it necessary to establish a park, and needed sponsorship from international NGO's - (None Government Organisations). Result: A few cases brought against offenders. WSPA knows of no confiscation of bears.

Who informs WSPA?

Dr Inayat Chaudry of "Habitat Integrated Pakistan," was the foremost authority on the matter. He was committed to conservation of wildbears.He Kept WSPA informed of events.He sadly passed away in 1999.

Who is John Joseph?

Regional Manager for WSPA in Asia. WSPA - The World Society for Protection of Animals.

Who is Jeffrey Changrin?

Freelance cameraman who photographed events.
Areas visited - Sargodha and Mianwali districts.

When did WSPA go to Pakistan of late?

  • 10/02/1997 Arrived. No fights in Sargodba and Mianwali
  • 20/02/1997 Found an event at Mithatiwan Village and at Kotla Fateh Knan (same day)
  • 22/02/1997 Left Pakistan and filed their report.

How much money does a Kalander earn?

12 = 600 rupees = R 132.00 for fighting his bear. Bear has to fight 2 - 6 dogs.

How much does a bear cost the Kalander to purchase?

100 = 60 000 rupees = R1 100.

Value of the bear to the Kalander?

1 600 = 100 000 rupees = R17 600.


Landlords loan the gypsey money to buy a small house which he must pay back. Still he needs money for his family, food for his animals and bear.


One lost bear a year. When a bear dies, he lays the bear's prostrate at the feet of the landlord to offer pleasure. Results in gifts from the landlord.

What type of dogs are involved?

Pit Bull Terriers, mixed with a local breed "Kohati" - males are used from the same litter for inbreeding.

Value of a dog?

1 600 = 100 000 rupees = R17 600.

At what age is a bear forced to fight?

Any time from 3 years old upwards. Maybe younger. Most die by age 4 - 7 years. Life expectancy in the wild 20 - 30 years. One owner had 7 bears in 5 years. ( one bear per year).

How tall is a bear?

1.4 to 1.7 metres.


120kg for a Asiatic Black Bear.

What are the rules of the game?

  • Bear tied to central pivot by a rope 2 - 5m long.
  • 2 - 6 dogs target head area.
  • If the dog can attack head area and pull bear down, forcing bear to roll then the dog wins.
  • Bears wins if it can remain on its feet. This is rare.
  • Points system on level of submission.Landlord usually wins.
  • Bear rises to its hind legs and tries to beat the dogs off.
  • Smaller bears tuck their heads under their bodies.


Sometimes other dogs are set free from members of the audience due to the excitement.


Takes one minute to get the dog's jaw loose from the bears flesh, by means of a stick.

How long is a fight?

Depends on how soon the bear surrenders or scores points. Intervals of 2 - 3 minutes between fights. Gypsies douse water onto the wounds but no medical treatment given. Bears usually do not get water during an event.


Bear is made to dance a little jig after it has been beaten by the dogs!

Prize money?

At some events up to 2 000 rupees.


One bear had his nose almost entirely ripped open. He had to endure another three further attacks after his first fight. One female bear had to endure three attacks until she was exhausted.

Why is this continuing to happen?

  • Power of the land owner/organisers and patrons.
  • Lack of resources and will of local Governments in Punjab and Sindh to stop it.
  • Landowners are not religious followers of Islam.


Landowners have easy access to bears, held by the gypsies and to show of their dogs at any time.


Gypsies also dance their bears at weddings for additional income.


Gypsies pass the "profession" down from generations to generation.


Most have large families to support, care for their bears and give medical treatment after fights (if the they can afford to do so).

What does Habitat Integrated Pakistan plan to do?

  • To set up a sanctuary for the confiscated bears - Pakistan Government to oversee it.
  • A registration system such as microchip tagging of all bears in captivity.
  • No new born bears to be captured and traded.
  • Confiscation of any unregistered bears found.
  • Update national laws in these regions.
  • School children must be educated and public awareness campaign has begun, to teach morals and ethnic arguments against bear baiting. Public poster and school talks have been introduced.

What does the audience think?

  • They sit 10 - 15 meters away, so they cannot see the bear clearly.
  • Think its harmless.
  • Think the animals are not fatally wounded.
  • Some think the bear is a demon and should be fought.

What do the rural people need?

  • The Government to raise their level of education and standards of living.
  • Public awareness campaign aiming to dent the power of these landlords.

WSPA needs to lobby for a permanent officer within the Wildlife Department for enforcement of this.


"This year the Himilayan Wildlife Foundation is in its eighth year since its inception.

The Deosai National Park has come a long way since its establishment and since the start of our involvement in the management of the Park with the cooperation of Northern Areas Forests, Parks and Wildlife Department and the Park's surrounding communities. The success of the project is clearly visible by tangible accomplishments achieved on the ground, some of which are: Protection of wildlife, flora and fauna; establishment with continued management of checkposts on the entrances of the Park; defining and implementing zoning areas for grazing; creating job opportunities for local people by hiring them for project work; undertaking nature tours; helping locals to setup camps for visitors in designated areas; educating the locals of the area by giving them awareness presentations; printing and distribution of brochures and pamphlets to local and international tourists; assisting research work on the ecosystem of the Park, and especially the Himalayan Brown Bear.

Some of the research team that have visited the Deosai are: a team from Royal Botanic Gardens, zoologists from Orange Free State University, South African National Parks Board, US Fish and Wildlife Department, Hungarian Natural History Museum and a number of Pakistan research institutions.

"A staff of seven is working in the field and managing the checkposts (all locals of the area). There is a community coordinator in Skardu and there are four coordinators in Islamabad who make frequent trips to Doosai during the season.

"Seven bears have been successfully collared. There is no evidence that any of the bears have been poached. However, bears in the past have been poached but this have been significantly reduced in the recent past due to the introduction of an effective management system in the Park.

"Till 1998 the Deosai National Park through the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation was funded by UNDP's Small Grants Programme. This year there has been private donations; but the bulk of the expenses will have to be met by the coordinators from their own sources. The coordinators do not draw salary or any benefits for their time and work Therefore, any outside donation is of much help to us. The funds by The Bear Group S.A., will primarily be used for salaries and logistic expenses of the field staff and staff at the checkpost." - By Mujahid Ahmad of the Himalayan Wildlife Foundation.

In May 2000 The Bear Group S.A. donated $1000-00 to The Himalayan Wildlife Project in Pakistan.


HWF e-mail

The Himalayan Wildlife Foundation (HWF) is a non-profit, non-govemmental organisation dedicated to safeguarding the biodiversity of Pakistan's Northern Areas. The Deosai National Park (DNP) project has been in operation since 1993 and has been instrumental in efforts to alleviate the endangered status of the Himalayan brown bear.

HWF is striving to heighten awareness among the communities on the periphery of Deosai Plains. The field staff of HWF conducts surveys at regular intervals to document the movement, behaviour and mortality of the bears with the assistance of the South African National Parks Board and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Radio collars have been placed on seven bears and their movements are tracked on a regular basis.

The Deosai Plains are a breathtaking extravaganza of nature. The flowers, the lakes, the grasslands and the streams are important components of this beauty. The presence of wildlife nurtures the ecological balance in the area. If the brown bear perishes, Deosai will be one step closer to becoming a wasteland. If it survives, the balance of nature will be assured for the next millennium.

HWF has been active in the prevention of the following:

  • Hunting of bears for supply of bear fat and parts to the local markets.
  • Poaching of bear cubs for sale to gypsies.
  • Poaching of falcons for sale in down country markets and export.
  • Hunting of himalayan ibex.
The institutional framework for Deosai remains fragile and weak- No specific funding is available for staff positions, operational expenses and development of infrastructure. In the absence of resources HWF has had to rely more or less entirely on its own resources.

Through the protection measures introduced in Deosai, HWF has been able to arrest the damage that was taking place due to increasing levels of human intervention. The management have already started showing results in terms of increase in the population of key species such as the bears, ibex and fish. HWF have not been able to completely control the illegal activities. With extremely limited staff and logistics constraints, the level of vigilance is still inadequate. Additional efforts are needed at the local level to improve the level of involvement of the local communities in park management.

The brown bear has served as an indicator species and much of the initial project efforts were concentrated on research on the bears.

HWF has gradually revised its strategy for involving the communities to include all the villages in the periphery of Deosai and populatiotis from towns such as Astore and Skardu, This has helped in mobilising the public opinion to generate support for enforcement of park rules and regulations and in gaining the goodwill of the residents.