KP Sharma

Forestry officials are monitoring the movement of a Himalayan Black bear that disappeared after consuming XXX rum mixed with residue of ara (locally brewed alcohol) on January 3. 

This happened after the bear entered a store above the Dantak headquarters at Babesa, the day before, and emptied a bucket of ara residue. At around 2 am on January 3, an unusual noise woke up Ugyen Pelzom. Peeping from her window, she saw the bear in the store looking for food. There was also a video of the intruder – a healthy-looking bear.  Scared and worried, she informed forestry officials. 

 “It was busy feeding on leftover food and salt which I have kept for my neighbour’s cattle shed,” she said. A forest official rushed to the site but the bear had already escaped to the nearby forest. Next day, a group of forest officials visited the site to check if the animal was still roaming around her residence. 

To her surprise, the bear re-appeared after the officials left the site. “It was only around 8 or 9 pm then when it came again.” A neighbour suggested placing alcohol to make the bear drunk and inform forestry. The bear came, drank the rum and disappeared again.

A person nearby expressed safety concerns as the area is populated. An official from the Department of Forest and Park Services said that encountering bears in the periphery of the town is increasing. He blamed habitat destruction from the expansion of settlement and infrastructure. Lack of food, he added, was another reason why wild animals are entering the town and human settlement. 

The official said poor food waste management practice among the people in urban areas is the leading factor in frequent appearance of wild animals in the town. “People must take care of food waste if wild animals’ were to be avoided,” he said. It is also believed that bears can smell alcohol from a long distance.  

The bear, if caught, will be relocated to a safer place.  Officials have set camera traps to monitor the movement of the bear.  As of yesterday, there is no news of the bear reappearing.