After Horses fighting to death for Muslim entertainment in the Philippines. Now Bear Bating in Pakistan. The rules are simple: a pair of trained fighting dogs are unleashed on a tethered bear whose claws and sharpest teeth have been removed

A bear attempts to fend off attacks from specially trained dogs at a bear baiting event.

Although the bear baiting was banned in Pakistan in 1980 by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it continues to prevail in deeply rural tribal regions. Landlords are extremely powerful figures in certain areas of rural Pakistan. They are the main actors behind these fights, which they organise for several reasons. Firstly, the events are intended to draw large crowds – and therefore more money – to village fairs in the landlord’s territory. But mainly, the landlords want to prove they are above the law: defying the government ban against bear baiting is a way of flexing their political muscles.

Dog owners pull the dogs off the bear after several minutes of fighting. Although the bears are often injured, they are too valuable to their gypsie owners – who use them over multiple fights – to be killed.

Animal protection groups like the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have worked with Pakistani authorities to try to eradicate the practice. According to the WSPA, education campaigns and crackdowns on bear-baiting events have helped stop 80% of planned bear baiting events since 2001, and led to the successful rescue of 40 bears. Nevertheless, the group estimates there are some 70 bears still being made to fight in Pakistan.

The Kund Bear Sanctuary was set up in 2000 near the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar to provide a safe haven for baited bears that were confiscated from their owners.

A toothless bear injured after a fight wih dogs.

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