Christian Long

Kartick Sayyanarayan: How We Rescued the Dancing Bears

In TED Talks on May 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

Extra credit reflection by KEITH C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Kartick Sayyanarayan:  How We Rescued the Dancing Bears

First off, I really enjoyed this heart-warming video and how the issue of the dancing bears was addressed. Before seeing this video, I had no knowledge of the practice of bear dancing. At the beginning of the video, Kartick explains how 1995 he had started an investigated research project to find an explanation to why the wild population of the sloth was being depleted. Then Kartick introduces the Islamic Kalander people that live across India. This family of Kalanders depends on the money they make from selling and trading theses bears to support the economy of their family. Each bear sells for about 2,000 and can be sold to make “bear paw soup” or to be trained to become a dancing bear. As I watch this video I, as well as anyone else seeing bear cubs sold to be made into soup, feel much sorrow towards the bears. However I also realize that without these bears the Kalander community would have no way of making a living to support their family. I think the reason I like this video so much is because of the compromise that is found to keep the families economically stable while saving the bears from abuse and torture.

As Kartick did more and more research he found out that the practice of training bears to dance for tourist was actually illegal and could be punishable with seven years imprisonment under Indian Law. The reasons for this practice being banned are just horrific. The bear cubs were being poached from the wild and their mothers were being killed. These bears had their canine teeth bashed out and the males were castrated. They also very not given any sort of veterinarian care, their muzzles were pierced, and they would have to live tied up by a rope for the rest of their lives.

What happens next is amazing to me. They way that Kartick and his team solve the major predicament it truly astonishing. The problem was that the bears obviously needed to be saved, but that would leave the Kalanders jobless and have no means of providing money for their family. So Kartick and his team came up with a solution to rescue the bears from the Kalanders and give them a new occupation. For example, for their first experiment with this solution, they gave an owner to surrender his bear and in return they gave him some “seed fund”. With that money this man opened up his own cool drinks both near the highway. After this great turnout, many Kalanders began surrendering their bears like Sadua. Sadua now has a cattle fodder and grain store. Kartick and his team continued to give out job opportunities to those who had previously practiced bear dancing.

They also ensured a brighter future for the Kalander people by giving the children a better education then they had before.

Towards the end of the video Kartick announces that when in the next month, the very last bear will be rescued. To me this is beyond words. I can not give enough props to Kartick and his team for accomplishing such a feat.


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