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misha bear cub

Brown bear cub rescued near Georgian border by international conservation effort

Posted on: 11.04.11 (Last edited) 11 April 2011

Eight-month old male cub symbolic of conservation in the region

Fauna & Flora International (FFI), NACRES and UK NGO Hauser Bears have rescued an eight-month old orphaned brown bear cub, Misha, from a village near the disputed boundary between South Ossetia and the Republic of Georgia.

“Rescuing Misha was a great example of a team effort between NGOs with the support of the Georgian government and a wonderful outcome for a young bear.” said Gareth Goldthorpe, FFI’s Project Field Coordinator in Georgia.

The European Union Monitoring Mission first spotted Misha in a village near Gori, while on a routine patrol.

It is suspected that the bear was orphaned by hunters who still prize adult bears for their skins. Unfortunately, after such long exposure to people, and at such a young age, any attempts to return it to the forest would likely end in disaster for the cub.

Misha is now temporarily housed at Tbillisi Zoo in Georgia, awaiting his departure for the Libearty Bear Sanctuary; 170 acres of rolling hills, trees and ponds in a valley in Transylvania, Romania, where over 50 European brown bears live.

“Misha is a beautiful cub and we are delighted to have rescued him but, unfortunately, there are many challenges for bear conservation.

The problem here is that, whilst there is a law to protect wild bears from captivity, there are no facilities to house confiscated animals. This means that the law simply doesn’t get enforced.

Misha is very lucky in that so many people rallied to his plight; there are still many bears in the country that need rescuing ” said Gareth.

In many ways, Misha has become symbolic of bear conservation in the region.

Recently wildlife documentary filmmaker Fergus Beeley – who has worked with Sir David Attenborough on a variety of documentaries – has been to Georgia to document Misha’s journey as part of a film he is making on bear conservation in the region.

Written by
Georgina Kenyon

Georgina has been writing about science and conservation for over ten years - online, print and for NGOs and a UN agency. Ever since hearing the mating call of a tortoise -something between the rumbling of a whale and a vuvuzela-on the small island of Ile Aigrettes in Mauritius, Georgina has been hooked on reptiles and endangered creatures. Originally from Australia, Georgina recommends that travellers look under the waters for the real beauty of Sydney--it is there that you will see the glorious wobbegong carpet shark.

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