Bear kills Indian couple on their way back from temple, eats bodies for hours
In India, a sloth bear killed a man and woman before feeding for hours on their corpses. Authorities said the incident happened on Sunday as the couple walked back from a shrine in a nature reserve.
Mukesh Rai, 43, and his wife Gudiya, 39, were traveling through a forest in Panna, a region of central Indian state Madhya Pradesh, on their way home from Khermai shrine when they came upon a sloth bear.
The attack took place around 6:30 a.m., less than a mile from their home.
The bear “tore their bodies apart” and proceeded to devour their remains for at least four hours before the police and forest department arrived, according to the Times of India.
Bear assaults are uncommon in India, although they are significantly more common in forested areas. In a 2015 study of attacks in Central India, researchers discovered that the vast majority of victims had facial and/or scalp injuries.
All of the 48 attacks investigated involved sloth bears.
The bear that killed the Panna couple was said to have been tranquilized and captured after a two-hour operation.
“The animal will not be released in the jungle,” Divisional Forest Officer Gaurav Sharma told DNA India. “We aim to send it to a zoo in another city.”
The family of the deceased couple has been handed 400,000 Rupee ($5,000) in financial support. Locals mounted a demonstration after the couple died, according to the Times of India, demanding jobs for their family members.
Sloth bears are found only in parts of South Asia, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. They are similar in size to the American black bear, and females can weigh up to 124 kg (273 lb) while males can weigh up to 192 kg (423 lb).
Sloth bears are unusual in that they are rarely found near human settlements and eat a primarily vegetarian diet: in Tamil Nadu, southern India, fruit appears to make up 90% of the bears' diet, with the rest consisting of flowers, ants and termites, and the occasional small mammal or reptile.
Baloo the bear from Disney's The Jungle Book was originally imagined as a sloth bear. So why would an ostensibly kind monster attack and eat two people?
Sloth bears are one of the most aggressive bear species, and they are the species with the highest number of recorded human attacks.
They are presumably predators, as they have been recorded reacting to human presence in the same way they would to predators like tigers or leopards, roaring and striking before fleeing.
Bear populations in India, Nepal, and Bhutan have been fragmented as a result of deforestation and agricultural habitat degradation outside of protected areas.
This has left only a few tiny populations with limited genetic variety, many of whom are subjected to continuous poaching and are unable to recover due to their poor reproductive rate.
In their search for sustenance, bears are drawn to human communities, but not in the form of humans, but in the shape of waste. Humans often do not want bears roaming around settlements, which exacerbates the human-bear conflict.
As a result of all of these issues, the sloth bear has been designated as an endangered species in India.
John Carter has been a content and ‘ghostwriter' for many popular online publications over the years. John is now our chief editor at NewsGrab.