Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary
Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary is situated in the Banaskantha district formerly under Palanpur State in the Indian state of Gujarat at the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. It was declared as a sanctuary in May 1978, covering an area of about 180 square kilometres (69 sq mi), principally for protection of the sloth bear, which is now categorized as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Their numbers are declining in the wild and they are threatened with extinction.
The name “sloth” is said to be the epithet travellers and hunters in India gave to the bear when they saw it hanging upside down from branches of trees and consequently they identified it with sloth, an animal that hangs upside down. While it is now known as sloth bear, initially it was called “bear sloth” since the game hunters identified this species with the sloth of South America as the physical characteristics and arboreal habits of both species matched. Towards the later part of the 18th century, its scientific name was Ursine bradypus, Ursiform sloth or Bradypus ursinus. But when in the early 19th century, a sloth bear, housed in a zoo in France, was examined, scientists identified it correctly as a bear species and thereafter the name was changed from “bear sloth” to “sloth bear”. Jessore hill, which is the back drop to the sanctuary, is also prefixed to form the full name “Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary”
The sanctuary is located in the Jessore hills of Aravalli hills, to the north of the Thar desert. The sanctuary area lies between the desert ecosystem and the dry deciduous type of ecosystem, and the forested area helps in arresting desertification and advancement of Thar desert.
The Sanctuary also houses two temples (one of them is the Kedarnath Mahadev temple), which are frequented by a large number of pilgrims during October–November, and a protected sacred grove.
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