Fallacy And AbsurdityWith the demand of traditional medicine seekers, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild – BSBCC Wong By Jaswinder Kler
SANDAKAN: Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat. The fallacy of the benefits of bile and the idiocy of humans is threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades. Asiatic Black Bears, for example, are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid. While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally. Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores. Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.
“Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree. However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree. They then recover quickly and go about their day. “This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly. “This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said. With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild, Wong said in a statement to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears. While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List are not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.
BSBCC founder and CEO Wong Siew Te with rescued Sun Bear, Natalie. As cubs, bears are cute but the law does not allow anyone to keep them as pets. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC. Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both. Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak. Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade. “Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet. To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed. Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets. “This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said. Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.
Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year. The BSBCC is planning to hold a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.
Sun Bears are also sought after for the pet trade, but problems emerge once the bears grow older and become aggressive. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC. The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will see Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears, apart from an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan and performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends. A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations. The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP). Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations.
Topics: Malayan sun bear ? Malayan sun bears ? Wildlife Alliance Two rare Malayan sun bears have been rescued in Cambodia after being discovered in an abandoned garment factory, a zoo official said Friday. The male and female bears were rescued by officials from the Phnom Tamao Zoo and the Wildlife Alliance, who found them in the factory in southern Kandal province last week, according to zoo director Nhek Rattanak Pich. “The bears were left with no food and no one to care for them after the factory owner fled the country,” the Wildlife Alliance said on its website.
The group said local authorities had called them after the bears were found in purpose-built cages at the factory, which closed without notice in December. The bears are now being cared for at the zoo, its director said, adding that he did not know why they had been kept at the factory. The Malayan sun bear is found primarily in Southeast Asia and is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Bears are among many species that have been decimated by wildlife trafficking in Asia, which is fuelled in large part by China’s massive appetite for exotic meats and animal parts for traditional medicine.
"Friend" is the people who play an important role in our human daily life. They may be able to be our supporter, person who assists you, giving you a positive effect and sharing most of their life experience with you.
Same as what have happened at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) on 4th May 2012 evening, we received a sun bear from Penampang, named Ah Bui, which means "friend" in local Murut language.
Ah Bui, the latest rescued sun bear at BSBCC
Ah Bui is a female sub-adult sun bear about two year old. She was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department's (SWD) Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) on May 2nd in a housing area at Penampang near Kota Kinabalu. The owner claimed that the bear was obtained from Sook at Keningau area.
Ah Bui arrived at our centre on the evening of May 4th.
Staffs from BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department moved Ah Bui to her new environment!
Ah Bui being moved to her temporary cage
He is believed to look for a potential buyer of the bear as local market for bear parts still exist. Luckily the SWD's officer managed to discover and rescued Ah Bui before she end up in cooking pot or as traditional medicine.
Ah Bui means "friend" in local Murut language
Ah Bui is still trying to settle down and adapt slowly to our center environment. We hope she will get use her new home and make some new “Ah Bui” as well.