Note: Orang asli = aborigines
MIDDLEMEN are using the Orang Asli to hunt endangered animals.As the Orang Asli are allowed to hunt certain animals for their own consumption, the middlemen pay them to trap and kill wildlife that is in demand in the market.
Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Khairiah Mohd Shariff says the Orang Asli are targeting leopards and bears.
She says the syndicates rely on the Orang Asli to trap the animals as they realise that these people are familiar with the routes used by the animals as well as their resting places.
"Our investigations reveal that the Orang Asli will capture the endangered clouded monitor lizards usually found in oil palm plantations and hand them over to middlemen. The lizards are usually destined for cooking pots in exotic meat restaurants overseas.
"The demand for the wildlife has spurred the Orang Asli to hunt for the animals as they have come to realise the high value of certain animals."
Khairiah says the syndicates are using the Orang Asli to shield their activities from the authorities.
She says Perhilitan officers have, on numerous occasions, spotted Orang Asli selling the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (burung serindit) along the Kuantan-Segamat Highway but nowadays, the Orang Asli have become bolder and are keeping wildlife organs in their homes.
In a recent seizure, the department found chunks of leopard, bear and deer meat as well as slaughtered mousedeer in a refrigerator at an Orang Asli village headman's house.
Several days later, the department rescued 41 endangered clouded monitor lizards from a nearby Orang Asli settlement. Both seizures took place in Pahang.
Read more: Orang Asli lured into trapping rich pickings http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/12midd/Article/#ixzz1NtwzOono
Malayan sun bears, also known as honey bears (or Helarctos malayanus), are the least known of the world’s eight bear species. Few people know they even exist, especially compared with other types of bears, like polar bears and grizzlies.
Perhaps part of that is because sun bears are so challenging to study. They’re the smallest bear species. They weigh just 100 pounds and are less than half the size of a North American black bear.
To complicate matters, they have black fur and spend their time in the trees of Southeast Asia’s dense tropical rainforests-making simply finding them a tricky task. In this case, out of sight has meant out of mind-and little attention has been given to this endangered species.
But one man, Malaysian biologist Siew Te Wong, has dedicated his life to changing the status of what he calls “the forgotten bear.” He’s one of the world’s few sun bear researchers and also founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah, Malaysia.
Wong has successfully overcome many research challenges. Because failure is the mother of all invention, his difficulties forced him to design new equipment and take new approaches to get to know this species. For instance, he devised a new type of trap that he could break down and backpack into the forest.
He’s also experimented with bait to attract the animals so that he could radio collar them for study. While it was never his intent, with much trial and error he eventually became “top chef” to these endearing creatures when he hit on the perfect recipe (that is, chicken guts). The result of his over 15 years of effort: a wealth of data about the biology, habits and range of this elusive bear.
For instance, his study of wild sun bears shows that they are diurnal and not nocturnal, as is commonly assumed. Rather, he notes that sun bears that live close to human typically switch their activities to nighttime to avoid human confrontation.
He’s also uncovered the bear’s favorite food. Any guesses? According to Wong, it’s beetle larvae! Though he’s never been tempted to try one himself, Wong enjoys watching the bears dig into a decayed piece of wood with such fierce concentration that it may be hours until they finally find their three-inch reward.
The moment they fish one out, they pull their facial muscles back in a smile, close their eyes and let their big, fat, juicy “packed-with-protein” prize melt in their mouth. Wong says, “it’s like they’re having the best chocolate in their life!”
Sun bears’ love for invertebrates helps the ecosystem in two critical ways. First, by eating pests like termites that kill or infest trees, sun bears help maintain healthy forests providing an important pest control service. Second, in their hunt for bugs, sun bears will smash termite mounds and crack open tree cavities, which in turn creates new nesting and feeding sites for other species, like flying squirrels. In essence, that makes them “ecosystem engineers.”
Sun bears serve another important ecosystem function: seed dispersers. They often feed on large fruit with sizeable pits, like durian, that are too big for other species. Then, by depositing the pits far from the mother trees, the bears facilitate germination and increase the survival rate of seedlings, thus helping to “plant the forest.”
Despite the sun bears role in helping to maintain their forest home, they face multiple threats, so much so that they are listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits their commercial trade. Unsustainable logging and expansion of industrial palm oil plantations are already destroying significant swaths of their tropical habitat. In addition, pet trade and uncontrolled poaching for their parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicine, imperil the species.
Nobody knows how many sun bears remain in the wild. Many scientists say they’re the rarest of the bear species and suggest their numbers have fallen by more than 30 percent in the last 30 years. Wong has tried to estimate sun bear populations but has failed thus far because he hasn’t found a reliable method.
One survey technique used by scientists for species like tigers assesses the capture and recapture rate by remote cameras and extrapolates from there. But this approach won’t work for sun bears because individuals cannot be identified from a camera picture because they’re just black; they don’t have a special marking.
DNA analysis is another way to get at this information, but collection of a sun bear’s genetic material is quite difficult because in a tropical forest it rains every day. Whatever the number, one thing is certain: rapid loss of forests throughout their range and an active trade in wild bears and their parts point to a bleak future. Yet there is much the average citizen can do.
Wong notes that whenever he’s asked how somebody can help, he always answers, “do whatever you do best!” For instance, artists painting pictures of sun bears, which the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre then sells at auctions to raise funds. Reporters report about the bear.
“There are so many people that have heard about polar bears, grizzly bears and giant pandas,” Wong says, “but they’ve never heard about sun bears. By helping to spread the word about sun bears-showing people pictures of them, putting stories about sun bears on Facebook-they help us to promote awareness.
Unfortunately, our conservation work spends money and, generally, the amount of money we raise reflects the amount of work we can do to help a species. [But] fundraising for an animal that is not well known is not easy.”
If everybody shared information and stories, we could raise the profile-and ultimately the chances of its long-term survival-of this forgotten bear.
For more information: Listen to an interview with sun bear researcher Siew Te Wong on Laurel Neme’s “The WildLife” radio show. Or read an edited transcript on Mongabay.com.
May 17, 2011
Yesterday May 16th was my 42th birthday. At first I was thinking I would spend this day just like my other days - clean our office in the morning (Monday is cleaning day), work, spend time with our bears, and no one will know about my birthday. My family was not with me (have not seen them "physically" for 3 months, :( ) so I will have a quiet birthday. It turned out that what I experienced physically on my birthday was nothing special- no party, no birthday cake, and no birthday candles, but what I experienced in my heart from the cyber world was very special! From midnight of the 16th, friends from my facebook page across the world, many of them I never meet, started to leave me birthday wishes on my facebook profile page. Until today, there were more than 250 birthday wishes on it. I never had so many birthday wishes, ever, in my life. On top of that, my facebook birthday wish has raised US$495 for Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre from 14 donors. Thank you all for your birthday wishes and your donation to help our sun bears. I certainly can feel the positive energy from your wishes, encouragements, complements, and all the positive and cheerful words that you wrote! This energy keeps me and my team going and move forward!
Thank you all for your supports and wishes!
I spent my birthday with the 21 rescued-ex-pet sun bears at BSBCC. Jelita, Cerah and 3 others females came to greed me from their state-of-the-art forest enclosure. Seeing them walking, foraging, and climbing in this forest enclosure with dense vegetations, trees of all sizes, and fill with all kind of life forms are by far the most rewarding and happy experience that I can think of for this special day and all the hard working days in the past. I did not see other bears in their forest enclosure because their enclosures are so dense with vegetation and big that seeing a bear on forest floor or up in the tree canopy are actually very difficult. They live like wild bears! No more bars, no more cement floor, and no pacing. It made me feel that I have a purpose to serve in my life when I was born some 42 years ago.
I walked Natalie for few hours in the forest. She is now capable of climbing high on tree and do all the wild things that a sun bear would do in the forest. Very few people actually know how hard we work to make this project possible until this point. Seeing all of these bears free from cages and enjoy the mighty and magnificent forest make all the hard works over the last 6 years pay off.
Thank you all of you, especially those who help us in many ways to make BSBCC a successful project. Now most of our sun bears can enjoy the sun in the forest that they call home!
Thank you all of you who donated money for my birthday wish for BSBCC and wish me a happy birthday. I have a great birthday, despite a lonely birthday without family, and love ones. Thank you is the only thing I can say to you all.
Please continue to help us, support us, and help us spread the words and love for this little known bears!
Recently they did another "update" of my work and my story..
Text by Shauna Tay, Photos Siew Te Wong
Natalie, our baby of the centre, is becoming our wildest. Being a young cub, she is somewhat controllable when taking her outdoors. We are able to walk side by side with her into any patch of forest and let her do her thing. She’s now become so confident in climbing and foraging that it makes you realise how wild these bears are meant be.
She’s improved with each time I’ve seen her out. Wai Pak and Paul had said that previously when they took her out she just wanted to play and interact with them. However now she doesn’t take any notice of us. She shoots up trees and climbs to the very top with all her strength.
It was amazing watching this 6 month old sun bear sync in with her wild instincts and naturally make her way up the trees and branches. She knew that clawing at rotting wood would find her termites, and that climbing higher up a tree would find her new sights and smells she hadn’t encountered before.
Although we can see she knows what to do in her habitat, it doesn’t erase the fact that she needs her mother. Sun bear cubs usually stay with their mothers until they are 2 years old. Now, this 6 month baby cub has no mother, and probably doesn’t remember much about ever having one. It makes you sad thinking about how she could be out in the wild with her mother if it weren’t for hunters and poachers. This is the harsh world we live in.
While working against that, we have hope for these bears. They’ve lived hard, unnatural lives, but with BSBCC’s dedication we hope they’ll soon be able to have that life they’re meant to live.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 11th May 2011—Poaching and illegal trade of bears, driven largely by the demand for bile, used in traditional medicine and folk remedies continues unabated across Asia on a large scale, a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has found.
Bear bile products were found on sale in Traditional Medicine outlets in all but one of the 13 countries/territories surveyed says the report entitled Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia (PDF, 2 MB). The exception is Macao.
Products were most frequently observed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, where they were recorded in over half of all outlets surveyed. The most frequently encountered products were whole bear gall bladders and pills—found in half of the outlets surveyed.
TRAFFIC’s research suggests a complex and robust trade in bear products. Several of the countries/territories surveyed were either producers or consumers of bear bile products, while in some cases they acted as both.
Mainland China was the most commonly reported place of origin for these products across the region.
In Myanmar, internationally sourced gall bladders were reported to come solely from Lao PDR; in Hong Kong, in cases where the source was known, products were reported to have originated in Japan and over half of those offered for sale in the South Korea were from wild sources in Russia.
Domestic trade of bear bile is legal under strict regulation within mainland China and Japan but is illegal in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Regardless of the legality of trade within countries, international trade is not allowed.
Asiatic Black Bears (predominant in this trade) and Sun Bears are both listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which prohibits international commercial trade in the species, its parts and derivatives.
An analysis of the origin of bear bile products found in these surveys makes it clear that import and export regulations are commonly flouted demonstrating a failure to implement CITES requirements to stop illegal international bear bile trade effectively and protect bears from exploitation.
“Unbridled illegal trade in bear parts and products continues to undermine CITES which should be the world’s most powerful tool to regulate cross-border wildlife trade,” said Kaitlyn-Elizabeth Foley, lead author of the report and Senior Programme Officer of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
The study found that the vast majority of the bear farms surveyed in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam did not have captive breeding programmes, suggesting they depend on bears captured from the wild.
“The study makes a clear case for authorities to shut down businesses selling illegal bear products and prosecute individuals caught selling, buying, transporting or keeping bears illegally,” said Foley.
“Both the Asiatic Black Bear and the Sun Bear are threatened by poaching and illegal trade. The demand for bile is one of the greatest drivers behind this trade and must be reduced if bear conservation efforts are to succeed,” added Foley.
“Even legal bear bile producers are circumventing domestic and international regulations by exporting products internationally,” said Dr Jill Robinson MBE, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia Foundation, which rescues bears from farms in China and Viet Nam.
“This report, in addition to Animals Asia’s years of research, shows that the bear bile industry is engaging in illegal practices. As pressure mounts on the wild bear population, there are serious questions to be answered on the welfare and pathology of farmed bears, and the risks to human health in those who consume the contaminated bile from such sick and diseased bears,” said Robinson.
The study’s main findings are:
• Bear bile products were observed in traditional medicine outlets in 12 out of 13 Asian countries/territories surveyed
• Bear bile products were available at 50% or more of traditional medicine outlets surveyed in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
• China is the most commonly reported source for bear bile products
A short presentation can be viewed at:
For further information:
Kaitlyn Elizabeth-Foley, Senior Programme Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: ++603 7880 3940, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: ++603 7880 3940, email@example.com
Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC. Tel: +44 1223 279068, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Original posted on http://thebodyshop.com.my/wheres-my-mama
Where's my mama?Kuala Lumpur, 18 April 2011
Every day, countless young wild animals are orphaned when their mothers are captured or slaughtered for the illegal wildlife trade. Many young are also taken from the wild and end up in the illegal trade because someone wants a cute pet.
Now, The Body Shop with the help of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia are calling attention to this problem with the "Where's My Mama?" campaign, that urges the public to consider the impact of their purchases. After the awareness created with the Save Temengor Campaign, The Body Shop continues to protect our planet, this time around by drawing attention to the animals in the wild that are in need of protection.
The campaign features the orang-utan, tiger and bear, all of which are affected by this aspect of illegal wildlife trade.
For each young Orang-utan found in trade, an estimated two to four others die. Some experts place the figure as high as eight. There are two species of orang-utan – the Sumatran and the Bornean, both of which are in serious trouble. Trade in young animals as pets, coupled with huge levels of habitat loss have pushed Asia's only great apes to the brink of extinction.
Adult tigers are hunted and snared to feed the demand for tiger parts, leaving cubs to fend for themselves. Of the nine subspecies, only six survive today. Less than a century ago more than 100,000 tigers roamed Asia's forests but today, largely due to poaching to supply the demand for their parts used in traditional medicines and as trophies, only approximately 3000 survive. And the poaching continues.
Malaysia's only bear species, the Malayan sun bear, is the smallest of the world's eight bear species. And they are in trouble. Adult bears are illegally hunted for their gall bladder, their meat and body parts. Orphaned cubs are defenseless, as they rely entirely on their mother for the first two years of their life – when the mother is killed, the cubs perish. Sadly, the cubs are also captured for the pet trade or to be put on display in zoos.
In hopes of stopping this illegal trade and to draw and awareness to the plight of these animals, The Body Shop Malaysia will run its signature "Kick the Bag" campaign, asking the public to report illegal wildlife trade to the Wildlife Crime Hotline. These paper bags, act as a tool to help spread the word and draw awareness to the campaign. In store, The Body Shop will run the campaign until till the end of the month by giving out postcards to customers that frequent the stores.
We do this at The Body Shop not because it is fashionable, but because to us it's the only way.
Across SE Asia, numerous baby and orphaned sun bears fall victims of pet trade, poaching, and "animal loving" behavior. Just two last week ago, I was asked to help and to give advice on two pet sun bears in Sintang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia Borneo. The owner of this baby bear, Kulik, want keep him because he "love" this bear so much and refuse to surrender to a better home. The negotiation still on going to find a better home for him.
Is Mother's Day, but where's my mama?
Text by Shauna Tay; Photos by Siew Te Wong
The independent women (sun bears la..) of BSBCC – Cerah, Jelita, and Lawa – were let out into a newly secure forest enclosure (Enclosure C) last week . They’ve previously been out into Enclosure D on a regular basis and have all become confident to outdoors. On the 20th of April we had fixed Enclosure C where the fence were damaged by fallen branches that was much larger and with more new trees, vegetation, and smells for them to discover.
Some background knowledge about these three ladies; all sent at different times from Lok Kawi Zoo in Kota Kinabalu. Their ages range from 4-5 years, with Lawa as the dominant one in the group. Cerah and Jelita are the best of friends (which is surprising as bears are usually solitary animals) and absolutely adore each other’s company.
On Day 1 Cerah and Jelita had gone out happily into this big patch of forest. However Lawa stayed back in the pen – still building up the courage to go out as this was a whole new area. For their 2 o’clock meal of fruits, we had scattered them all over the outdoor enclosure to encourage them to eat out in the forest, where they should, rather than in their pen. This is also done to encourage foraging – a very important skill for a wild bear to have.
While Lawa hung around in their pen, Cerah and Jelita decided to be rebels. They didn’t come back in for their 4 o’clock porridge meal, yet decided to keep on exploring outdoors throughout the night! Although this was not planned, it’s actually a great thing as they would be able to find places for themselves to sleep outside, and also have the opportunity to build their own nests. We had left their pen door open for them to come back when they were ready, and sure enough they were sitting there with open arms for their breakfast in the morning.
Day 2, 3, 4 and 5 went on pretty much the same except that Cerah and Jelita actually returned for their evening meals rather than staying out all night. Day 6, Lawa finally stepped foot into the outdoor enclosure at 2pm. All three of the ladies are outside in the wilderness tonight. Hopefully with more observations, they’ll be in the queue to be released out into the wild – for good.