Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia 16th November 2012—“Traditional medicine practitioners have a crucial role to play in reducing the demand for bear bile and gallbladder that drives the illegal trade in South-East Asia’s bears,” TRAFFIC told delegates to the 9th World Congress of Chinese Medicine held in Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia last week.
The Congress, one of the industry’s most important annual gatherings, serves as a platform for specialists from all over the world to present the latest developments in Chinese medicine. The theme of this year’s Congress was Traditional Chinese Medicine—contributing factor to the harmony of humans and nature.
Speaking at the Congress, TRAFFIC Deputy Regional Director in South-East Asia, Dr Chris R. Shepherd, described how TRAFFIC’s research had shown that continued demand for traditional medicines made from bear parts and derivatives posed a severe threat to wild bear populations in Asia.
Both bear species in South-East Asia—the Asian Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus—are hunted, especially for their gallbladder, which contains bile—a key ingredient in some traditional medicines.
A 2011 TRAFFIC study, Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia (PDF, 1 MB), had shown such trade to be widespread, often carried out openly, despite it being illegal, and revealed that many of the farms supplying bear gallbladder and bile are stocking their facilities with wild-caught bears and not captive bred ones as often claimed.
Surveys have repeatedly found China to be the main source of the bear bile products on sale throughout South-East Asia. Such international trade in South-East Asian bears, and their parts and derivatives, is strictly prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Both South-East Asian bear species are listed in Appendix I of the Convention, which prohibits international commercial trade. They are also both listed as Vulnerable by IUCN, because of their declining populations in the wild.
In September 2012, a Motion to phase out bear bile extraction facilities stocked with wild-caught bears was overwhelmingly passed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held in Jeju, South Korea.
The Motion also recommended Parties to CITES to implement fully the legislation to prevent illegal international trade in Asian Black and Sun Bears and products derived from them, and promote greater public awareness of these issues to reduce the demand for bear products.
“While the IUCN Motion is a step in the right direction, it is absolutely critical too that efforts be made to reduce greatly the demand for bear bile. In addition to increased enforcement efforts, active participation from the traditional medicine practitioners and retailers is essential to meet this goal,” said Shepherd.
TRAFFIC is also urging authorities to step up their efforts to shut down the illegal trade, and ensure those violating CITES and national legislations are penalized.
“There are legal herbal alternatives to bear bile – consumers need to be made aware of this and be persuaded to stop using medicine containing bear bile,” added Shepherd.
Text by Chiew Lin May and Joanna Yeo Mei Ling
Photo by Dawn Serene and Tee Thye Lim
As we approach the end of the year, it is time for the sun bears at BSBCC to do their annual health check. Typically conducted within the time frame of an hour, the purpose of the check up is to allow the Veterinary team to make a full assessment of the sun bears’ health status. These include an assessment of their overall health, potential sickness (e.g. signs of distress, ill-health, disease, injury etc.), functioning of the internal organs, healing rate of their wounds and physical being. If needed, medications and treatments are also provided during the examination. The veterinary team has been very helpful in giving advices and instructions for the care of our sun bears.
The first two bears to undergo health examination were female adult sun bears, Keningau (12 years old) and Susie (6 years old). This time round, the health check is done by a veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department with the help of senior ranger Mr. Elis Tambing. Conducted in the morning, the entire procedure took around 2 hours to complete.
A typical health check starts off with the bears being put on general anesthesia. Following, the veterinary team will perform a thorough check on the bears’ health that includes the measurement of their weight, a check through of their physical condition, temperature, pulse and respiration rate as well as an inspection of their teeth, claw and joints. Blood and hair samples were also obtained to do further testings on potential infections by parasites. A few members of the BSBCC team, Gloria, Dawn, Thye Lim, Beyri and myself were also there to assist the veterinary team.
The procedure will then end off with the sun bears being brought back to their dens and monitoring the condition of the bears. For the coming weeks, the same routine will be conducted on the rest of the bears at the centre.
Text by Dawn Tukalan and photo by Tee Thye Lim
The sun bear cub that was found wondering around at someone's car porch in a residential area at Damai, Kota Kinabalu has been sent to BSBCC on last 5th November 2012 (Monday night). She was reported and captured by the Civil Defense Department, handed to Lok Kawi Zoo and later sent to BSBCC by Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit.
For more information about how was baby Damai found, please read the articles posted at newspaper few days ago.
Click the link below:
Man Finds Sun Bear Outside His Home - The Stars
Mystery of The Sun Bear At Car Porch - The Stars
Cub Found Could Be Illegally Reared: Dept - Daily Express
We named this female sun bear cub “Damai”, after the place where she was found. Damai means "peace" in Malay. Weighing at 5kg, we estimated Damai is about 4 months old. When she arrived, she has a strong smell of pandan (an aromatic tropical plant) attached to her as her transportation cage was filled with pandan leaves.
She looks healthy and active as she started climbing and biting the things around her including the BSBCC caregiver.
We will try our best to provide her an ideal environment so that she will be back to the forest in the near future.
Sunday November 4, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: How a sun bear cub ended up at a car porch of a house in Damai, a bustling housing area here, is likely to remain a mystery.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the three-month-old female cub found by a resident two days ago could have been illegally reared.
“When our officers went back to the place to ask about it the next morning, no one owned up to it,” he said.
Damai is a mere 10-minute drive from here.
Ambu said those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Borneon sun bear could face a mandatory jail term between one month and a year.
The presence of the 4kg cub was known when the dog belonging to the house owner Blue Lum, 38, kept barking on Thursday night.
The cub is now at the Lok Kawi zoo. It will be sent to the Sepilok Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
Saturday November 3, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: The non-stop barking of his dog made a 38-year-old businessman step out of his house to take a look.
Blue Lum saw what looked like a puppy in his car porch.
“I left it alone and went in to watch television,” he said.
When the barking continued, Lum's son went out to look and was shocked to discover there was a sun bear cub outside.
Lum said he immediately asked his son to come back into the house and then called the Civil Defence Department.
Kota Kinabalu Civil Defence Department officer Mohd Hazle Shah Hamid said a call was received at about 10pm and officers were immediately despatched to capture the cub.
“It was not violent when our officers carried it and put it in a cage.
“We suspect the sun bear cub was being kept by someone as it was unlikely to have wandered here from the forest,” he said.
Rangers from the Lok Kawi Zoo arrived about an hour later and the cub is now in their care.
The sun bear or honey bear is found in the tropical rainforest of peninsula Malaysia and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
Text and photos by Siew Te Wong
Sun bears live in dense tropical forests across Southeast Asia. In Peninsula Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, the habitat of sun bears is the ever green tropical rainforests. These rainforest are green and lush all year long with multi-layers of canopies that can reach 65 m above the ground. Trees and all sort of plants grow at every corner in the forest. These dense vegetations provide important covers for the wildlife that live in these forests. As a result, wildlife in the tropical rainforest is illusive, rarely seen, and not well known. One of the wildlife found in these forests is the sun bear!
Let me show you how sun bears live in the lowland tropical rainforest of Borneo.
Thanks to Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Depart, LEAP, many funders, supporters, partners, volunteers, BSBCC has started from a big dream to reality.
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