Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Damai was famous with "Mystery of the sun bear at car porch ". Damai was ended up at a car porch of a housing area in Damai, Kota Kinabalu and until now she is likely to remain a mystery. Damai has been sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre ( BSBCC) on last year November 5th. We named this female sun bear cub “Damai”, after the place where she was found. Damai means “peace” in Malay. Now she is 11 months old with her weight is 19.3kg.
While we are unsure of the exact details of Damai past, we know for certain sun bear cubs were illegally kept as pets. As is the case with so many orphaned sun bear at our Center, their mothers were most likely killed by poachers as the rainforests around them were cut and cleared for palm oil or other agriculture. This is really sad our rainforest lost every year. The only habitat on Earth where sun bears, orangutans, clouded leopards and elephants all are roam together!! Please help save sun bears and their rainforest home. Together we make the difference !!
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, February 22, 2013 9:15 EST
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.
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.
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
On the night of Feb 20th, BSBCC received another new rescued sun bear from the Sabah Wildlife Department Wildlife Rescue Unit. This female sun bear yearling (1-2 year old bear), that we named "Koko" is the latest rescued sun bear by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC.
Koko appeared to be healthy and in good body condition. She was calmed on the night she arrived at the centre. We place her at a temporary cage for the time being until her new den is ready in few days. The next day after recovering from the stress associated from the transportation, Koko seems to be a bit feisty when I approached her. However, she got a good appetite and took all the food we gave her.
I called the Koko's owner Robert from Telipok this morning to understand more about the story behind Koko. Apparently Koko was captured by a hunter (poacher) originally from Keningau on a hunting (poaching) trip early last year. Koko's mother probably being killed by the poacher and Koko was kept as pet at the same time looking for a potential buyer. This is a typical story of almost all rescued sun bear in BSBCC. Robert heard from his friend about a sun bear cub for sale. He paid RM350 for Koko and realized that she is no longer a small, cute cub. He later seeks advice from his friend who works with the Sabah Wildlife Department. The wildlife department staff convinced him to surrender Koko to the Sabah Wildlife Department. They sent Koko to SWD's Lok Kawi Zoo last weekend and the zoo sent her to us on Monday night.
With 25 rescued sun bears under the care of BSBCC, the urgency of building another new bear house is escalating. At the moment our capacity is only for 20 sun bears. This is the 2nd sun bear cubs we received in approximately one month time and we do not know how many sun bear will be rescued and be sent to BSBCC in the near future. We can only be glad that we are here to help these animals and never happy to see they end up at BSBCC. We have to stop all illegal activities such as poaching, killing, eating, and keeping sun bears. Please help BSBCC to achieve these goals.
Read more on how you can help us and the sun bears:
Text by Wong Siew Te
The magnificent yet unfortunate Sunda clouded leopard mentioned in earlier blog was not unique. Others, many others in fact, wildlife in this part of the world also faced similar fate. Few years ago a friend of mine from Sarawak sent me similar photos- photos of a decapitated sun bear taken in Sarawak. I have seen many photos of dead animals, witnessed many dead animals with my own eyes and I personally dissected many dead animals. In theory I should be able to take it but at that time I can't. The photos of this decapitated sun bear were so powerful that I nearly cannot take it.
Few years ago I visited an Iban village in central Sarawak. I was lucky to be able to follow a local hunter on his hunting trip. During the few kilometers walk in the forest, the hunter showed me several dozens of snares he set to catch wildlife. Although the target animals were bearded pigs, he proudly told me that everything else that walked in the forest such as pheasants, mouse deer, pangolins, sun bears, were once common wildlife captured by the snares until recently. He emphasized "until recently" because he sensed a sharp decline of local wildlife population in the forest. For example sambar deer was almost locally extinct in the forest. Ironically, the once abundant bearded pigs also became rare now a day. Bearded pigs were by far the most important game animals that contributed the majority of their protein source. Yet, under years of over harvesting and exacerbated by unsustainable logging and habitat degradation, bearded pig populations in many areas have declined significantly. When bearded pigs became rare, the hunting pressure has shifted to other species such as sambar deer, 2 species of barking deer and mouse deer, pangolin, and others, sun bear included. We walk passed a snare where the hunter proudly pointed out that he caught a female sun bear just few days ago. He tried to kill the bear but the bear managed to escape from the snare when fighting for her own life. The female's cub was sent to a tree by the mother (mother bears often sent their cubs to hide in tree to escape from danger) but unfortunately the cub climb a small tree where it cannot really conceal itself. The cub was shot dead by the hunter, eaten, and its little gallbladder was sent to the closest town to sell for a few hundred ringgits. I asked if he can show me the skull of the bear cub. "The dog cleaned it all up" I was told. That day we arrived at a pig wallow that seems inactive for a while. He pointed out all of the snares that he set around the wallow to catch animals that come to drink water or to wallow. I was speechless when he pointed to the 8th.
It is truly sad to see this decapitated sun bear and the decapitated clouded leopard. Although both of the two mammal species are totally protected by wildlife protection law in the country, the lack of interest, capacity, and ability to enforce the wildlife laws by the government authority make these laws like never exist. Paper laws so to speak. During my visit to Sarawak I also witness an interesting scene: few billboards erected to educate the public not to kill and to eat game meat. One of them showed all the protected species in Sarawak. The other one was a warning on consuming wild meat. The wording in three languages read:
Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to "buy or sell or offer for sale or claim ro be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof" if that animal has been taken from the wild. This means that all sale of wild boar, deer meat, pigeons, terrapins, frogs or any other meat taken from the wild is an offence.
The penalty to sell or offer for sale or claim to be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof for this offence is a fine of RM5,000.
It is also an offence to buy any items, and the penalty for doing so is a fine of RM2000.
Offenders may be charged in Court"
Obviously these billboards send a good message to educate the public not to be an offender of wildlife laws or you will be punish, may be, according to the message. However, what make this scene interesting and ironic at the same time was that they were erected in front of a row of shops and small businesses. Among these shops were two restaurants that were well known to the locals for selling wild meat. In the forest one could argue that the lack of enforcement is probably due to the lack of interest to enforce wildlife laws as well as lacking resources - human resource, to enforce the law. But in this case the police station and the forestry department office were all nearby in town, it is nothing but lack of interest to enforce the wildlife laws. Police and enforcement agencies all prefer an "easy life." If they can work "less," they would and love to work less!
Under this attitude, wildlife suffered. Clouded leopard, sun bear, and other wildlife suffered and being decapitated and eaten until they are locally extinct. When they are locally extinct, two phenomena may happen: the price of that particular species raise and poachers has to go further in the remote forest to hunt or other less preferred species are now becoming a target species. Across the world there were many examples showing these two situations.
In the case of decapitated sun bear and clouded leopard, obviously the authority has failed us. They were paid and hired to protect the country's wildlife yet they failed. Mohandas Gandhi once said, "When the people lead, the leader will follow." I think it is time for all of us to lead, to act, and to protect our wildlife. We have to realize that we all have the responsibility to ensure their survival and the power to protect them. We can report to the local authorities, conservation NGOs who act like watch dogs with teeth for the authority, or even the local press on the unlawful activities of killing and harming wildlife. We can act to support and help spread the words for organizations that aim to protect wildlife like BSBCC or other wildlife rescue centre so that they can do their work to rescue wildlife. There a lot we can do to help these animals that share the same planet Earth with us. Like I always said, do what you do best to help sun bears and other wildlife. Together we CAN, we DO, and we WILL make a difference!
Recently I am dealing with several cases of pet sun bear cubs. Among them are Fulung, Bunbun, Mary (we rescued this cub 3 days ago, stay tuned for her story), an unknown sun bear cub in West Malaysia, and this morning a reader from my blog asked me "where can I get one of these bears for myself?". My answer to him was crystal clear: "No! You cannot get a sun bear for yourself!! It is a serious offense if you do. You will be fined, jailed, and caned if you do! Probably burn in hell too!"
No, no one can keep a sun bear as pet! Absolutely no one!
Sun bear is listed as "vulnerable" in the IUCN Red List of Threaten Animals. They are an endangered species. They are protected species by both national and international laws. In all range countries where sun bears are found, there are local and national wildlife protection laws that prohibit any one from killing, capturing, selling, keeping, harassing, etc., of sun bear. In addition, there are international laws like CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) prohibit any illegal trade of sun bears and their parts between countries. In short, YOU CANNOT OWN A SUN BEAR AS PET!
Why can't you t own a sun bear as pet, although they are small, so cute, and super cuddly?
This is why YOU CANNOT OWN A SUN BEAR:
1) Protected by Law: Like I mentioned earlier, they are protected by law no matter where you are! In Malaysia, offenders can be fined up to RM100,000, jailed 5 years or both.
2) Dangerous I: Sun bear is a wild carnivore. They are very strong and equip with large canines and sharp claws that can do a lot of damage. In the wild, they use their strong claws and canines to break termite nests, and bee hives, even the bee hives that are found inside iron wood, one of the hardest wood in the world.
3) Dangerous II: They are wildlife that cannot be tame. The domestication of dogs and cats took thousands of years and generations. If you think you can tame a wild caught sun bear (even if it is a cub), I advise you to think again.
4) Sun bear serve important ecological roles such as seed disperser, ecosystem engineer, forest doctors etc., in the forest ecosystem. By removing a sun bear from the forest to captivity, you eliminate the important roles they will play in the forest.
5) Fuel wildlife market: By buying a sun bear as pet, you fuel (encourage) the wildlife pet trade market. You will encourage more people wanting to keep sun bear as pets. There will be more poachers looking for sun bear cubs in the forest. These poachers often have to kill the mother bears in order to capture her cubs. In addition, there will be more middle man to trade sun bears as it is a lucrative business.
6) Ethically and morally wrong: sun bear is part of the forest ecosystem in SE Asia. They evolve and survive in these forests for the past 5 million years. They have every ethical rights, ecstatic and intrinsic values to be part in the forest ecosystem. Any actions that result the killing, extirpation of the bear from these forests are therefore ethically wrong.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is set up because of many sun bears being kept as pets. (Read more at http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/2008/05/07/bsbcc-%e2%80%93-how-did-it-all-begin/). At first it was fun to have a super cute sun bear in your house. However, as a bear, they have to grow fast and grow strong quickly to face all the challenges to survive. After several months, they grow big, become so strong and aggressive to a point their "owner" (they like to be called as a bear lovers) cannot handle them because they become too dangerous to be a "pet". Al this point, there are often 3 options happen to the bears: a) make some money from the bears by killing the bears and sell their body parts, b) continue to keep them in small cage, and c) surrender to the authority. Regardless of what options, the life and the faith of the bears are mean to be doomed and worst them doomed. They are in hell!
Read the 3 parts blogs that I wrote few years ago:
After BSBCC was established 3 years ago, we have rescued 26 caged sun bears. Few days ago one of our volunteer asked me if I was happy to have Mary our latest rescued sun bear cub. I do not know how to answer her. I was not happy at all to see these bears being rescue. How can I possibly be happy if I know their mother was killed, habitat being destroyed, although she was so sweet and cute sucking my finger. I am glad we rescued her and she end up under our care in BSBCC. I can only be glad, not happy, that Mary is here. If you notice, my smiley face has long gone after I set up BSBCC because every day I see these rescued bears in BSBCC. Most of them definitely look happier and are definitely are happier than before. To me, I can only be glad but not happy because I know the sad and sorrow stories behind each and every one of our bears.
Please, do not keep sun bear as pet, if you are mentally normal and warm blooded!
Please, report any unlawful of keeping, killing, and trading of sun bears and its parts to the local authorities!
Please, help us spread the words and raise conservation awareness for this little forgotten bear!
~ Siew Te Wong