Saturday, December 3

Caged for years, viralled sun bear’s ordeal ends with rescue

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SFC enforcement personnel prepare to transport the rescued sun bear to Matang Wildlife Centre.

KUCHING: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) yesterday rescued a sun bear kept in a housing estate in Demak Laut, after news of the animal’s caging went viral on social media recently.

Its CEO Zolkipli Mohamad Aton in a statement said although the house owner had a valid licence issued by the Controller of Wildlife from the Sarawak Forest Department, he had violated certain terms and conditions of the licence.

He said an enforcement team was dispatched to the house at 2.30pm to rescue the 76kg bear – a protected species – before sending it to the Matang Wildlife Centre for a medical examination.

He added that the sun bear, which had been locked in the cage for years, needed to undergo rehabilitation before a decision is made on whether it is fit to released back into the wild.

Zolkipli said sun bears are protected under the state’s Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, whereby killing, keeping, selling or buying the animal or its derivatives are prohibited.

“Those found guilty can be jailed for one year and fined RM10,000. Licences can be applied but the applicants must comply with the terms and conditions,” he added.

He also reminded those illegally keeping any totally protected or protected animals to surrender the animals to the authorities before action is taken against them, while those with licence to keep protected animals should willingly surrender them to SFC before they become a problem.

SFC, meanwhile, extended its appreciation to members of the public who have assisted the authorities in curtailing the illegal wildlife trade as well as illegal logging in the state.

It said anyone with information on such illegal activities can call its hotline on 016-8565564/019-8859996 (Kuching), 019-8883561 (Sibu), 019-8223449/019-8332737 (Bintulu) and 019-8290994/018-9799778 (Miri).

SFC general manager Oswald Braken Tisen when contacted said there is a provision in the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 for the keeping of wildlife under licence.

“The licence applies only for protected and non-protected animals. No licence will be given for totally protected animals. A custodian permit may be issued to an individual or organisation for totally protected species. All totally protected animals belong to the state of Sarawak,” he stressed.

Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datuk Len Talif Salleh, meanwhile, said the state has adequate legal instruments in the form of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 and National Park and Nature Reserve Ordinance 1998 that govern the administration and management of wildlife in Sarawak.

“Having said that, what we need to do is increase enforcement activities, improve intelligence and widen collaboration with the public at large by way of strengthening our Honorary Wildlife Ranger programme,” he said.