Plight of the wild sun bears

On October 3, 2007, at 2:32 pm, three collage students from Germany who visited DanumValleyFieldCenter, Gunnar Boldhaus, Antje Schlaf, and Marcel Hoyer, saw a wild adult sun bear while they were walking on the newly constructed Kuala Tembaling hanging bridge. The new bridge is the second access that link to the from the east side of SegamaRiver to the Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA). The bear was sitting on a open sandy ground west beside of the SegamaRiver in the conservation area, and concentrated licking on its arm, without noticing the presence of the students. The students watched the bears quietly and took photos and videos of the bear from the middle of the bridge. About 5 minutes later, the bear seems to pick up some sense from the air, sniffing and then limping away slowly. When the bear change its posture, the students can clearly see the bear’s left arm has a rounded open wound and a rope imbedded, and about a foot long rope was dangling at the other end. The left shoulder of the bear seem awkward, a bit out of place. The bear left the place.

After examined the photos and video clips they took, it seem clearly that the bear has a fresh wound from a snare set by poacher. The material of the snare seem to made from nylon rope and snapped off when the bear was pulling hard trying to escape. The struggling to escape seem intense as the rope cut through the bear’s skin, wounded the arm, and dislocate the socket on the left arm and thus the limping and awkward shoulder. The bear has a black sleek coat but emaciated with protruding ribs, hip, and leg bones. I strongly believe that the bear will slowly died from unable to feed properly with the injured arm.

I would like to have your attention on several issues regarding this observation:

  • Danum Valley Conservation Area is a class one protected area in Sabah and has limited access to encroachers and poachers. This may not be the case anymore. It is obvious that poaching activities has happen inside the conservation area and authority should be alarm of such unfortunate events.

  • Seeing a sun bear in the wild is an extremely rare event, much more rarer than seeing an orangutan, Bornean pygmy elephant, Bornean gibbon, etc. Seeing and photographing a wild sun bear wounded by a poacher’s snare is thus a even more extreme rare event. It indicates that the poaching activities is at alarming rate and authority should take serious action to prevent poaching activities in the conservation area.

  • In general, poachers who set snares will set dozens if not hundreds of snares in their hunting trails to maximize harvest success. These hunting trails are death trails for most wildlife in the forest. The snare will snare and catch anything and everything that come into its way indiscriminately. Wildlife such as pheasants, civets, pangolins, mouse deer, sun bears, deers, pigs, elephants, and rhinos could be the victims. This observation provide unarguable evident that this sun bear was a victim of poachers. I believe that there are many victims that were undocumented.

  • The buffer zone of the DVCA is getting smaller and narrower at the southeastern and southwestern section as forest clearing for plantation project is ongoing. It will facilitate encroachment of poachers to conduct various illegal activities in the protected conservation area. The rate of encroachment will accelerate if no action has been taken to deter encroachers. It is not clear who were the poachers and where did they enter the conservation area and set snares to poach wildlife. Regular patrolling by qualified law enforcement personals and authorities are needed to safeguard the flora and fauna of the conservation area.

Please help us protect our wildlife and safeguard the Danum Valley Conservation Area.


P. Baker said...

I can't believe that endangered animals are being snared in what should be one of Malaysia's most protected areas. If these animals cannot be protected here then what hope for them outside of protected areas. I only hope that something is now being done to prevent this from happening again!

Siew Te Wong said...

Malaysia do has a strict wildlife law, unfortunately the law enforcement still weak. There are many rooms that need to reinforce and improve so that our wildlife is fully protected. We need more people concern our wildlife because more voice, louder voice, and stronger voice will eventually make a different. We are still weak and much to learn and improve at this stage. Wish us LUCK!

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