Tuesday April 8, 2008
Caged sunbear dies
By STEPHEN THEN
The sunbear, a protected species, died after its owner had hidden it inside an isolated forest away from public view following complaints from a group of expatriates who were disgusted with the manner the creature was treated.
A worker of the farm, located at Jalan Bakam, next to the National Service Training Camp, confirmed Tuesday that the sunbear recently died.
"The sunbear was taken to an isolated area and was continuously kept inside the cage. It was placed near a forested section of the farm. It died recently inside the cage," said a worker who spoke on condition that his identity was not disclosed.
Miri Wildlife Department enforcement chief Abang Arabi Abang Imran, when asked to comment Tuesday, also confirmed that he had sent his enforcement officers to the site and found that the sunbear was missing and that the owners could not give any satisfactory explanation on what had happened to the animal.
"We will find out what happened to the sunbear. We have been investigating this case for a long time following complaints lodged by foreigners who had visited the farm," he said.
The Star on August 11 last year, highlighted this case after being approached by South African expatriate Tweet Gainsborough whose husband was working for an oil and gas giant here in Miri.
Arabi, when asked Tuesday why it took six months for his department to investigate this case, said, "I had instructed my enforcement people to handle the case immediately after I received the complaints. I must open the case file and find out what had transpired and why the bear was not rescued," he said.
Arabi confirmed that the sunbear is a protected species, and that the private farm did not have any permit to keep the animal.
Saturday August 11, 2007
By STEPHEN THEN
The sun bear, an endangered and protected species, is being kept in deplorable conditions at the farm.
The animal is kept in a cage measuring only about 1.5m square. The holes of the cage are just big enough for the bear to put its mouth through.
However, the holes keep trapping the bear’s feet whenever it tries to move about. The cage is so small that the bear is only able only walk a few steps before it has to turn.
South African expatriate Tweet Gainsbo-rough, whose husband works in the oil industry here, said she and fellow expatriates were shocked to see the cruelty inflicted on this rare animal during her visit to the place recently.
She wondered how the authorities could allow such a protected animal to be kept in such a miserable condition.
“We visited the farm recently with the hope of enjoying some of the local countryside but, to our horror, we found animals being kept in horrible conditions.
“This sun bear was locked up in such a small enclosure and displayed just outside the canteen for everybody to see.
“There is not enough room for it to even move about in comfort. When we saw the bear, it was desperately trying to get out. It was biting on the iron bars of the cage.
“I took a photo of it as evidence (as shown in picture) and asked the people managing the farm why they kept the bear in such a state. They merely kept silent.
“I asked how long the bear had been kept like that and they also kept quiet.
She has since written appeals to the Wildlife Department, Miri City Council and the farm, appealing to the keepers to be more merciful to the sun bear.
A check by The Star found that the farm had “special permission” from the local authorities here to keep the bear in order to attract visitors.
The owners were not available for comment.
Miri Wildlife enforcement officer Abang Arabi Abang Imran said they had received Gainsborough’s written complaints.