March 31, 2017

A Sun bear is saved from a Poacher’s Snare in a protected Forest in Sabah

A Sun bear is saved from a Poacher’s Snare in a protected Forest in Sabah

Sun bears are wonderful creatures but they are at grave risks in Malaysia's forests. Photo Credit: Flickr

The sun bear was found, following a tip-off, in a poacher’s snare within the Maliau Basin Forest Conservation Area. Thanks to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s rescue unit, the injured bear was saved from what would have been certain death at the hands of unscrupulous people.

According to the unit’s acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez, the sun bear was suffering from an infected injury on its back, which was likely caused by a crude hunting spear. The animal also had a deep gash on its right front paw, caused by a jerry-rigged snare trap with a nylon rope. The bear was taken to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, near Kota Kinabalu, where it is recovering from its injuries.

Even simple jerry-rigged snares like this can cause grave harm to wild animals. Photo Credit: Trans Papua Blog

And there you have it: despite the prospect of severe penalties, poachers continue to try and ensnare endangered animals like sun bears and they do so even in fully protected conservation areas like Sabah’s famed Maliau Basin. “Poaching poses a threat not only to sun bears but other endangered wildlife,” observed Wong Siew Ti, director of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. “We have to improve our security in such areas because such snares will eventually wipe out the many protected species in our forests.”

Malaysia’s eponymous sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) remain at grave risks from poachers as the animals are highly sought for their bile in traditional medicine and for their paws that are often used in an exotic dish. They tend to be elusive creatures that spend much of their time in the canopy of trees within tropical forests. Yet they have no defense against the crude poachers’ snares that litter many of these forests and continue to take a great toll on endangered species.

“Animals suffer horribly as snares can be left unchecked for several days on end,” said Dr Melvin Gumal, director of Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia. “Sometimes we come across animals that fight to get out of snares and there are marks ripped across the tree bark. And there are times when animals die and their carcasses are found left on the snares.”

What to do? We must penalize people heavily for setting such snares and even so much as possessing one within or near protected forests. Failure to do so may have catastrophic consequences for Malaysia’s wildlife, or what’s left of it. Absent much stricter anti-snare enforcement measures, argues the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), “the specter of ’empty forests’ will become even more likely.”

That must not be allowed to happen.


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