Sun Bear Saved!
The location of the incident was not far from the Gerik-Jeli Highway, the road that bisects the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. As soon as we pulled over and got down from the car, we could hear the call of the distressed animal. I went up the trail to verify if it was indeed a sun bear and to assess the animal’s condition. The constant call of the animal enabled me to locate it easily; from a distance of about 10 m, I could see the bear with its left front limb slightly raised as it was pulling against the cable snare in an effort to free itself. Its paw was swollen; it had probably been struggling since the night before.
I immediately contacted the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Gerik district office. After some time, the DWNP personnel arrived; DWNP personnel from the neighbouring Jeli district also came to support the rescue operation. They were equipped with a cutter to cut the cable snare, tranquillisers to sedate the bear as well as a stretcher and cage to transport it. It then started to rain heavily so we waited in our cars, and I thought to myself that the rain was good because the bear was probably thirsty and the rainwater would also cool down the stressed animal. When the rain subsided, the DWNP personnel went to the bear’s rescue. In half an hour, the bear was successfully sedated and put into the cage. As the bear was injured, it was taken to the Sungkai Wildlife Conservation Centre for further treatment, where it recovered from its injuries. In early January, it was released back to the wild in Amanjaya Permanent Reserved Forest.
This is the second case in which WWF-Malaysia was involved in rescuing a snared animal near the Gerik-Jeli highway, after a tiger was rescued back in 2010. This shows that poaching is still a threat in the area, which is aided by easy access to the forest via the highway.
The rescue of this sun bear would not have been possible without the information provided by the local community members, especially Pak Uda and Dalong. We are also grateful to the officers from DWNP Gerik and DWNP Jeli, Encik Fauzi, Encik Ismail, Encik Cosmas and others for their rapid response which made the rescue operation a successful one.
Lau Ching Fong, Field Biologist
WWF-Malaysia, Tiger Conservation Programme