Sun Bear carcass and snare find point to relentless poaching in Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.
On Thursday a WWF-Malaysia researcher in the area stumbled upon the Sun Bear carcass and snares after checking the jungle trail close to the Gerik-Jeli Highway, from which several men on motorcycles had been seen emerging earlier.
The rotting Sun Bear carcass was found with a limb still caught in a snare (see photo), where it would have died a slow and agonising death. Four other snares were also found nearby.
WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia reported the matter to authorities for further investigation and action.
This is the third discovery involving Sun Bears in recent years. Four weeks ago, researchers found another Sun Bear in a snare just 250 meters off the Gerik-Jeli highway and it was freed in a two-hour operation by Perhilitan. In 2011, a camera trap in the area captured the image of a Sun Bear without a forelimb, likely lost to a snare.
The wildlife rich forest complex has long been a magnet for poachers and wildlife traffickers and a challenge for enforcement authorities.
From 2008 to 2010, 142 snares were discovered and de-activated in the BTFC by a WWF-Malaysia wildlife monitoring unit working with authorities. In the same period TRAFFIC recorded the loss of over 400 animals including tigers; one of which was famously rescued after several days in a snare in 2009, but later died from its injuries. WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC have continued to make such finds in the area including one case in August 2011 involving a dozen snares targeted at large mammals.
The most recent discovery is clear proof that the poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the BTFC has not abated and demands a stronger, more consistent and better co-ordinated response from all authorities in the area.
“A snare does not discriminate in its choice of victim. This time it was a sun bear. Next, it could be a tiger. This does not bode well for BTFC which is one of three priority sites for tigers in Malaysia. It is why we strongly advocate for a National Tiger Task Force that will ensure better coordinated enforcement nationwide. If no urgency is shown in this matter, we will soon have empty forests,” said WWF-Malaysia's Executive Director/CEO, Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma.
“Poaching for trade is clearly the most chronic threat to Malaysia’s wildlife. The rising incidences close to the highway should be warning enough that poachers enjoy easy access to the animals,” said Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, Dr Chris R. Shepherd.
“The effectiveness of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Task Force, set-up in 2010 to tackle poaching and trafficking here, has been questionable. More frequent joint enforcement patrols alone could have an impact on the poaching rate, yet this has not been put in place. We urge the Perak Menteri Besar and other state officials to address the problem,” Shepherd said.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN and WWF.
For more information please contact:
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia,
Tel: +6012 207979 Email: email@example.com