Sunday October 19, 2008
Sanctuary for sun bears in Sabah soon
By RUBEN SARIO
KOTA KINABALU: There is hope for a bright future for sun bears in Sabah that are facing extinction. A sanctuary is being set up in Sandakan for the bears.
The state Wildlife Department together with the state Forestry Department and non-governmental organisation Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap) will jointly set up the conservation centre next to the orang utan rehabilitation centre.
Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said the sun bear facility would be the first of its kind in Asia and was aimed at rehabilitation, research and education efforts concerning the animal.
Protective custody: Researcher Wong Siew Te looking at a sun bear at Sepilok, near Sandakan.
There are already 11 sun bears which the department had seized from various individuals now being kept at Sepilok, he said.
Ambu said that although there were no figures to ascertain the number of sun bears now, wildlife experts were convinced that the mammals would be classified as “endangered” very soon.
“What we do know is that there is a small population of sun bears scattered around the state but their forest habitat is shrinking and they are threatened by poaching,” he told The Star.
Ambu added that the sun bear population worldwide was estimated at about 10,000. A fraction of them are in Sabah.
Leap executive director Cynthia Ong said the organisation and the two departments hoped to get construction of the RM1.2mil sun bear centre going by early next year.
“We are having a fund-raising on Nov 14 at the ShangriLa Tanjung Aru Resort here,” she said.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman will be among the guests at the event.
For further details about the sun bear conservation centre, call 088-270 705 or e-mail to email@example.com.