Category Archives: poaching

Farmer mistakes kin for sun bear and shoots him

Original posted at

A FARMER mistook his cousin for a bear and shot and killed him in Sabah, Harian Metro reported.

The 42-year-old farmer said he went on a hunting trip with Nuis Upil, 36, and two other friends at about 2pm in Ulu Sungai Mususur, Tambunan, on Wednesday.

The farmer aimed his bakakuk (home-made gun) at a rambutan tree and fired, causing Nuis to fall from the tree that he had been climbing.

The hunting party then started searching for the “animal” and was shocked to see Nuis lying in a pool of blood.

Keningau OCPD Deputy Supt Zahari Mohamed confirmed that the farmer and his friends were in custody to assist in investigations.

> The daily also reported that exotic animal parts are a big hit, especially among senior citizens wanting to boost their sexual energy.

Otters and crocodiles are among the most sought after, it said.

It is illegal to trade animal organs and sellers can be charged under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. However, this had not stopped traders from selling their products in villages as well as public places.

According to an Indonesian trader, his products were very popular among male senior citizens.

“Money is not an issue for my customers because most of them are desperate to improve their sexual performance, especially men who have younger wives,” he said.

Kelantan Perhilitan director Rahmat Topani said those who continued to sell animal parts of protected species would have to face the consequences.


Wong’s notes:

This sad accident indicated a few things:

1) Conservation education is HIGHLY needed to educate local communities about the protection status of many wildlife. Most local folks and communities do not aware of the legal status of a bear. Sun bears are totally protected species. No one is allow to kill, harass, keep, eat, or harm sun bear by any mean.

2) Sun bear still highly sought by the poachers. Their hunting/poaching pressures are still high despite national laws and state law prohibit anyone to do so.

3) Conservation and protection of sun bears need every one to take part – local communities, general public, stakeholders, land owners, biologists, government officials, law enforcements.

My condolence to the victim family.

Felda settlets find dead sun bear






Losing your head again in Sarawak

Text by Wong Siew Te

The magnificent yet unfortunate Sunda clouded leopard mentioned in earlier blog was not unique. Others, many others in fact, wildlife in this part of the world also faced similar fate. Few years ago a friend of mine from Sarawak sent me similar photos- photos of a decapitated sun bear taken in Sarawak. I have seen many photos of dead animals, witnessed many dead animals with my own eyes and I personally dissected many dead animals. In theory I should be able to take it but at that time I can’t. The photos of this decapitated sun bear were so powerful that I nearly cannot take it.



Few years ago I visited an Iban village in central Sarawak. I was lucky to be able to follow a local hunter on his hunting trip. During the few kilometers walk in the forest, the hunter showed me several dozens of snares he set to catch wildlife. Although the target animals were bearded pigs, he proudly told me that everything else that walked in the forest such as pheasants, mouse deer, pangolins, sun bears, were once common wildlife captured by the snares until recently. He emphasized “until recently” because he sensed a sharp decline of local wildlife population in the forest. For example sambar deer was almost locally extinct in the forest. Ironically, the once abundant bearded pigs also became rare now a day. Bearded pigs were by far the most important game animals that contributed the majority of their protein source. Yet, under years of over harvesting and exacerbated by unsustainable logging and habitat degradation, bearded pig populations in many areas have declined significantly. When bearded pigs became rare, the hunting pressure has shifted to other species such as sambar deer, 2 species of barking deer and mouse deer, pangolin, and others, sun bear included. We walk passed a snare where the hunter proudly pointed out that he caught a female sun bear just few days ago. He tried to kill the bear but the bear managed to escape from the snare when fighting for her own life. The female’s cub was sent to a tree by the mother (mother bears often sent their cubs to hide in tree to escape from danger) but unfortunately the cub climb a small tree where it cannot really conceal itself. The cub was shot dead by the hunter, eaten, and its little gallbladder was sent to the closest town to sell for a few hundred ringgits. I asked if he can show me the skull of the bear cub. “The dog cleaned it all up” I was told. That day we arrived at a pig wallow that seems inactive for a while. He pointed out all of the snares that he set around the wallow to catch animals that come to drink water or to wallow. I was speechless when he pointed to the 8th.        

Snare set on animal trail to catch willdife in the forest.

Snare set on animal trail to catch willdife in the forest.

It is truly sad to see this decapitated sun bear and the decapitated clouded leopard. Although both of the two mammal species are totally protected by wildlife protection law in the country, the lack of interest, capacity, and ability to enforce the wildlife laws by the government authority make these laws like never exist. Paper laws so to speak. During my visit to Sarawak I also witness an interesting scene: few billboards erected to educate the public not to kill and to eat game meat. One of them showed all the protected species in Sarawak. The other one was a warning on consuming wild meat. The wording in three languages read:


Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to “buy or sell or offer for sale or claim ro be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof” if that animal has been taken from the wild. This means that all sale of wild boar, deer meat, pigeons, terrapins, frogs or any other meat taken from the wild is an offence.   

The penalty to sell or offer for sale or claim to be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof for this offence is a fine of RM5,000.

It is also an offence to buy any items, and the penalty for doing so is a fine of RM2000.

Offenders may be charged in Court”

Signboard of protected wildlife in Sarawak

Signboard of protected wildlife in Sarawak



Obviously these billboards send a good message to educate the public not to be an offender of wildlife laws or you will be punish, may be, according to the message. However, what make this scene interesting and ironic at the same time was that they were erected in front of a row of shops and small businesses. Among these shops were two restaurants that were well known to the locals for selling wild meat. In the forest one could argue that the lack of enforcement is probably due to the lack of interest to enforce wildlife laws as well as lacking resources – human resource, to enforce the law. But in this case the police station and the forestry department office were all nearby in town, it is nothing but lack of interest to enforce the wildlife laws. Police and enforcement agencies all prefer an “easy life.” If they can work “less,” they would and love to work less!

Under this attitude, wildlife suffered. Clouded leopard, sun bear, and other wildlife suffered and being decapitated and eaten until they are locally extinct. When they are locally extinct, two phenomena may happen: the price of that particular species raise and poachers has to go further in the remote forest to hunt or other less preferred species are now becoming a target species. Across the world there were many examples showing these two situations.

In the case of decapitated sun bear and clouded leopard, obviously the authority has failed us. They were paid and hired to protect the country’s wildlife yet they failed. Mohandas Gandhi once said, “When the people lead, the leader will follow.” I think it is time for all of us to lead, to act, and to protect our wildlife. We have to realize that we all have the responsibility to ensure their survival and the power to protect them. We can report to the local authorities, conservation NGOs who act like watch dogs with teeth for the authority, or even the local press on the unlawful activities of killing and harming wildlife. We can act to support and help spread the words for organizations that aim to protect wildlife like BSBCC or other wildlife rescue centre so that they can do their work to rescue wildlife. There a lot we can do to help these animals that share the same planet Earth with us. Like I always said, do what you do best to help sun bears and other wildlife. Together we CAN, we DO, and we WILL make a difference!

Losing your head in Sarawak

Repost from

Text by Anthony Sebastian

Losing your head in Sarawak

5 January, 2012

Filed under: Everything else — admin @ 2:07 pm

In December 2011, this clouded leopard lost its head. Keeping one’s head in Borneo is not as easy as one would imagine. And I mean this figuratively as well as actually! You could lose your head whilst simply going about your everyday business of strolling to the rainforest you call your home, or sitting quietly in a tree waiting for some prey to pass by. Whichever, losing one’s head is permanent.

As a Sarawakian who deeply loves and treasures the wonderful wildlife my State possesses, it is increasingly easy to lose one’s head too. When this picture arrived in my inbox, sent by an anonymous friend from kapit, I lost my head. I felt a deep welling of anger rise within my body, from the depths of my stomach rising to my throat, and upwards to my head. It made my head swell, and tears came.

Decapitated Head of a Clouded Leopard

Decapitated Head of a Clouded Leopard

Yes, I cried. But interestingly, I found myself crying not for the unfortunate leopard that met its fate in this gruesome manner. No, my tears were for myself, for my fellow Sarawakians, for my state I love so much. I was crying for the loss. The un-necessary loss we all suffer. The leopard has passed on. Its flesh was eaten, and provided (hopefully) a nice meal for someone. It time had come, and it has passed like so many others before it, and so many others yet to die in our forests.

Hunting is the bane of Sarawak. It is a curse we have upon ourselves. It is our shame. I know each and everyone of you reading this right now knows of someone who hunts. This person thinks himself some kind of hero, some kind of brave macho type who can take a gun, go into the forest (or wherever) and shoot a wild animal. Its cool….

Well, my friends, it is not. Human beings have progressed. Today’s big-game hunters are those who bring those inspiringly vivid jaw-dropping images we watch with awe on television. These days, we can watch them in high definition. Wild animals in all their glory, titans of the oceans brought right in front of our eyes like never before. These hunters use cameras of every form, harnessing every bit of technology and skill to stalk these wild animals, and capture them for us to see. These are the hunters we respect. They do not kill.

Body of a Bornean Clouded Leopard

Body of a Bornean Clouded Leopard

Let us explore some of the myths about hunting in Sarawak.

Hunting is in our culture. It is our way, our Sarawakian way. – Rubbish! For 10,000 years, the natives of Sarawak lived in the rainforest. They were adept hunters, able to live off the forest. They had skills that allowed them to do this, and this is their tradition. This is their pride and glory. They hunted to live. And they had rules. They had adat. There was always, always, this underlying rule of law between the forest and the people. Hunting today respects none of these adat. Hunting today is solely for sport and profit. It is no longer cultural by any definition.

There are plenty of animals in our forests, hunting a few has little effect. Wrong! Our forests are shrinking faster than you can read this. And the wildlife that used to be there has all but gone. All our big game have been hunted out. Yes, we used to have rhinoceros and wild cattle… used to… even our hornbills have lived out their long years and are dying out, and no young hornbills are being added. We are indeed the former land of the hornbill. The Rusa (or Payau) is the largest mammal still living inSarawak. Ask any tour operator, and they will tell you: “If you want to see wildlife, go toSabah.Sarawak’s forests are empty”.

Our National Parks are protecting our wildlife, so we are okay. Wrong again! Today, if you are a hunter of any repute, you will be hunting inside Sarawak’s national parks. Why? Because there is nothing to shoot outside these last refuges. Sneaking in is simple, because boundaries are vast, and patrols are non-existent. If you’re not aware, Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary west of Sematan, was set up to protect wildlife strictly. No tourism, no visitors of any sort. Only for wildlife… today, illegal loggers have had their way throughout the sanctuary, logging every single part of it. Hunters have free range within the sanctuary, shooting bears, leopards and proboscis monkeys to extinction. And that is a wildlife sanctuary in Sarawak.

Indigenous people depend on wildlife for food. Depends. You first need to define where an indigenous person lives, and what he does for a living.Sarawak’s indigenous peoples are mostly part of the economy these days. Only a small minority depend on the forests for their protein. These people rightly co-exist with the forests, and hunt for a living. However, how many of the hunters inSarawak fit this bill?

Eating wildlife is something special, it is good for us. Rubbish again! Contrary to the boastful claims of those who regularly consume wild animals, wild meat does not taste as good as the beef, chicken, duck or lamb we buy from the markets. Neither does wild meat have any special medicinal properties. It is all in the mind. People like to eat something special, something different. In the past, when we had a special guest, we would go out and hunt some animal to honour our guest. The honour was in the effort to serve him meat, not in the providing wild meat.

Restaurants serving wild meat – if I don’t eat it, someone else will. How about this: if we all don’t eat it, they will stop serving it. Once they stop serving it, they will stop buying it. Once restaurants stop buying wild meat, hunters will stop hunting far more than they need to eat themselves. And, once they stop hunting for commercial gains, our wildlife will begin to recover. Once our forests are full of wild animals, people will stop going toSabah.

Lastly, this animal that lost its head in Kapit is a Bornean Clouded Leopard. It is found only on Borneo, and is the largest cat inSarawak. It is a very rare animal, and in great danger of being hunted out. It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful of the world’s large cats, and lives most of its life up in the trees.

If this article makes just one of us Sarawakians decide that you will stop eating wild meat, this leopard would not have lost its head in vain.



  1. This is outrageous. How can this still be occurring in the 21st-century? Thank you for bringing this image into the public arena and hopefully the ignorant morons responsible for this atrocity will be suitably dealt with.

    Comment by John Le Fevre — 05/01/2012 @ 2:50 pm

  2. they should put a more heavier sentence on illegal poachers… they have no respect to mother nature.. STOP THE KILLING! might as well take their heads off, lets see how they feel!

    Comment by Primus Kiob — 05/01/2012 @ 4:03 pm

  3. This is a shame. Another great loss to wildlife. I am wondering where are the visible signs of gun shots wound on the clouded leopard. I believed from the picture, the hunter was not interested in the precious tooth for decorative items. As the animal was decapitate, only goes to show, the animal does not have value to the hunter, only meant for meat. The leopard claws are intact. Being rare, the claws can fetch good prices by collectors. Nonetheless, in this age of technology, these rare species are killed without mercy. If the animal was caught alive and sold to syndicates, the hunter would be richly rewarded. This gives time and millage for enforcement agencies to zero-in on the hunter, apprehend the sellers while the animal rescued to be released back into the wild where it belongs with secure GPS device. There must be continued public education on why this rare animal should be protected and not killed merely to satisfy the stomach.

    Comment by Frankie Lian — 05/01/2012 @ 6:33 pm

  4. A tragic end for a magnificent animal!

    Comment by Nazeri Abghani — 05/01/2012 @ 7:01 pm

  5. I feel extreme sadness… And I have only one question..WHY?? This is a beautiful creature that should be safe in its habitat. Thank you for the images and expose this cruelty to the world.

    Comment by Amy Strange — 05/01/2012 @ 7:10 pm

  6. I’m absolutely sadden n disgusted by this act!When will we humans ever learn before it is too late to save anything?Only when we cleared all the forest of animals will we be happy?Imgine a forest without animals sound from the smallest to the largest..What kind of world is that?We MUST STOP/ACT now..We MUST.. time is not on our side no more..if we choose to delay…it will be too late.Our Earth,Our Nature,Our Animals..think abt this.

    Comment by azlimi ‘snowflake’ yaakop — 05/01/2012 @ 8:47 pm

  7. weird that people like to watch Discovery to see wild life but maybe this same person that watch discovery still kill and hunt these animals. Soon next genration will only know wildlife through tv and zoo’s

    Comment by Cynthia Lobato — 05/01/2012 @ 9:53 pm

  8. Why Why Why Why ????? What is the matter with some of the human race. What is in their hearts that brings them to do this. What happen to them to be so heartless, cruel and sick ?????
    Hunting for sport is for the insecure human that needs to fill some hole in themselves !!!! Seek therapy you sickos !!!!

    Comment by Joy Weidner — 05/01/2012 @ 11:52 pm

  9. OMG…the photo was taken in Kapit?Isn’t in the market or somewhere at the longhouse?

    Comment by ylilofthevalley — 06/01/2012 @ 2:45 am

  10. This is such a horrible incident that I have no words to describe my feelings. Just give me a Machete & the killer of this Clouded Leopard & I will give them the best show of Devil’s Carving skills.

    Comment by Vijay — 06/01/2012 @ 6:20 am

  11. How about granting park rangers the rights to shoot at any hunter found hunting wildlife to death + rewarded and promoted handsomely?

    Comment by kc boo — 06/01/2012 @ 9:20 am

  12. Shocking!!! This breed of humans who carry out this type of hunting will stop at nothing. The issue of banning guns and weapons should be re-considered while regulating the use of certain traditional ones. If someone can translate this article into several languages used in Sarawak, and publicize in the media and longhouses, this leopard will also not have ‘given away’ its head vain.

    Comment by Joe k Charles — 06/01/2012 @ 9:56 am

  13. This is just beyond words but still typical human cruelty and ignorance! these will continue unless we as a human species extinct !! then all other species will find rest.

    Comment by Amal — 06/01/2012 @ 12:54 pm

  14. I so hope fellow Sarawakians heed your heartfelt, and very important words.

    Comment by Kashmira Kakati — 06/01/2012 @ 4:08 pm

  15. Hi,
    these terrible things are happening all over the world and especially in so called “protected” areas and even more though with animals, which are to be “protected”, as they are only “protected” in Washingtton, Kyotos, Bruxellas, etc. but NOT in their native habitat. This is really unbelievable but true.
    The problem we have worldwide is, that no one wants to hear about the truth, but everyone wants to “protect” from their office, living room and in high society meetings and gatherings. Just to show off … And especially those organizations with want to “save” the planet.
    This human cruelity is based and done by:
    1. Mostly none-natives, as those who lived for thousands of years with nature do NOT destroy their basis of live. Nor do they destroy their forests nor their animals. And if they hunted animals, they ALWAYS hunted selective and only what they needed.
    2.It is mainly done by poshers because there is always a very high price on “protected” species heads … (If they were not “protected” there would be a much lower head-price … and would not be of much interest).
    3. As these (or most of) the “protected” animals cannot be llegally captures anymore, and one cannot have them alive in their home, they are killed to be eaten (as most of such “protected” species live in areas of very poor people/natives.
    4. We (humans) are by far to many on this planet and therfore is less and less space available for animals to protect/hide/disappear/save themselfs. Less and less they can avoid humns…
    What to do? These are facts no one wants to see – nowhere ….
    Heiko Bleher
    Exploreruthoer, Writer, Researcher, Filmmaker, Photographer, Lecturer world-wide, Publisher and much more and and Wikopedia

    Comment by Heiko Bleher — 06/01/2012 @ 11:23 pm

  16. It is very sad to see a clouded leopard killed by poachers.It should be investigated by the authorities and arrest the poachers.I spent two weeks in Bakun with the rescue teams and more than 2000 animals were saved.It was very well done in view of the rapid rising waters of the dam.There were interesting animals like the banded civet,tasier,large mouse deer,porcupines kijang and binturong.What we need is a great leader to head the wildlife field.The fate of wildlife is very dependent on good leadership.

    Comment by Mohd Momin Khan — 07/01/2012 @ 8:24 am


Rare cub rescued from soldier

Friday, 07 October 2011 12:03
Vincent MacIsaac

After a “tense” meeting with a military commander on Wednesday, an endangered sun bear cub was rescued from a military base in Preah Vihear province before it could be sold for an estimated US$1,000.

The 10-kilogram cub was found at a base near Preah Vihear temple in Choam Khsan district, in the possession of a soldier who was trying to sell it, likely to a bear farm in Vietnam.

A sun bear cub rescued from a military base in Preah Vihear province on Wednesday was likely destined for a bear farm in Vietnam, according to Wildlife Alliance

A sun bear cub rescued from a military base in Preah Vihear province on Wednesday was likely destined for a bear farm in Vietnam, according to Wildlife Alliance

Wildlife Alliance worked with Forestry Administration officials to gain access to the military base after receiving information that a captive bear cub was for sale.

Forestry officials and members of the team “first went to speak to the regional military commander, who then aided the team in raising awareness about the law [among soldiers”, said program manager at Wildlife Alliance Lesley Perlman yesterday.

Wildlife Alliance described the meeting with the unnamed military commander as “tense”, but said that following the meeting the commander helped raise awareness of laws governing endangered species among solidiers.

“As the soldier voluntarily handed over the bear, no charges were filed,” Perlman said.

The bear is being transferred to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre and Perlman said greater effort was needed in Cambodia and regionally to protect endangered species.

“In Cambodia, stronger law enforcement is needed to combat the illegal trade in wildlife on the ground,” she said. Regionally, “both demand and supply side efforts are needed”, she said.

Sun bears are sold as pets or used in Chinese traditional medicine, which highly values their paws and gall bladder bile.

A rapid response team working in Cambodia confiscates about 10 live Malayan sun and Asiatic Black bears a year, Perlman said

Mary the moon cake sun bear



Very cute sun bear baby photos.




September 12, 2011 was the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Cake festival in Chinese Lunar Calendar. I was informed by the Sabah Wildlife Department in the morning that the Wildlife Rescue Unit will sent a baby sun bear to us at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The rescue unit met us at the junction of Mile 32 of Sandakan Road to deliver the cub. Our team consisted of Wai Pak, Alex, Roshan and me. We left my house at 9 pm, when the neighbors were enjoying their BBQ Moon Cake Festival dinner under the full moon light on their porch.

The first meeting with Mary- in her transportation cage

The first meeting with Mary- in her transportation cage

The female sun bear cub, Mary, was surrendered by her owner from a small village near Ranau two days earlier. According to Mary’s owner, Teresa, her husband and some friends went hunting on the night of June 17, 2011 in an oil palm plantation and “found” Mary at the forest edge. They capture her and brought her back home. The hunting party claimed they did not see the mother bear (do you believe it?). Mary was about 2-3 kg at that time. Teresa fed her with some milk (cow milk powder) the first day but stop giving her the milk because of her diarrhea problem. She was given a variety of fruits, rice, bread, honey, and some meat, but no milk in her diet.

I gave her some milk on the first night. This was her first milk in three months.

I gave her some milk on the first night. This was her first milk in three months.

Three months later Mary was sent to BSBCC. The first time I saw on Mary I immediately noticed her abnormal looking: she has a relatively mature look relative to her small size. Typically, young sun bear cubs have short and round muzzle. However, Mary has a relatively long and pointy muzzle. Her body was relatively short and small. The next day I weighed her: 8.25 kg. I also noticed that she walks and moves very slowly. Cub her age (estimated 6 months old) should be very agile, playful, and active. Mary is not. Mary also likes to suck her right hind foot like all bear cubs that I have come across. She also likes to seek human fingers and suck them one by one.  In addition, Mary’s coat is brown, instead of sleek black, also a sign of abnormality.

Wai Pak used honey to lead Mary standing on the scale. She tipped the scale at 8.25 kg.

Wai Pak used honey to lead Mary standing on the scale. She tipped the scale at 8.25 kg.

Mary has a habit of sucking her hind right foot to seek comfort. Self sucking is a common behavior display by orphan sun bear cubs for obvious reason - they do not have their mother to suckle or to nurse on mother's milk.

Mary has a habit of sucking her hind right foot to seek comfort. Self sucking is a common behavior display by orphan sun bear cubs for obvious reason - they do not have their mother to suckle or to nurse on mother's milk.

We suspect Mary’s abnormal conditions (small body, slow movements, brown coat) are resulted from malnutrition and imbalance diet. She was also being confined in small cage that may restrict her growth.   What Mary needs at her age was her mother’s milk that rich in protein, fat, and other trace elements such as calcium, other minerals and vitamins, plus unlimited rooms for her body to grow. Without proper diet and sufficient space, Mary’s growth was restricted and her development was disrupted.

Mary's relatively small body and slow movement may resulted from insufficient nutrients such as calcium in her diet and small space to grow in captivity.

Mary's relatively small body and slow movement may resulted from insufficient nutrients such as calcium in her diet and small space to grow in captivity.


I let Mary to suckle my finger to seek comfort. Suckling is an important part of bear cub development and growing process.

Mary was given dog replacement milk formula and a variety of fruits and dog chow. She is house in a spacious cage. We hope she can catch up with growth under our care. In three weeks time we will integrate her with Fulung, another sun bear cub who is few months older then Mary. We hope both of these cubs can grow normally, healthily, and happily under the care of BSBCC.

Wai Pak give Mary a special treats to gain her trust- honey!

Wai Pak give Mary a special treats to gain her trust- honey!

Mary enjoying her new den with many enrichment and toys!

Mary enjoying her new den with many enrichment and toys!


Keeping sun bears as pets is a serious crime.

Please report to the authority if you see any illegal sun bears being kept as pets.

From 8am to 5pm …

Posted on 19 September 2011 – 05:00am Azrina Abdullah

WHAT a busy few months it has been for Malaysia as it has yet again been pushed into the international wildlife spotlight. Aside from 1,764 elephant tusks seized by customs since July in Johor, Penang and Selangor (bad), there was also the rescue of animals this month from deplorable conditions in two Johor zoos after years of pressure from NGOs (good).

In addition, there was a troubling find of 12 snares in August near the East-West Highway, and other evidence to suggest that the Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve is increasingly becoming a poacher’s haven, including those from Thailand and Cambodia (bad).

Much has been said about the lack of enforcement where wildlife is concerned because it is not a priority and in most cases, budget is sorely lacking to ensure enforcement officers have adequate resources to do their job well.

And after each criticism, the agencies always respond to say they have beefed up border controls and increased patrols across the peninsula. Then I read the response of Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) state director for Perak on the comment by two NGOs that her enforcement personnel had slackened in their patrols of the Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve.

She stated that this comment was not true because her officers patrol the East-West Highway points from 8am to 5pm every day. Yes, you read that right – 8am to 5pm. Is there something wrong with this statement? Does the director think poachers only hunt during office hours? If I was a poacher, this is a too good to be true statement – enter the forest after 5pm because no officers will catch me.

I am praying that this is a misquote by the reporter as it sends a despairing message to those working to save the Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve that Perhilitan is not serious about protecting our precious wildlife.

It does make you wonder how this matches with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s statements over the years that it has “increased patrols, beefed up security and enforcement staff”. If 8am-5pm patrols are what the ministry meant by “increased patrols”, it is no surprise that poaching in Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve is worsening.

The director also defended her department by saying the forest reserve is under the jurisdiction of the state, and not the department. Therefore, there are restrictions to what her officers can do. More excuses.

Perhilitan has mentioned repeatedly that the public plays an important role in providing enforcement agencies information on illegal wildlife activities.

What good would it do if we keep providing information but no action is taken because state and federal agencies cannot work together?

Granted that there are matters which the state and federal agencies cannot see eye-to-eye but will the issue of jurisdiction be the end of the Belum-Temengor Forest and its inhabitants as armed foreign poachers continue to pillage our biodiversity?

Their intrusion also poses a threat to our national security?

Azrina Abdullah is conducting research on the links between indigenous groups and the wildlife trade. Comments: [email protected]

Owls poached for exotic meat market

Tuesday September 13, 2011

[email protected]

A black hole of information surrounds the illegal trade in owls.

ARE our owls being poached for the dinner table? It would appear so, judging from huge seizures of dead birds in recent years by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).

In November 2008, a raid in Muar, Johor, unveiled a mountain of 917 plucked owls, along with a stash of pythons, mouse deer, pangolins and various other protected species.

Two months later, in January 2009, 319 more owl carcasses were uncovered alongside 2,330 live clouded monitor lizards and a chopped up Malayan sun bear in a car repair shop in Kuantan, Pahang.


Main course: A collared scops owl. — Pic by Puan Chong Leong

The show wasn’t over. There were two more seizures in Johor that year: one yielded 37 owls in Yong Peng in July and another yielded 246 owls in Endau, in September.

Altogether, the period of 2008 to 2009 saw the biggest seizure of owls ever recorded in the country, a total of 1,519 carcasses. The seizures caught wildlife officials by surprise. There have been no indicators of local demand for owl consumption, and until those reports surfaced, large-scale trading of owls in Malaysia had completely escaped the radar.

“Local restaurants have been known to offer bear, fruit bats, deer, monitor lizards, turtles … it’s a long list, but we haven’t seen owls on offer,” says Traffic South-East Asia deputy regional director Chris Shepherd.

“We weren’t even looking at owls. We really hadn’t heard of people harvesting owl at all in Malaysia, and suddenly there was almost a thousand of them seized (in the Muar case).”


Magnificent: A brown wood owl. In Malaysia, owls are poorly studied and it is feared that they are being hunted for the exotic meat trade. — Pic by Chris Shepherd

Shepherd brings up the question of whether trade could have previously gone undetected.

Both Traffic and Perhilitan suspect the owls, along with the other wildlife confiscated, were due for export, probably to China which, despite local and international laws, has a thriving trade in endangered wildlife.

Malaysia is both an attractive supply and transit country, and many of the species found including pangolins and bear parts for example, are popular in the meat and traditional medicine markets of China, especially in Guangzhou.

There, an increasingly affluent population is fuelling demand for endangered wildlife traditionally regarded as culinary delicacies.


An immature barred eagle owl. — Pic by Puan Chong Leong

There are news reports of owls being among the many wildlife items served in restaurants in Guangzhou.

“It really does warrant further investigation,” says Shepherd, adding that funding limits what conservationists can do, and therefore, hardly any work has been conducted to investigate the extent of owl consumption in China’s meat markets.

Many unknowns

After the flurry of seizures however, it seems the trail has run cold. A black hole of information surrounds the issue of poaching of wild owls.

Some of the culprits in the illegal trade have been penalised, however.

In the Muar case, one man was fined RM21,000 under four charges for cruelty to wildlife and illegal possession of 10 species, some protected, some totally protected and one immature protected animal.


Wildlife ecologist Puan Chong Leong will embark on a study on owl ecology. In front of him is a stuffed specimen of a collared scops owl from 1979, part of the Museum of Zoology’s collection at Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Similar charges were laid upon one man in the Yong Peng case, who was fined RM6,000, another in the Endau case, who was fined RM5,000, and yet another in the Kuantan case, who was fined RM3,000 for each charge, plus a one-month jail sentence to run concurrently.

Pahang Perhilitan director Khairiah Shariff was surprised with the first seizure as no one had heard of owl poaching before. Until now, she still has no idea where the birds came from and whether the trade has been going on, undetected.

The man arrested in Kuantan was 33, a sub-contractor and possibly a bystander. Like all the other men arrested, he would not reveal who “owned” the animals. The man arrested in the Muar case revealed that he had been collecting wildlife from locals and orang asli in Segamat and the Pahang border for the past five or six years prior to his arrest.

Barn owls formed the bulk of the seizures, making up 796 of the 917 birds confiscated in Muar. The species is commonly distributed throughout plantations across the peninsula. Other species seized included 95 spotted wood owls, 14 buffy fish owls, eight barred eagle owls, and four brown wood owls.

Could these have been taken from any of the millions of hectares of oil palm estate throughout Malaysia where, thanks to the building of nest boxes by planters to encourage the birds to breed and act as biological pest control agents, barn owls have grown in numbers?

One article published earlier this year in The Planter, a publication by the Incorporated Society of Planters, raised the possibility that barn owls might be taken directly from nest boxes or caught in nets set up across forest clearings.

However, officials at two big oil palm plantation companies, Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad and Sime Darby Plantation, say no anomalies in the number of barn owls present on their estates have been reported.

“It’s hard to say who are catching the owls,” says Shepherd. “It could be people who are working in the plantations themselves, or people employed by wildlife dealers to go after the birds. If you ask that about pangolins, or freshwater turtles or cobra, then yes they are.”

Shepherd explains how wildlife plunder generally happens all over the region: “In a rural area, there will be agents there willing to buy wild animals from you. But is this the situation with owls? We don’t know.”

It is difficult to say whether people should be worried about Malaysia’s owls, seeing little is known of them. However, Shepherd thinks if the trade is like what was seen in 2008 and 2009, and continues undetected, it can have a serious impact on wild owl populations.

“Owls are top predators, so they play a really important role. Generally they require a large territory and the habitat requirements for some species are a lot more specialised than others. And as for any species that occurs in low densities, wiping them out is much easier than those which occur in higher densities.”

Resources to investigate the trade in wild meat is now channelled to higher priority species, such as tigers and bears. So the trade in owls remain ignored.

“Very few people know about Malaysia’s owls and because of that, even fewer would care, and that should change. A lot of countries have an owl trust, or research and monitoring groups, but we don’t have that. Although there’s a growing interest in bird watching and bird conservation, it hasn’t gotten to the point where it is of benefit to the owls yet.”

Over two years have passed since the 2008 and 2009 seizures, and questions still remain. Is it still happening? Exactly how big is the industry, and was that just the tip of an iceberg? Unfortunately, it looks like we are unlikely to be receiving answers any time soon.

Related Story:
Scoping the owl

NO, you cannot keep sun bear as pet! Take 2

Recently I am dealing with several cases of pet sun bear cubs. Among them are Fulung, Bunbun, Mary (we rescued this cub 3 days ago, stay tuned for her story), an unknown sun bear cub in West Malaysia, and this morning a reader from my blog asked me “where can I get one of these bears for myself?”. My answer to him was crystal clear: “No! You cannot get a sun bear for yourself!! It is a serious offense if you do. You will be fined, jailed, and caned if you do! Probably burn in hell too!”

No, no one can keep a sun bear as pet! Absolutely no one!

Sun bear is listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threaten Animals. They are an endangered species. They are protected species by both national and international laws. In all range countries where sun bears are found, there are local and national wildlife protection laws that prohibit any one from killing, capturing, selling, keeping, harassing, etc., of sun bear. In addition, there are international laws like CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) prohibit any illegal trade of sun bears and their parts between countries. In short, YOU CANNOT OWN A SUN BEAR AS PET!

Why can’t you t own a sun bear as pet, although they are small, so cute, and super cuddly?    


1) Protected by Law:  Like I mentioned earlier, they are protected by law no matter where you are! In Malaysia, offenders can be fined up to RM100,000, jailed 5 years or both.

2) Dangerous I: Sun bear is a wild carnivore. They are very strong and equip with large canines and sharp claws that can do a lot of damage. In the wild, they use their strong claws and canines to break termite nests, and bee hives, even the bee hives that are found inside iron wood, one of the hardest wood in the world.

3) Dangerous II: They are wildlife that cannot be tame. The domestication of dogs and cats took thousands of years and generations. If you think you can tame a wild caught sun bear (even if it is a cub), I advise you to think again.  

4) Sun bear serve important ecological roles such as seed disperser, ecosystem engineer, forest doctors etc., in the forest ecosystem. By removing a sun bear from the forest to captivity, you eliminate the important roles they will play in the forest.

5) Fuel wildlife market: By buying a sun bear as pet, you fuel (encourage) the wildlife pet trade market. You will encourage more people wanting to keep sun bear as pets. There will be more poachers looking for sun bear cubs in the forest. These poachers often have to kill the mother bears in order to capture her cubs. In addition, there will be more middle man to trade sun bears as it is a lucrative business.

6) Ethically and morally wrong: sun bear is part of the forest ecosystem in SE Asia. They evolve and survive in these forests for the past 5 million years. They have every ethical rights, ecstatic and intrinsic values to be part in the forest ecosystem. Any actions that result the killing, extirpation of the bear from these forests are therefore ethically wrong.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is set up because of many sun bears being kept as pets. (Read more at At first it was fun to have a super cute sun bear in your house. However, as a bear, they have to grow fast and grow strong quickly to face all the challenges to survive. After several months, they grow big, become so strong and aggressive to a point their “owner” (they like to be called as a bear lovers) cannot handle them because they become too dangerous to be a “pet”. Al this point, there are often 3 options happen to the bears: a) make some money from the bears by killing the bears and sell their body parts, b) continue to keep them in small cage, and c) surrender to the authority. Regardless of what options, the life and the faith of the bears are mean to be doomed and worst them doomed. They are in hell!

Read the 3 parts blogs that I wrote few years ago:

 After BSBCC was established 3 years ago, we have rescued 26 caged sun bears. Few days ago one of our volunteer asked me if I was happy to have Mary our latest rescued sun bear cub. I do not know how to answer her. I was not happy at all to see these bears being rescue. How can I possibly be happy if I know their mother was killed, habitat being destroyed, although she was so sweet and cute sucking my finger. I am glad we rescued her and she end up under our care in BSBCC. I can only be glad, not happy, that Mary is here. If you notice, my smiley face has long gone after I set up BSBCC because every day I see these rescued bears in BSBCC. Most of them definitely look happier and are definitely are happier than before. To me, I can only be glad but not happy because I know the sad and sorrow stories behind each and every one of our bears.

Please, do not keep sun bear as pet, if you are mentally normal and warm blooded!

Please, report any unlawful of keeping, killing, and trading of sun bears and its parts to the local authorities!

Please, help us spread the words and raise conservation awareness for this little forgotten bear!

~ Siew Te Wong

The story of Fulung – Part I

Photos credit: Colleen Tan 



Very cute sun bear baby’s photos.

Yes, Fulung the sun bear cub is VERY cute!

NO! You cannot keep a sun bear baby as pet! Please report to the authority if you see any illegal sun bears being kept as pets.


In early August I was informed that there was a sun bear baby being kept as a pet by a villager in Long Pasir, a remote small village located at southern most Sabah, close to the Sarawak boarder. After several phone calls, I was managed to communicate with Colleen Tan, a tourism coordinator for Long Pasir who visited the village on a regular basis. From her conversation and emails, I got to know the story of Fulung a lot better. Here is what Colleen wrote to me about Fulung the sun bear cub:

“An interesting story about a male sun bear from Long Pasia named FULUNG (Lundayeh Language) which mean “hutan” in Malay or forest. Last year 01 December 2010, I was there at the homestay first saw the baby sun bear  (age 2 months) I was told that the sun bear was rescued from the hunting dog in the Long Pasia jungle. The baby sun bear was seriously injured. The hunter brought back to home and feed it, care it, maybe they use traditional medicine, until recovery today, as you can see from the photos i took & attached herewith.



The baby sun bear is very cute and roar at midnight, morning, afternoon & evening for milk, During his 3 months, can run and chase people in the family and very naughty. Not always in the cage but free to run outside in the house, play, and bath. It roars at stranger (visitor) for a while but then friendly. It seem that he knew the family member. The family called him FULUNG he recognized 🙂


During my visit to Long Pasia in January, February & May 2011, I took many photos of FULUNG. The sun bear is growing bigger and bigger and need more food. He will complaint if the porridge mixed with normal water and no sugar added in. He wanted rice + warm water + sugar, just like honey rice. They feed the baby sun bear with Dutch Lady & Nespray powder milk, banana, rice + warm water + sugar. I gave him mandarin orange and feed him banana. He plays the ball and sleep well and roar again when hungry. What a cute sun bear, living happily with the family?! But still belong to the forest.



The family wanted to put back to the forest after few months but think of him will be back to home looking for them, and worried about others hunter, so they decided to treat him as a pet for the time being. Although other visitor offer to buy the sun bear for what purpose I don’t know, but the family don’t want to sell, worried if the sun bear being killed for certain part of the body.”


To be continue…

Stay tuned!