Tag Archives: rearing wildlife

An Un-bear-able trade

Report from http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2012/01/17/an-un-bear-able-trade/

An Un-bear-able trade

Stephanie Sta Maria  | <!–

January 17, 2012

–>January 17, 2012

Bear farming is rife in Asia with Malaysia as one of its prime product producers and consumers.


Louis Ng is no stranger to close encounters with animals in distress. But nothing quite prepared him for the emotional exchange with an adult bear outside a bear farm in Laos.

A film-maker had stumbled upon the farm and contacted Ng, the co-founder and executive director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) in Singapore.

When he visited the farm in November 2009, the sight that greeted him was that of a female bear lying motionless in a cage.

The owner explained that she was refusing food and starving herself to death so he had left her outside to meet her inevitable end. Ng crouched near but a safe distance from the cage and watched her.

After a few minutes the bear, who was on her 10th day of hunger strike pushed a limp paw through the cage bars and weakly flexed her claws in Ng’s direction. He realised with a start that she was reaching for his hand. And so he gave it to her.

The two “held hands” in silence for a few minutes. Ng remembers the bear’s eyes being flooded with both anguish and gentleness. She died the next day.

In a world where dignity is sometimes only delivered by death, this bear was the lucky one. She died after three years of living on that farm.

Over 12,000 other bears will serve up to 10 years of their lives in similar farms throughout Asia where they will “contribute” their bile to meet the region’s unsatiable demand for its healing properties.

Horrific procedure

“This farm had 29 bears in cages just large enough for them to stand up,” Ng said. “All you hear when you walk inside is the constant banging of heads against those cages.”

Solitude, pain and fear have literally driven the bears mad. Their only outlet is to ram their heads against their tiny prison cells or starve themselves to death.

At this point anything is preferable to the horrific procedure of having their gall bladder drained of bile twice a day to fuel a growing trade.

The medical use of bear bile dates back to the Tang Dynasty in 659 AD. Its only therapeutic component is ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) which makes up 15% to 39% of bile in bears compared to its 5% in humans.

Bear bile was traditionally used for gastric bypass surgery and to treat minor ailments like sore throats, sprains and epilepsy. As the bile was taken from the intact gall bladders of bears killed in the wild, the absence of torture eased consumers’ minds.

But the supply was meagre and led to high prices on bear bile medicines. Consumers had also began rejecting bile in pharmaceutical products for its synthetic origins which gave rise to demand for wild-sourced bile from live bears.

In the 1970s, South Korea invented a method of extracting bile from live bears. It was cruel, excruciating and the golden ticket to a booming trade.

“The bile is removed from the bear by inserting a catheter tube through a permanent incision in the abdomen and gall bladder,” Ng said. “Sometimes a permanently implanted metal tube is used.”

Dual role

Imagination eliminates the need to describe the pain that comes with this practice. Most bears are too weak or crazed to protest but those that do face a worse punishment.

“One cub took a swipe at the farmer,” Ng said. “The height of its cage was halved so it could only lie on its back.”

“It soon started gnawing on its own paw which is what happens when bears lose their minds. Often they end up chewing their own limbs off.”

But none of these details reach the ears of the Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese and Malaysian consumers who frequent the 124 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shops in Malaysia.

A 2010 report by wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, found that while China is the prime origin for bear bile products in Asia, Malaysia is among a string of Asian countries that play the dual role of producer and consumer.

What most concerns Matt Hunt, chief executive of Free The Bears Fund in Australia, about the report is that a significant number of Malaysia’s TCM shops were found to be selling wild-sourced bear gall bladders.

“This means that Sun bears in Malaysian forests are being hunted to feed this trade,” he pointed out. “The Sun bears are an important part of Malaysia’s forest eco-systems and these traders are robbing future Malaysians of their cultural inheritance.”

“The bear bile pills, flakes and ointments in Malaysian TCM shops were found to have originated in Malaysia itself, which is a breach of international agreements on bear trade.”

Illegal status

According to Ng, the price of a gall bladder costs as much as a packet of heroin in the black market. Consumers fork out about RM730 for 127g while one milligram of bile is priced at RM60. Each extraction from a live bear yields 10 milligram of bile.

Malaysian TCM shopowners and staff interviewed by TRAFFIC Malaysia revealed that a majority of the gall bladders sold were wild-sourced and that they were aware of its illegal status.

This ambivalence is bad news for the Asiatic Black bears, Sun bears and Brown bears, the three species who are hunted for their parts.

The Asiatic and Sun bears are already given the “vulnerable” status and the director of TRAFFIC, Chris Shepherd, confirmed that the latter is being killed in Malaysia for local consumption and smuggling.

“Bear farming is also spreading with more farms opening in Laos and Myanmar,” he said.

“TRAFFIC has encouraged a clampdown on TCM outlets and wild meat restaurants in Malaysia but more awareness is needed among consumers.”

“The police and customs departments have to be more involved in combating wildlife trade and you can judge the level of enforcement with the level of open availablity of products.”

The single spark of hope for now is surprisingly Laos where bear farming is outlawed and the government reportedly is exercising its political muscle to reverse the cycle.

Rescue centre

Free The Bears Fund and ACRES are currently in talks with the Laotian government on efforts to rescue the bears and eventually close down the many Laotian farms.

“Many more farmers are moving into Laos following the clampdown in their countries,” Ng said. “A second-generation of bear farming is now taking place there. But our work with the government is very positive.”

“I personally don’t think the farmers are born with a cruel hand. They are just poor people who are looking for money and who have grown immune to the condition of those farms.”

Ng is in the midst of setting up a rescue centre in Laos on a five-hectare site with a 12-room building for volunteers and two enclosures measuring one hectare each to accommodate 29 bears.

Not only will the bears be rescued but they will also be put through a rehabilitation process to help them adapt to a community after being in solitary confinement for so long.

The RM1.5-million facility is expected to be ready for volunteers by June. It will be a big step forward on a still long road towards saving Asia’s bear population.

Ng’s passion for animal rights is hardly surprising for someone who received the Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore Award in 2007.

But if you ask him today, he would attribute the current ferocity of his passion to the female bear that he met outside the first Laotian farm.

“Any human treated that way would have spitted at you but this bear offered her paw,” he said quietly. “And her death was the only choice she made for herself in her life. It shouldn’t be in vain.”

Long way to go- Wildlife Matters – By Azrina Abdullah


This article was printed from Sun2Surf

Article’s URL: http://www.thesundaily.com/article.cfm?id=60213


Long way to go

By Azrina Abdullah

By: (Sun, 24 Apr 2011)

National Geographic Magazine published last year The Kingpin, an expose on wildlife smuggling. The story’s author, Bryan Christy, recently won a Genesis Award by the Humane Society for ‘Most Outstanding Written Word’. I caught up with him to get his thoughts on the impact of the story and Malaysia’s progress in wildlife trade management. WHAT has your story and the award achieved for conservation?
There is a history of treating wildlife traffickers as amusing, small-time smugglers who are only smuggling a couple of parrots. Wildlife traffickers like Anson Wong move endangered species around the world and employ all the same techniques as other criminal syndicate heads, whether drug traffickers, human traffickers, or arms traffickers. Hopefully, the article and the award will get more media to treat commercial-scale, wildlife traffickers as the global criminals they are.


When the story was published, it received an overwhelming response from many Malaysians. Were you expecting such a response from Malaysia?
I was surprised. When you spend enough time on wildlife-related crime you get used to people not caring. But the response from the Malaysian people, journalists, politicians and NGOs was immediate and commendable. Everybody got involved. The people took the lead. Letters flooded newspapers demanding reform, Op-Eds were published. Major policy influencers such as yourself made sure Perhilitan (Wildlife and National Parks Department) could not hide from its record. NGOs including Traffic, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, and NatureAlert pressed for administrative and legislative reform. Members of Parliament demanded change. As a result, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry finally announced action. The results demonstrate there is an ecosystem that can address cancers like wildlife traffickers if everyone in the system plays his or her part.

You have been following Malaysia’s efforts on addressing its illegal wildlife trade matters over the past few years and of course, Anson Wong’s imprisonment. Thoughts?
The demand for reform has been amazing. Last year, Malaysia passed the Wildlife Conservation Act. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided Perhilitan. The ministry changed its special permits programme and promised to revamp Perhilitan management. Anson was caught and sentenced to prison, his business was closed, his licences were cancelled, and his animals, including his tigers, seized. But, when you peel these back a little you see that not everything is as it appears. The ministry has not followed through with its promise to revamp Perhilitan. The MACC investigation went nowhere. When Anson Wong was arrested, the government seized his cell phones and laptop. This was one of the most important wildlife crime intelligence opportunities ever, not just for Malaysia but for the world. Wong’s emails, documents, and contacts listed could expose the network of wildlife traders around the world, but the government has not pursued that opportunity. Amazingly, I’m told Perhilitan has taken possession of Wong’s equipment.

It’s been three years since I first wrote about Anson Wong in my book The Lizard King, in that time we have not seen a single additional major wildlife trafficker exposed in Malaysia …. it seems it will only do something after the people demand it. If that’s the case, it’s up to the people, NGOs and journalists to expose other wildlife traffickers in Malaysia.

I’ve touched on corruption among government officers in my column but have never found a satisfactory answer to the question of how we should deal with it. Your National Geographic article tells the story of how a wildlife trafficker prospered for this very reason. What are your thoughts on addressing this problem?
Before I respond, I want to say first that your column has been critically important to wildlife conservation. You have consistently shone a bright light on problem areas, with very positive results for reform in Malaysia and around the world. I hope you will keep doing it, and that others will join you in speaking out.

We did not emphasise the word corruption in the story. We didn’t have to. Malaysia’s record on stopping wildlife smuggling is disastrous. Until he was caught by an airport employee smuggling snakes through KLIA last year, Perhilitan’s leadership denied Anson Wong had ever committed a crime. In 1997, after the US Government caught Wong smuggling wildlife, he confessed in a US federal court to years of smuggling endangered species. Instead of investigating him, Perhilitan’s deputy director-general accused the US Government of framing him. When The Lizard King first came out the deprtment issued a press statement attacking me as a liar and called my book “completely made up”.

Wildlife traffickers around the world use Malaysia as a hub. From African gorillas to Malagasy tortoises, rare species are moved to and through Malaysia by wildlife kingpins. It has been going on for decades. As government agencies, Perhilitan and Customs bear primary responsibility for the success of wildlife traffickers.

In general, I am not talking about lower level officers. I’ve met a lot of dedicated Perhilitan officers and rangers. If given strong leadership, I believe those officers could make a positive difference. The problem is not Perhilitan, it is Perhilitan’s top leadership.

As for fixing corruption, there is a relatively simple test for who should be allowed to lead wildlife-related law enforcement institutions: Have wildlife traffickers significantly prospered during a government official’s tenure? Whether the reason is corruption, incompetence, or some other excuse is not as important as having the right people in the right jobs. A small group of government officials have presided over Malaysia’s rise to become one of the world’s worst wildlife trafficking hubs. Ineffective governance is a far greater threat to rare wildlife than any single wildlife trafficker.

Azrina has completed a report on the link between Orang Asli and wildlife trade in Belum-Temengor. She hopes the government will read it. Comments: [email protected]

— end —



Do you care enough?

Do you care enough?

Written and sing by JP Taylor 


Thank you JP for making this video and song.

Please check out other songs by JP:

“Singin’ for the Earth”




[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KrqrGQCoB1Q" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Do you care enough?

When something’s just not right                   

Not the way that it should be    

We can choose to join the fight           

Or pretend we just don’t see              

But when it’s right before your eyes    

It can reach inside your soul                         

There’s just no place to hide                        

Let your heart take control                                    



When are we gonna care enough

To let our minds see through our eyes

When are we gonna really see

The way things are happening?

Oh, when are we gonna care enough?

Oh, when are we gonna care enough?


If a tree falls in the forest                            

Five thousand miles from here                     

Does it even make a sound?                         

Is the question that you hear                        

But the sound, it doesn’t matter                   

As it’s falling to the ground                         

But how many more will follow                    

Til the last one’s taken down                        




When are we gonna open our eyes                

When are we gonna realize                                    

The way it’s gonna be                                   

It’s up to you and me                                   



A song that is “Calling on you!”

Amir Yussof, a big fan and good friend of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre wrote a song from the sun bear point of view : “Calling On You!”

Thanks Amir and your friends for singing this song to rimind us that we need sun bears and all other wildlife in the forest for a better tomorrow!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/k9OTk9nVBq8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Please click here for “Calling on you!”:


YeePee! Finally Malaysia passed new wildlife law!


Malaysia gets tough new wildlife law

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5 August 2010—Malaysia’s Parliament this week passed the country’s tough new Wildlife Conservation Bill 2010 which provides significantly higher penalties and mandatory jail terms for wildlife crime.

The new law, expected to come into force by the end of this year, will replace the 38-year-old Protection of Wild Life Act.

The highest penalty in the existing Act is a maximum fine of RM15,000 (USD4,700) or five years jail, or both, for hunting a Sumatran Rhino, Tiger or Clouded Leopard.

Under the newly passed law, the same offence carries a minimum fine of RM100,000 (USD 31,600), and a jail term not exceeding five years.

It also provides for minimum fines, a mandatory jail sentence for setting snares and closes loopholes by providing penalties for products claiming to contain parts of protected species or its derivative, and preventing zoos from operating without a permit.

The Bill widens the list of agencies empowered to enforce wildlife laws by including Police and Customs officers, and it protects more species of wildlife.

Those convicted of a wildlife crime under the new law will be barred from holding any license, permit or special permit for five years from the commencement of a case.

Illegal trade in key species such as pangolins and monitor lizards, have also been singled out for tougher penalties.

“Finally, agencies have a solid wildlife law that they can wield against poachers and smugglers who have had little to fear from the paltry fines and jail sentences of the past,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Director Dr William Schaedla.

“TRAFFIC Southeast Asia would like to congratulate the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, as well as the Department of Wildlife and National Parks on the passing of the Bill.

“The new law has given Malaysia the means and the opportunity drive home the message that it is serious about curbing this menace.

“So we hope the new law will be the catalyst for an all out war against wildlife crime and that it will result in more prosecution of such criminals in the courts,” he said.

The new Bill received widespread support from the public with many writing to their Members of Parliament asking them to support it when it was being debated. Among them were the thousands who also signed a petition last year seeking better protection for Malaysia’s wildlife.

The Bill aims to protect domestic wildlife. This June, Malaysia’s International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 came into force. Two women found guilty of attempting to smuggle tortoises from Madagascar into the country became the first to be convicted under the Act and were each sentenced to a year in jail.



Clips from Orangutan Diary showing the devastating events of habitat destruction in Borneo.

People say a photo is worth a thousand words. I say a video is worth a thousand photos.

Watch for yourself to see how serious is the deforestation in Borneo in the name of producing palm oil to feed human needs and greed.

I just watched the BBC’s Orangutan Diary series few days ago. Although I have seen these deforestations with my own eyes in Borneo, seeing the same thing again from my computer’s screen was equally disturbing. As what Steve put it, “We don’t have to do this!”

Every time when the presenters of the show, Steve Leonard and Michaela Strachan, mentioned that the habitats of orangutans being destroyed due to deforestation and logging, the same thing applied to other Bornean wildlife such as sun bears, clouded leopards, pygmy elephants, critically endangered Sumatran rhinos, gibbons, and many more wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibian, etc., etc.

Although disturbing to watch, the world need to see this and know that this is actually happening on the other part of the world where they watch the video from. We are living on the same planet, what ever happen on Borneo or other part of the world, will eventually effect us.

Please help. Please spread the words about the deforestation in Borneo! 

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/qmRaN5OcQZs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

New homes for condo sun bear and pets

Wednesday December 9, 2009

New homes for condo pets


SHAH ALAM: The young Malayan honey bear which was rescued from a cage in a condominium on Friday has been sent to the Malacca Zoo.

Two other wild animals rescued from the condominium — a slow loris and a leopard cat — have been sent to Selangor Wildlife and Natio­nal Parks animal conservation centre in Paya Indah Wetlands and the Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve Fo­rest in Hulu Selangor, respec­tively.

According to Abdul Jalal Kassim, an official with the department, the animals were transferred to their new homes on Monday after a court order was obtained.

On the same day, he said, a man believed to be the owner of the animals surrendered to the department.

The 29-year-old man was accompanied by the woman who was earlier arrested at the condominium for keeping the wild animals.

Officials recorded his statement before releasing him.

On Friday, the 25-year-old hotel worker was arrested for keeping the three animals, classified as endangered species, in the condominium unit in Desa Pandan which was occupied by her and her male relative.

She was released on bail after her statement was recorded.

The man was not in the condominium when the place was raided.

The animals were believed to have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as pets in the condominium.

The two could be charged under Section 64(2)(a) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which carries a fine of up to RM3,000 or a jail sentence of up to two years, or both.

The bear can fetch a price of RM5,000 on the local market while the slow loris and the big cat are worth about RM500 each.


Woman found rearing sun bear and other wildlife in condominium


Published: Monday December 7, 2009 MYT 12:37:00 PM
Updated: Monday December 7, 2009 MYT 3:30:34 PM

Woman found rearing wildlife in condominium


SHAH ALAM: A 25-year-old hotel worker was arrested for keeping a baby Honey Bear, a Leopard Cat and a Slow Loris in a condominium unit in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

All the animals, which are endangered species, were found in individual cages in the unit, where the woman was living with her male relative.

The woman has since been released on bail untill Dec 29 after giving her statement.

The animals were found during a raid carried out on Friday evening by the enforcement officers from the Selangor Wildlife Department following a public tip-off.

Department deputy director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad said they were now looking for the woman’s male relative, who is in his 30s, to help the department in its investigation.

He said only the woman and the animals were in the house when enforcement officers arrived.


Initial investigation showed the animals could have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as a pet in the condominium in the past three months, he told a press conference here on Monday.

Khairi said the baby bear could be sold for about RM5,000 while the cat and the slow loris was worth about RM500 each in the market.

He warned that the public not to keep or buy wildlife as it was against the law.

“This case is only the tip of the iceberg and we believe there are many out there who are having wild animals as pets in their home.

“This is not the way to love the wildlife. They belonged to the wild,” he added.

Khairi also said usually, a hunter would have to kill the mother of a cub before he could take away the animal, which was a cruel act.

He added that the department would get a court order to send the animals to the Malacca Zoo or released them back to the wild.





Bela beruang di kondo

SHAH ALAM 7 Dis. – Jabatan Perlindungan Hidupan Liar dan Taman Negara (Perhilitan) Selangor merampas beruang matahari, kongkang dan kucing batu yang dipelihara seorang lelaki dalam serbuan di sebuah kondominium di Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur dekat sini Jumaat lalu.

Bagaimanapun ketika serbuan kira-kira 7.30 malam itu, lelaki warga tempatan yang memelihara ketiga-tiga binatang liar yang merupakan spesies dilindungi itu tiada di kediamannya.

Sehubungan itu, pihak Perhilitan menahan seorang wanita berusia 25 tahun yang turut tinggal di kondominium tersebut dan mengaku sebagai saudara suspek bagi membantu siasatan.

Timbalan Pengarah Perhilitan Selangor, Mohammad Khairi Ahmad berkata, serbuan yang dilakukan oleh empat anggotanya itu dibuat hasil maklumat orang awam.

Beliau berkata, siasatan awal mendapati kesemua binatang liar yang dipelihara suspek dibeli daripada Orang Asli di Negeri Sembilan sejak tiga bulan lalu.

Menurut beliau, kongkang dan kucing batu dipercayai dibeli dengan harga RM500 seekor sementara beruang matahari pula RM5,000.

”Kita percaya suspek yang berusia 30-an membeli binatang liar itu untuk dibela.

”Oleh kerana suspek gagal dikesan semasa serbuan, kita menahan wanita di kondominium tersebut ketika itu bagi membantu siasatan.

”Bagaimanapun selepas diambil keterangan wanita itu dibebaskan dengan jaminan dan akan dipanggil semula pada 29 Disember ini di Mahkamah Ampang untuk tujuan pendakwaan,” kata beliau kepada pemberita di pejabat Perhilitan Selangor, di sini hari ini.

Menurut Mohammad Khairi, pihaknya masih mencari suspek sebenar yang memelihara kesemua binatang tersebut dan memintanya menyerah diri.

Ujar beliau, suspek akan didakwa di bawah Seksyen 64(2)(a) Akta Perlindungan Hidupan Liar 1972 (Akta 76) dan jika sabit kesalahan denda maksimum tidak melebihi RM3,000 atau dipenjara tidak melebihi dua tahun atau kedua-duanya.

Tambah beliau, Perhilitan akan mendapatkan perintah mahkamah bagi menentukan sama ada binatang-binatang tersebut akan dilepaskan ke habitat asalnya ataupun dihantar ke zoo.