Tag Archives: wildlife

Cops on the trail of animal killers


Tuesday February 19, 2013

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‘Crime scene’: Malacca Zoo director Azman Ghazali pointing out where the bear was found poisoned and dead.

‘Crime scene’: Malacca Zoo director Azman Ghazali pointing out where the bear was found poisoned and dead.


MALACCA: The hunt is on for the killers of a 14-year-old female Malayan Sun Bear and an Arabian stallion at the Malacca Zoo.

Visitors alerted the zoo keepers when they saw a male Sun Bear lying protectively over the still body of its partner at about 5pm on Sunday.

“The keepers rushed to the site and found the animal lifeless,” said zoo veterinarian Dr Zubaidah Kamarudin.

A post-mortem revealed that the bear had eaten a banana laced with toxin.


Jumbo problem: The animal enclosures at Malacca Zoo are set up in a way that allows anyone to gain access into them.

An autopsy is yet to be performed on the 17-year-old horse “Basket” which was found dead by groomer P. Lohan around 7am yesterday.

“We have yet to identify the type of poison used but have lodged a police report,” Dr Zubaidah added.

She also said poison-laced oranges, bananas and sugar canes were found in the enclosures of a chimpanzee and two orang utans, which are believed to have refused to eat them because of the pungent smell. The feed has been sent to the Chemistry Department.

The zoo is not taking any chances. “We are monitoring the condition of the animals round the clock,” added Dr Zubaidah.

State CID deputy chief expressed confidence in catching the culprits soon.

He declined to elaborate but sources said police were looking for two former zoo workers seen at the elephants’ enclosure on Sunday trying to feed the animals.

“They ran off carrying a package when ex-colleagues spotted them,” a source said.

The sources believe the two were linked to private zoo operators.


Clear reminder: A signboard warning visitors not to feed the animals.

It is learnt that the Sun Bear was presented to the Malacca Zoo in 2000 after it was caught in the wilds of Johor.

The owner of the stallion had kept the horse at the zoo and it was not one of the exhibits.

The Malacca Zoo and Night Safari, sited on a 21.22ha zoological park, is the second biggest zoo in the country after Zoo Negara.

It has over 1,200 species of animals made up of 215 different types of birds as well as mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

The major attractions at the zoo include the critically-endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, Malayan Sun Bear, Malayan Gaur Oxen, Serow and the Malayan Tiger.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has offered an RM10,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of the culprits.

He also asked the zoo management to install CCTVs immediately.

Related Stories:
Perhilitan sends team to probe deaths
Animal activists and conservationists see red







Buying Sandals to help sun bears

Text by Anna Wade

Here at the BSBCC, we rely on the generosity of others to help us support our centre. It is incredibly important for us to try and maintain a high profile to make sure that people are aware of our cause and the work that is being carried out to protect the Sun Bear species. Recently, we have received the support of Ipanema, a company that sells sandals worldwide.

The campaign was instigated by Matthias Gelber, who is also known as ‘The Green Man.’ As stated on his website, he has a ‘passion for preserving the planet’s natural environment,’ and after visiting the BSBCC with other volunteers in June 2012. He was determined to help raise awareness in Malaysia for the work being carried out here. After talking to our founder, Wong, he said that he felt ‘extremely fortunate for all the information provided in regards to conservation, rehabilitation and initiatives being carried out at the BSBCC for the future preservation, survival and freedom of the Sun Bears.’ Armed with the knowledge shared by Wong, he set out to share news of the BSBCC to a wider network, through Ipanema.


Named after a beach on the coast of Rio De Janeiro, Ipanema products aim to ‘represent much more than fashion.’ On their U.K. website, they state that they have ‘a strong environmental and ethical influence that aims to preserve all this natural beauty for generations to come.’ In contributing to the BSBCC it appears that this is not merely a statement, but a mission they intend to fulfil. On the 29th of March this year, Ipanema launched their Gisele Bündchen Spring/Summer collection, donating 3 Malaysian Ringgit to the BSBCC for every pair of sandals sold from March 1st to June 30th. Press coverage of the event was aired on Saffiyah, Quickie and Wanita Hari Ini with a positive response to the collection and its involvement with the BSBCC.

Not only is the Ipanema Gisele Bündchen range Sun Bear friendly, it is also environmentally friendly. In an interview at the campaign launch, Matthias Gelber said that the Ipanema Gisele Bündchen product materials had been designed specifically to ‘enhance the recyclability’ and he believed that it was a ‘3 in 1’ product as it was a ‘green brand, had green philosophy and supported a local charity.’

As the Ipanema Gisele Bündchen collection continues to raise money for the BSBCC, we give our heartfelt thanks to all of those who have been involved in this campaign. It is fundraisers like this that help us to continue to rescue and rehabilitate Sun Bears and provide the standard of care that they deserve. It also helps us to spread the word regarding the plight of Malaysia’s vulnerable bear. So what are you waiting for? Time to get a new pair of sandals to help sun bears!

Headman with leopard, bear and other protected wildlife parts arrested


by Traffic Southeast Asia on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 6:47pm

By Elizabeth John

 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 14 May 2011 – Wildlife authorities arrested a village headman and seized leopard, bear and dear parts from a freezer in his house in the state of Pahang this morning.

 In the 1 am seizure, officers from the Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department found eight Malayan Sun Bear parts, five Leopard parts, eight whole Lesser Mouse-Deer and seven parts of Common Barking Deer in the house, department Director Khairiah Mohd Shariff told TRAFFIC.

 The man’s house, located the town of Bukit Ibam, is close to wildlife-rich jungles on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, about 240 kilometres from the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

 Khairiah said the suspect had long been on the department’s radar, and a tip-off enabled them to nab him red-handed, with the protected species in his house.

 Under Malaysia’s Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, the suspect, who is from an indigenous tribe, has the right to hunt certain protected species for his own sustenance or that of his family. This includes the Lesser Mouse-Deer. However, the Leopard and the Malayan Sun Bear are both totally protected.

 The penalty for illegally hunting a bear, is a fine of up to RM100,000 (USD 33,300) or up to three years in jail or both. Those found guilty of illegally hunting a Leopard can be fined between RM100,000 and RM500,000 (USD 166,500) and imprisonment for up to five years – one of the heaviest penalties for offences in Malaysia’s new wildlife law.

 This find comes on the heels of several successful raids by the Pahang Wildlife Department, including the seizure of Tiger parts from a restaurant owner in March this year and the arrest of three poachers with snares in April.

In October last year, the same Department caught a couple in the town of Pekan, also in Pahang, for trying to sell a three-month old tiger cub. They had wanted to sell it off for RM30,000 (USD 16, 600).

 This seizure of bear parts in this case is significant as it follows the release of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s report which showed that the illegal bear bile trade was rampant in Asia, with Malaysia as one of the countries/territories in which such products were most frequently observed.

 “The Wildlife Department in Pahang has again shown their commitment to stamping out illegal wildlife trade.  It is only through pro-active efforts such as these that Malaysia’s threatened wildlife will be saved,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Deputy Director Chris Shepherd.

 “This recent arrest of a village headman drives home the fact that no one is above the law.  TRAFFIC congratulates the Wildlife Department of Pahang for such significant actions,” he said.

 Important Note: Photographs from this seizure are not yet available. The photo used to illustrate this article is a TRAFFIC file photo from previous seizures. We hope to share the photos from this seizure as soon as they are available.

Seizure of sun bear parts in Pahang, May 2011

Seizure of sun bear parts in Pahang, May 2011

Seizure of leopard parts in Pahang, May 2011

Seizure of leopard parts in Pahang, May 2011

Seizure of mouse deers in Pahang, May 2011

Seizure of mouse deers in Pahang, May 2011

Wildlife crooks deserve no mercy


Thursday September 9, 2010

Wildlife crooks deserve no mercy

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We have to get tough with wildlife smugglers as the world is watching how serious we are about tackling the scourge.

FOR years, fingers have been pointed at Malaysia for being a wildlife smuggling centre. There have been allegations of corruption and collusion between rich rogues in the business and officials of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and Customs.

Finally, a man who has almost single-handedly tainted the country as a global hub for the illegal wildlife trade has been caught red-handed.

A bag containing 95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers and a matamata turtle burst on the conveyor belt at KLIA where Wong Keng Liang, 52, better known as Anson Wong, was on transit to Jakarta from Penang.

The mind boggles at the blatant bid to commit the dastardly crime. Is it that easy to board a flight at Penang airport with a bag full of boas wrapped in sarongs?

Now, the six months’ jail sentence for the world’s most wanted smuggler of endangered species smacks more of a sick joke than justice.

That’s all that he got in addition to being fined RM190,000 on Monday after pleading guilty to illegally exporting the reptiles.

Under the International Trade of Endangered Species Act 2008, he could have been slapped with RM100,000 for each of the poor creatures, or up to a maximum of RM1mil, or seven years’ jail, or both.

The man dubbed the “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade” was first arrested in Mexico in 1998 under an elaborate sting operation conducted by an elite undercover unit of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

(Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord, once controlled 80% of the cocaine illegally shipped into the United States via his Medellin cartel. On Dec 2, 1993, he was gunned down on the rooftop of the house he was hiding in while attempting to escape arrest.)

A US court sentenced Anson to six years’ jail and fined him US$60,000 (RM187,230) and the judge who sentenced him also barred him from selling animals to anyone in the US for three years.

But according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), two companies run by his family members – CBS Wildlife and Sungai Rusa Wildlife – defied the ruling and continued to ship wildlife to the US and elsewhere while Anson was in prison.

How did he manage to do it? The Lizard King: True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers, provides some shocking revelations.

The bestseller written by an ex-mortician’s assistant-cum-lawyer-turned-writer Bryan Christy highlights the absurdly close relationships Anson had with a senior Customs official in Penang and a top Perhilitan officer.

After the book was published last year, several non-governmental organisations lodged a police report against Anson, Perhilitan and the Customs over his ability to renew his special permits to keep wildlife, despite being a convicted endangered species smuggler.

A report was also lodged with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission on the possibility of corruption involving Perhilitan, with supporting documents dated between 1998 and 2003 showing correspondence the then Penang Perhilitan head had with the head office in Kuala Lumpur.

As if the book had not done enough damage, in January the National Geographic magazine carried a highly damning exposé of the world’s most notorious wildlife dealer.

Written by the then already world-renowned Christy, the article further reinforced Malaysia’s ignominy as an illegal wildlife trading haven.

It also gave insights into Anson’s reputedly powerful connections in the country including one senior officer referred to as “kecik kecik cili padi” (the smallest chillies are the hottest).

Christy wrote that Anson had boasted to George Morrison – head of the elite unit that nabbed him in Mexico on Sept 14, 1998 – that he had nothing to fear from the Customs Department or Perhilitan.

Referring to Morrison’s planted “mule”, Anson even reportedly bragged: “I had the second man of the Customs bring him out of the airport and drive him to my office.”

Anson also gloated that his company was doing between US$50mil (RM156 mil) and US$100mil (RM312mil) in annual sales.

The figures mentioned are certainly not questionable or shocking.

It has been estimated that wildlife criminals rake in between US$10bil (RM47.9bil) and US$20bil (RM95.8bil) annually around the world, a sum equivalent to 5% of the illegal international drug trade.

In the light of what has been revealed, the sentence against Anson is indeed “a tragedy”, as aptly described by Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr William Schaedla.

The verdict, he says, reflects unwillingness or inability to get tough with heinous wildlife criminals and failure to see justice served.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers has done the right thing by quickly filing an appeal against the incredibly light sentence.

Malaysia has no other choice but to get tough with wildlife smugglers. The whole world is watching how serious we are about tackling the scourge.

Our courts must send the correct message to these rogues that no mercy would be shown to them.

And if corruption were the main reason Malaysia remains one of the world’s largest hubs for trafficking in endangered species, heads must roll.

> Associate Editor M. Veera Pandiyan likes this quote by Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, commonly known as Horace: He who is greedy is always in want.

A tame punishment


A tame punishment


WE had a chance to severely punish a notorious wildlife trader and send a signal that we mean business in repairing our unwelcome reputation as an international hub for this illegal trade. But we blew it.

The penalty meted out by the courts to Anson Wong is a mere slap on the wrist, and reflects our inability to get tough with wildlife criminals. When enacted, the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 had drawn applause for its harsh penalties: a whopping maximum fine of RM100,000 for each animal smuggled.

Unfortunately, Wong was fined only RM2,000 for each of the 95 boa constrictors stuffed into his suitcase. So he got away with a RM190,000 fine – an amount which the businessman could easily cough out – instead of what could have been a deterrent penalty of close to RM1mil. The fines pale in comparison with the market price of boa constrictors of between RM200 and RM4,000 each on the Internet.

His jail term of six months is also disappointing as the Act provides for a maximum of seven years.

Paltry penalties have always been a scourge in the war against wildlife trafficking. The newly implemented Act is meant to overcome this. But when it comes to sentencing, the ball is in the court of the presiding judge. And it appears the seriousness of wildlife crime is not being fully appreciated despite the Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network and the Federal Courts of Malaysia holding a two-day workshop specifically for the judiciary last year.

Wong had an import permit to bring the snakes into Penang but not re-export permits to Indonesia. So he was caught on a technicality.

But closer scrutiny reveals unanswered questions. Isn’t it illegal to pack live animals into checked-in luggage under International Air Transport Association rules, not to mention endanger the lives of passengers? And what about the fact that Wong has a previous conviction in the United States, which landed him 71 months in jail and fined US$60,000 (RM187,000).

The man who has earned the monikers “Asian wildlife kingpin” and “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade” also had two rhinoceros vipers and a matamata turtle in his bag but there was no case here as these are not trade-regulated species.

Also, the charge against Wong did not specify the sub-species of boa constrictors. All boa constrictors, except for one sub-species, come under Appendix II of the Conven-tion on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites); this means they can be traded, but with permits.

Only an expert can differentiate between the sub-species, so what if Wong’s boa constrictors were actually the Appendix I sub-species, the Boa constrictor occidentalis, which is banned from trade? Perhilitan (Wildlife and National Parks Department) could have built a stronger case if it knew for sure.

And did Perhilitan investigate the source of the boa constrictors? Were they really captive-bred as claimed by Wong, and not wild-caught? Dealers routinely use the description “captive-bred” in order to obtain permits, so there could be another offence here.

Yet another unanswered question is why a convicted wildlife trafficker still holds permits to keep and trade in endangered animals. Perhilitan should immediately revoke all licences issued to Wong.

For sure, Wong’s “bag act” is not the first. Wildlife crime investigators say stuffing animals in luggage is the smugglers’ preferred modus operandi, along with concealment in shipments of legally approved animals. Unlike birds which can be noisy, reptiles are usually not drugged when packed into bags. But the animals will surely show up in airport X-ray scanners. So how did Wong’s bag get through the Penang airport security?

We need to ask ourselves: Should we condone the trading and keeping of wild animals? Or is it too much to expect Malaysians to care? On the whole, we don’t particularly treat domesticated animals well, so what more creatures of the wild.

Related Stories:
Wildlife trade is still roaring



Wednesday September 8, 2010

Wildlife trade is still roaring

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PETALING JAYA: Wildlife trafficker Anson Wong may be behind bars, but an animal collector claims several pet shops in the Klang Valley are still receiving their supply from sources related to him.

Nicholas Lee (not his real name), who has a collection of over 50 exotic pets, claimed that a pet shop owner told him that its supply of wild animals would not be cut off although Wong had been sentenced to six months in jail.

“In my years of collecting exotic animals, the pet shops that I frequent told me they received their supplies from Penang.

“It is a fact that there is only one wildlife supplier in Penang – Anson Wong,” said the 33-year-old, who started his hobby by keeping a few iguanas when he was in Form Four.

Lee, a marketing manager, said his pets were obtained legally and he had licences for each of them.

His exotic collection includes snakes, frogs, lizards and tarantula spiders.

Lee said wildlife collectors kept such animals because it was fascinating to see how they grew and behaved.

On Monday, Wong — described as the ‘’Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade’’ — was jailed six months and fined a total of RM190,000 for smuggling 95 snakes without a permit.

Wong was caught at the KL International Airport on Aug 26 while trying to smuggle boa constrictors without a permit to Jakarta.

He pleaded guilty to the offence.

Natural Resources and Envi­ronment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said his ministry would appeal and seek a tougher penalty against Wong as he believed the wildlife trafficker got off lightly.

The ministry’s senior legal adviser, Faridz Gohim Abdullah, who acted for the prosecution in Wong’s case, said the ministry should file their appeal within 14 days after the date of sentencing.

“However, this matter is now being handled by the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” he said.

Wong’s lawyer, M. Sivam, said he had yet to receive instructions from his client to appeal against his sentence.

Related Story:
A tame punishment



Appeal filed against Anson Wong’s sentence


PETALING JAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers has filed an appeal against the sentenced meted out to “Lizard King” Anson Wong for smuggling snakes.

The appeal is seeking for a heavier sentence against Wong, who was jailed six months and fined a total of RM190,000 by the Sepang Sessions Court for smuggling 95 snakes without a permit.

This is the first time the 52-year-old Penangite, who was caught at the KL International Airport on Aug 26 while trying to smuggle the boa constrictors to Jakarta, has been sentenced in Malaysia.

Various conservation groups had expressed disappointment with the sentence, saying that Malaysia should show that it was serious in tackling wildlife trafficking.

Related Stories:
A tame punishment
Wildlife trade is still roaring

Read more to learn what can you do about this problem:

Sun Bear BOLEH series: “Sun bear can climb!” Part III

Biologist Andrew Pierce took this very rare video footage with his cell phone of a wild sun bear climbing a tree and digging for honey in the tree truck in with one of his paw and teeth and powerful jaw several meters above the ground in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand. This video is a valuable resource to show us how sun bear make a living in the wild! Thanks Andrew for sharing with us!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ouj29wsSAkc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Hungry tiger shot dead by Rela member

Wednesday June 23, 2010

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SELAMA: A three-year-old male tiger was shot dead by a Rela member at Kampung Ulu Damaq in Sungai Bayor here yesterday.

Selama acting OCPD Asst Superintendent Ramli Mohammad said the tiger had been spotted several times in the village and that it had apparently killed poultry belonging to a villager.

He said in the 12.05pm incident, the tiger, weighing some 120kg, was believed to have strayed into the village, some 10km from the Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve to forage for food.

Spotting the tiger, the villager sought help from a friend, who is a Rela member, said ASP Ramli.


Shot to death: A department official showing the carcass of the tiger that was shot dead in Kampung Ulu Damaq in Sungai Bayor yesterday.

Armed with a shotgun, the Rela member killed the animal.

Perak Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said a team had been sent to the village to investigate the incident.

“The villager claimed the tiger had killed his poultry,” she said.

She added that the carcass had been sent to the Wildlife Conservation Centre in Sungkai for preservation.

Shabrina said the villager should have called the department to set a a trap to catch the animal.

“We will not hesitate to recommend that the Rela member be charged if investigations find any wrongdoing,” she added.

This is the second tiger that was reportedly killed in the state this year.

In February, a tiger was caught in a wire snare and was killed by an orang asli at the Bukit Tapah Forest Reserve.

Sun bear BOLEH series: “Sun bear can climb!” part 1

I always consider myself very lucky to be able to study the sun bear, the least known bear in the world. Over years of tracking down radio-collared sun bears in the rainforest of Borneo, I managed to witness some bazaar behaviors of this illusive mammal in the natural surroundings. One of these “holy cow!” behaviors was the tree-climbing skill of sun bears, which made me believe they are the most arboreal bears in the world. With their small body size as a bear species, black color pelt and agile slender arms, they look a lot like chimpanzee than any bear species to me. They are equipped with the best tree climbing tool, not with fingers like the chimpanzee and other primates, but four sets of curved and long claws, each control by exceptionally strong digit muscle. The claws clam in and dig deep in the tree bark, they simply “walk” up on the tall tropical rainforest trees like lumberjack climbing a tree with their spike shoes.   


Sun bear has all the reasons to be an arboreal mammal. First, a big portion of their food is found on top of a tree: fruits and invertebrates. Fruits are important for sun bear because they are available in large quantity, but finding fruiting trees are not easy. Beside fruits, invertebrates such as bee hives with yummy honey and larvae are nutritious food items to boost up body condition. Some species of bees build their hives inside tree cavities high above the ground for double protections. However, this will not deter a sun bear from breaking into the bee hives because sun bear climb really well, equipped with strong claws and canines to break into tree cavities, and sun bear’s determination to feed on honey as food is not easy to find in the forest. There is no better way to illustrate how much sun bears love honey other than showing these photos taken by Wineke Schoo in Danum Valley, the forest where I studied sun bears for six years in Borneo.





 The bigger black dot was a mother sun bear climbing up a huge tree, followed by a little black dot, her little cub. At this point, the mother bear already found the beehive and starting to break into hive. Little one followed.



 sun bear wineke

Wineke managed to get some zoo-in photos with her spotting scope. I know what you are trying to say, so am I! Thanks Wineke for sharing these photos. This is a lifetime experience to witness such amazing event taking place in our own planet! 

Now you know why sun bears are also known as honey bear (beruang madu) in local Malay language, simply because they love honey!

Photos credit: Wineke Schoo

~to be continue~

Volunteer’s Diary:sun bears & human-animal conflict

In the next few days, I will post blogs written by Mark Rusli, another voluneet from Singapore who is also an ex-animal keeper at Night Safari Singapore.

You can read all of his original posting at http://matahari-bears.tumblr.com =========================================================


sun bears & human-animal conflict

 By Mark Rusli

As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are increasing coming into conflict over living space and food. The consequences are often huge: people lose their livestock, crops, property, sometimes even their lives. The animals, regardless of whether they are endangered or threatened, are often killed in retaliation, or to prevent future conflicts.

Human-animal conflict is present everywhere.

In the case of the sun bears in Borneo, the large factor contributing to this is the astonishing large number of plantations, mostly palm oil. Large amounts of primary rainforests were cleared for agricultural purposes; until today agriculture plays a huge part in the country’s economy.

The situation gets extremely tricky for the bears: most wildlife seen in plantations are killed on sight because their foraging methods may have destructive long-terms effects on the agriculture grown. If you chase them way, they will come back – killing is justified as a more immediate solution.

Most bear populations are also isolated, scattered to various parts of Borneo. At times they travel to find a mate, or change territory, and this often involves crossing plantations. Even if the bears have no intention of stealing crops, how do farmers know the difference?

Traditional Medicine also contributes to the illegal trade in their products. I’m not just referring to Chinese medicine – the indigenous locals surprisingly have considerable beliefs that link sun bear body parts with having medicinal properties. Some of these beliefs have decades of history, and this makes it hard to combat. They were also brought up associating medicine as a form of mysticism, usually involving magic. Western medicine is probably something they avoid, because it is alien, different and new.

Also, judging from my personal experience with the medical infrastructure here, access to western medicine is really, really limited. If they don’t expand these facilities and make it easier for locals to have access to them, acclimatisation to this new institution will take a painfully long time. Why wait 3 hours for a person in a white suit to jab, probe and give you weird-looking pills, when your village elder, parents and neighbours ALL tell you that bear gall bladder gives you INSTANT! effects?

I’m not sure how many sun bears are still kept as pets, but I think I can safely assume that it is the rich (usually the Chinese) who sustained this practice. It is a status symbol, a wealth indicator, an avenue to express Man’s naked power over other beings….

These problems are not just exclusive to sun bears. As long as both humans and animals are present together, conflict is inevitable. They don’t have a choice, we just barge in their homes and dirty their floors without asking: it’s the equivalent of forced entry. We, on the other hand, have that decision to make. We don’t have a jail-term if found guilty, but we still have to live with it for the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately some of us don’t have that conscience. Is it too late to breed that?

Sunday, May 16th 2010 12:34am

Coal, Malaysia, and YOU! A message from LEAP- important message to save sun bear habitats and home for all!

Posted By: Angela Sevin 


Coal, Malaysia and YOU!

Hello, Greetings of peace, love and everything else!

To the members of the LEAP cause, there is urgent need for action in Malaysia right now!

I’m writing to you all from my home here in Oakland, California,

My heart is going out to all who are being affected by the oil spill in the gulf… and yes, I am speaking of all life on this earth! This is a global story, isn’t it? And the interconnectedness of our needs and wants intertwined with the sustainability of the planet is becoming more and more obvious, unavoidable, as we come together, in new and old ways, whether we desire that connection or not!

There is another story emerging out of the connections between my friends who live at San Quentin State Prison and a nascent grassroots environmental movement, led by my friend, Cynthia Ong, the ED of LEAP, from Malaysian Borneo. When in the US, Cynthia has been coming in to engage and visit with the men of The Green Life facilitation team at San Quentin over the last year. It has been a mutually transformative experience. From Cynthia comes the story of Sabah, a state in Malaysian Borneo, a pre-eminent biodiversity world heritage site, which is being threatened by the final stages of preparation for a 300MW coal-fired power plant. For the first time in cultural history, the local Malaysian community, together with a unified NGO coalition are opposing these plans.

Cynthia and LEAP are in full force working and meeting with George Lakoff, Dan Kammen and others (RAN, Monga Bay and as many international NGOs and individuals who will sign on!) . Together, we are strategizing an 11th hour international effort to dissuade Malaysia from building this coal plant on the borders of rainforest, indigenous communities, and fragile coast line ecosystems. Backroom corruption and intimidation characterize the methodology of the coal advocates all the way to the highest seats of power in the state and country. It comes down to the word and honor of the Prime Minister of Malaysia to decide on this tipping point issue that will affect generations to come.

I have learned in my work over the last 7 years, that the men of San Quentin have wisdom that can and will restore our planet. Emerging from the last 2 visits to The Green Life class, where Cynthia has presented the coal issue, the response from the men has been touching and heartfelt. As you will see from the following letter from Mr. Williams, lives have been awakened and they have heard the call to respond…

A salaam alaikum,

Dear Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak,

I am writing to express my concern about the proposed coal fired power plant in Sabah.

Sir, I respectfully ask that you allow your heart to hear the will of the people. On behalf of these people and animals who will be affected- I ask- I humbly ask, “Please do not allow the coal plant to be built!”

May I share a few points with you about my life? I grew up in America in a state named California. I wasted most of my life, gang banging on the streets of Lynwood. Lynwood is a small city that sits in between Compton and Watts. Growing up, I never really cared much about how the earth was being affected because I was too busy trying to survive a gang war between Crips and Bloods. I lived a bad life and was sent to prison. While in prison, I began to educate myself. I began to read. One day, I read a book by a man named, Van Jones. The book is titled, “The Green Economy.”

Having transformed my life from in prison, I was looking for a way to help others change. “The Green Economy” allowed me to see my connection to the planet and to see an alternative and inclusive method which could achieve my heart’s desire. For, even as a gang banger, I was searching for something honorable. I just chose a dishonorable and disconnected means of getting what I wanted.

From inside these walls, I have learned that I am intimately connected to all that exists. In Ignorance I hurt others and that pain was delivered to my doorstep- to my child in ways I could have never imagined.

I have learned to heed the call of knowledge and wisdom, for it was knowledge and wisdom that changed my perception of life and what I can accomplish. Perhaps you will heed the call of knowledge and wisdom in the statistics and data presented by Cynthia Ong, LEAP and the Green Surf coalition, showing the alternatives to this coal plant.


Troy “Kogen” Williams

to our friends and colleagues who work toward the restoration and sustenance of this planet we call home: whatever opportunities or connections you can provide that might be of service on behalf of this compelling and primal issue that does indeed affect us all, please let us know how, when and where we can be in contact.

for life,


Join the FB group here:
‘it ain’t green, it’s BLACK!’







A 300MW coal-fired power plant near here? You NUTS? Photo by Yee I-Lann

A 300MW coal-fired power plant near here? You NUTS? Photo by Yee I-Lann