Malaysiakini Letter

‘Sun bears abandoned by Sarawak gov’t’

Jennifer Yeap  |  Published:  |  Modified:

In 2015 Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem declared himself an “amateur naturalist”, a fan of David Attenborough and that he is very concerned about the state of “orangutans and other mammals in Borneo”. Sounding concerned about wildlife matters animal lovers hoped that the poor condition of wildlife management and treatment in Sarawak would improve greatly.

Over a month ago Malaysian Friends of the Animals (MFOTA) revealed the sickening conditions four sun bears are forced to live in at the Miri Crocodile Farm (MCF). The bears are kept in appalling conditions at MCF, living in dungeon like concrete enclosures resembling a 19th century zoo.

They are not given enrichment and are left to pace back and forth in the enclosure day and night. As a result of extremely heart-breaking treatment of the bears all are now showing signs of psychological trauma.

MFOTA has repeatedly exposed the sorry plight of the sun bears for weeks and till today the bears are still rotting away at MCF and there is no indication they will be transferred to the Matang Wildlife Sanctuary, managed by the Sarawak Forestry Department (SFD). Ironically it was the SFD which allowed MCF to house sun bears by providing them a licence. Is this the reason the bears are left to suffer at MCF?

The Sarawak chief minister has also been exposed to the barbaric cruelty towards the bears but MFOTA has seen no sign of the chief minister intervening to help save the bears by ordering the bears to be rehomed at Matang urgently. How can the chief minister of a state who had expressed his concern for wildlife leave the sun bears to wither and die? We again urge Adenan to help rehome all bears to Matang.

It is shameful that a Totally Protected species like sun bears are suffering at a crocodile farm. Sun bears are sensitive animals and when treated poorly in captivity they suffer greatly. Sadly, aside from the sun bears animals like horses, macaques and majestic birds endemic to Sarawak are in urgent need of help at MCF. Getting the sun bears out of MCF would be a great start.

A lot has been said about how Sarawak’s management of the environment and wildlife would change after Adenan came to power. The continued abusive treatment of the sun bears at MCF not only brings shame to Sarawak but questions the chief minister and local government’s commitment to protecting wildlife.

JENNIFER YEAP is with Malaysian Friends of the Animals (MFOTA).

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