Montom the Bornean Sun Bear. Photo: BSBCC website

Bornean Sun Bear rehabilitation

SANDAKAN: Returning back to the wild is the current phase for Montom, a six-year-old male Bornean Sun Bear that has been rehabilitated here at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre and now ready to embrace his path as a sun bear.

Through the collaboration between the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Montom’s release was the eighth rehabilitated sun bear to return back into the wild after five years of rehabilitation at the 12-year-old centre.

In a joint statement here yesterday, BSBCC and SWD said that the release of Montom, the six-year-old male, was successfully carried out on July 10 at 6.18am.

“Montom’s movement will continue to be monitored on a regular basis through a global positioning system (GPS) collar fitted on the bear,” said the statement.

Also a part of the release effort was forestry management and advisory service provider Forest Solutions Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Montom arrived at BSBCC for rehabilitation after it was surrendered by a villager who saved it at Kampung Melangkap, Kota Marudu on Jan 21, 2015.

“Throughout his rehabilitation process at BSBCC, Montom had adapted well towards the natural forest surrounding offered at the centre.

“Apart from being excellent in climbing trees, it was also at its best at foraging around the forest enclosure,” BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Dr Wong Siew Te, who led the bear’s release operation, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Wong also expressed hope that the sun bear could now live freely like a wild bear and propagate the sun bear population in Sabah despite ‘poaching still being a big threat to the survival of sun bears in the wild.’

“Sun bears have a very slow reproduction rate. They cannot withstand any level of poaching and other human-caused mortality such as habitat loss, keeping sun bears as pets and use bear body parts as traditional medicine,” he said.

Wong said BSBCC’s facility currently houses 42 rescued sun bears and is expecting to release several more sun bears in the near future.

Meanwhile, SWD said its joint effort with BSBCC throughout the centre’s 12 years in operation, had successfully eliminated the illegal possession of sun bears as pets in Sabah.

SWD also urged the public to report to the department of any illegal poaching, selling, consumption and possession of Totally Protected Species like sun bears. – Bernama