Malaysia: Sun bear back in its natural habitat

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 31 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A rescued orphaned female sun bear named Lawa is now back in the wild as conservationists called for more efforts made to protect this endangered species.

Lawa, which is about eight years old, was released back into its natural habitat in the rainforest of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said it was another proud step in animal conservation efforts.

He said Lawa, fitted with a satellite collar, was flown from its centre in Sepilok to the wildlife reserve on Thursday.

“After veterinarian Dr Rosa Sipangkui made a final check on Lawa, she was let out of the cage and back into the wild.

“She was brought in to the centre as a cub back in 2008,” he said, adding that they had been preparing the bear for its return to the wild.

Wong said Lawa had undergone rehabilitation training for eight years, learning all essential skills to survive in the wild such as nest-building, foraging and looking for food.

“The training was made possible in the state-of-the-art natural forest enclosure at our centre,” he said.

Wong said the cost involved was around RM50,000, including the satellite collar and air transport.

“We need public donations to continue with our efforts,” he said, adding that they had some 40 sun bears at the centre and it cost about RM80,000 a month to maintain them.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya commended the latest effort of the centre and hoped more sun bears could be released back into the wild.

Sun bears are protected by law in Sabah under the Wildlife Conserva­tion Enactment 1997.

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