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Eighth rehabilitated sun bear released into the wild

14th July, 2020

SANDAKAN: Montom, the eighth rehabilitated sun bear at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) has been released back into the wild after five years of rehabilitation.

The release operation carried out on 10th July 2020 was a joint effort between Sabah Wildlife Department, BSBCC and Forest Solutions Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

Prior to the release of the 6-year-old male sun bear, a final medical check-up was conducted by the BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department team at their facility in Sandakan, Sabah.

The team arrived at the release site at the northern part of Sabah at 5am and successfully released Montom at 6.18am. Montom’s movement will continue to be monitored on a regular basis through a GPS collar fitted on it.

Montom arrived at BSBCC from Kampung Melangkap, Kota Marudu on 21st January 2015. According to his ex-owner, his dog chased away Montom’s mother and left baby Montom behind, which led him to keep Montom as a pet.

Montom was then surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit after being kept for a year.

Throughout the rehabilitation process at BSBCC, Montom has been adapting well towards the natural forest surrounding at the Centre. Apart from being excellent in climbing trees, it was also at its best in foraging around the forest enclosure.

Wong Siew Te, the founder and chief executive officer of BSBCC who led the release operation said it was a success thanks to the help from Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, Forest Solution Malaysia and good weather on the 12 hours of road trip to reach the release site.

“We hope Montom can now live freely like a wild bear and propagate the sun bear population in Sabah.”

Wong hesitated to disclose the information on the release site as “poaching is still 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 and keeping sun bears as pets and using bear body parts as traditional medicine,” he said.

After 12 years in operation, Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC have successfully prevented sun bears from being kept as illegal pets in Sabah. Sabah Wildlife Department urges the public to report to the department if they come across any illegal poaching, selling, consuming, and keeping of Totally Protected Species like sun bears.

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

“Thanks to great efforts from Sabah Wildlife Department in rescuing captive sun bears throughout Sabah, bears like Montom get a second chance of life as sun bears in the wild,” Wong concluded.

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