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Sun bears missing, Sabah Wildlife Dept suspiciously silent

December 23, 2015

Were sun bears sold, released to certain death in the wild or did they die of neglect in captivity?



From: Sean Whyte and Jennifer Yeap

It’s been a week since two sun bears went missing from the Hot Spring’s resort in Tawau, Sabah.

Suspicion was first aroused when the owners claimed to have a sudden change of heart and instead of attempting to defend the cruelty they inflicted on the bears, they released them back to the forest – or so the management claimed.

How the bears were obtained in the first place has never been satisfactorily explained. Even more mystifying was why the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) resisted all appeals to confiscate the bears even though they could clearly see the cruelty involved.

Time and again we have seen SWD and its Minister Masidi Manjun preside over animal cruelty and slaughter, without ever prosecuting anyone.

You recall all those pygmy elephants that were poisoned by big business don’t you? Did you ever hear of or see anyone punished for that despicable crime? It took an eternity for SWD to investigate and come to the conclusion no one would be arrested.

Do we now have a similar pattern developing with regard to the missing bears? SWD has had a week to prove or disprove the owner’s claims and still we are no nearer to finding out the truth. With the holiday season upon us, could SWD be hoping we will forget about the bears? We won’t.

SWD has declined to reply to emails from concerned people. That’s not unusual for SWD and Masidi Manjun. Don’t these government people realise that silence only encourages suspicion?

In the unlikely event the bears were released to a certain death in the forest (they could not possibly survive without a long period of rehabilitation) the management of the Hot Springs will have broken the law.

If the statement released by the management of Hot Springs is proved to be true, they clearly have a case to answer in court, don’t they?

If the statement is false and as many suspect, the bears either died of neglect in captivity or have been sold, they clearly also have a case to answer in court, don’t they?

Let’s wait and see. Hopefully this is a cut and dry case the SWD and Masidi Manjun won’t talk themselves out of prosecuting.

Protecting wildlife and enforcing the law have always appeared to be secondary to protecting big business in Sabah. Will it ever be any different?

Sean Whyte is CEO of Nature Alert and Jennifer Yeap is with the Malaysian Friends of the Animals.

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