KOTA KINABALU: Two Swedish tourists made a gruesome discovery of a floating carcass of a sun bear while on a river cruise along Sungai Kinabatangan to view Sabah’s diverse wildlife.
The tourists - Tommy Eriksson and his wife Teuta Hajra - took photos of the slaughtered animal at about 6pm on Jan 16 and shared the pictures with Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) chief executive Wong Siew Te on Monday.
Wong said the couple spotted the carcass, which was the lower part of the sun bear with both its hind paws missing, floating in the river near a plantation near Kampung Sukau.
Eriksson told Wong that his wife was the first to spot the carcass in the river and when they got closer to it, they realised that it was actually a sun bear carcass cut in half.
The couple also told Wong how angry and upset they became after seeing the carcass and their immediate suspicion was that it had been a victim of poachers.
The carcass was recovered just hours later with the help of Kinabatangan – Corridor of Life Tourism Association (KiTA) members and sent to the Sabah Wildlife Department for investigation.
Wong said the bear was killed in cold blood and such illegal acts should be stopped immediately.
“The sun bear population is already under serious threat from loss of the rainforest, and losing their habitat due to agricultural development,” he added.
“The remaining population is very fragile and prone to local extinction. Sun bears play many important roles in maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem,” he said.
“The loss of this sun bear is very bad for the remaining forests,” Wong added.
There are no estimates on the exact number of sun bears in Sabah’s wild and those that are found orphaned or caged as part of the wildlife trade are usually sent to BSBCC for rehabilitation.