KOTA KINABALU: Montom, the eighth rehabilitated sun bear from the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), has been released back into the wild after five years.
The operation to release the six-year-old male bear was jointly carried out recently by the Sabah Wildlife Department, BSBCC and Forest Solutions Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
In a joint statement, the group said Montom was given a final medical check-up before it was taken on a 12-hour land journey to an undisclosed location in northern Sabah.
Its movement will continue to be monitored on a regular basis through a GPS collar fitted on him.
Montom was rescued from a villager in Kampung Melangkap, Kota Marudu, on Jan 18,2015 by the Sabah Wildlife Department and was sent to the BSBCC three days later.
The villager said he had kept the baby bear as a pet after his dog chased away the mother and left him behind.
BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Dr Wong Siew Te noted that throughout its rehabilitation process, Montom adapted well to the natural forest surroundings at the centre.
He said that apart from being excellent in climbing trees, Montom was also at its best when foraging around the forest enclosure.
Dr Wong, who led the release operation, hopes Montom can now live freely like a wild bear and propagate the sun bear population in Sabah.
“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, ” he said, explaining why they did not want to disclose the area it was released.
After 12 years, the Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC have successfully stopped sun bears from being kept as pets in the state.
The BSBCC’s facility houses 42 rescued sun bears and it expects to release several more in the near future.