Sabah Wildlife Department personnel has recaptured a female sun bear yesterday which recently escaped from an illegal captivity here. Its director Augustine Tuuga said the one-year-old bear escaped from its owner's house at Kg Pangkalan Abai last Thursday. (File pix)

KOTA BELUD: Sabah Wildlife Department personnel has recaptured a female sun bear yesterday which recently escaped from an illegal captivity here.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said the one-year-old bear escaped from its owner's house at Kg Pangkalan Abai last Thursday.

"The department was alerted by the public on Friday afternoon about the incident.

"A team was despatched to locate the bear on Saturday morning and after much effort, the sun bear was finally recaptured by darting it with tranquiliser," he said in a statement, adding the totally protected species was now kept at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

Augustine added that the 37-year-old owner, who was later detained, had been keeping the sun bear in a metal cage behind his house for more than a year.

The man claimed he obtained the animal from a friend in Keningau when it was still a cub.

Illegal possession of the species is an offence under Section 41 of Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) Enactment 2016.

The owner, he said, is likely to face charges but investigation is still ongoing.

Augustine advised the public not to keep protected species as pets as they could turn aggresive if taken outside of their natural habitat.