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A wild sun bear in a protected area in Sabah. NSTP/COURTESY DANAU GIRANG FIELD CENTRE.
A wild sun bear in a protected area in Sabah. NSTP/COURTESY DANAU GIRANG FIELD CENTRE.

KOTA KINABALU: An action plan for sun bear conservation in Sabah will be submitted to the state government soon.

The action plan was formulated by a group of like-minded people made up of scientists, civil servants and non governmental organisation members here, during a two-day technical working group meeting since Monday.

The Technical Working Group Meeting on the Sun Bear Action Plan came barely a few months after three other plans - for the proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng - were approved by the state government.

The organisations that contributed to the meeting were Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Foundation, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF), TRAFFIC, Animals Asia, Free the Bears and Sunway University.

The meeting also served as a prelude to the 2nd International Symposium on Sun Bear Conservation and Management which starts tomorrow here, jointly organised by the state wildlife department, DGFC and BSBCC.

Experts from the region will present updates on sun bear population status in the different species range countries such as Cambodia, India, Indonesia (Sumatra and Kalimantan), Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia.

BSBCC chief executive officer Dr Wong Side Te said several open forums would serve as a platform to discuss some critical issues on sun bear conservation such as poaching and trade; sun bear release, translocation and monitoring; sun bear captive breeding; implementation of Global Status Review and Sun Bear Conservation Action Plan; and ex-situ research prioritisation.

“On the second day of symposium, we will present to the different stakeholders the several recommendations for inclusion in the Sun Bear Action Plan for Sabah,” added Wong.

DGFC director Prof Benoit Goossens expressed hope the gathering would come up with a long-term vision for the future of the sun bears in the wild in Sabah.

“Uncontrolled hunting of sun bears for traditional chinese medicine, pet trade, and habitat loss and fragmentation are considered to be the major threats to the survival of the sun bear in the state,” he added.

“It is therefore critical to increase effectiveness of enforcement on the ground, improve the intelligence of the different government departments, and establish connectivity between sun bear populations in the state.”

For the past year, the state wildlife department has worked with its partners to produce conservation action plans for most of the Schedule 1’s (totally protected) terrestrial species.

Last May, the state cabinet adopted the proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng action plans 2019-2028.

The Elephant Action Plan and Orangutan Action Plan 2020-2029 are being finalised, and focus is now on producing the Sun Bear Action Plan 2020-2029.

“It is crucial that those three new plans are adopted and implemented by the Sabah state government as they are backed by scientific research and expert opinions, as well as input from industry leaders and several government departments," Goossens said.

keywords: action plan, sun bear, Sabah, conservation, Sabah Wildlife Department, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

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