Threats facing the sun bear
The Malayan sun bear has been protected in Indonesia since 1973 but this has done little to protect the species. The greatest threats to sun bear survival in Indonesia are:
1. Habitat Destruction: Orangutans and sun bears share the same greatest threat – loss of habitat through unsustainable logging practices, forest fires and clearing of the land for palm oil. As sun bears lose their habitat, they begin to encroach on agricultural plantations in search of food where they are then persecuted by local communities.
2. Commercial hunting: Hunting supplies both the illegal pet trade and possibly the bush meat trade. Mothers are killed and cubs are taken to be kept as pets but end up at rehabilitation centres when they outgrow their cages and are no longer considered to be cute and cuddly. While more prevalent in other areas of South East Asia, it is likely that sun bear meat is also consumed in Borneo.
In other areas of South East Asia, sun bears also are in demand for use in Traditional Chinese medicine. Bear bile has been used for thousands of years to cure a range of ailments from fevers to liver disease. Bears are either killed for their gall bladder or kept in "farms" where steel catheters are inserted into their gall bladder to extract bile.
BOS Sun Bear Sanctuary
Sun Bear Facts
Photo: Karen Stenner