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Disorderly bear discharged

Border soldiers teach a pet sun bear tricks in Preah Vihear province
Border soldiers teach a pet sun bear tricks in Preah Vihear province in 2012. The bear was placed under the care of Wildlife Alliance and relocated to Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo supplied

Preah Vihear border soldiers have turned over a male sun bear they raised as a pet to Wildlife Alliance after the bear became uncontrollable.

Forestry administrator Prom Nol, working with Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT), said border soldiers in Preah Vihear’s Choam Ksan district gave the bear – not quite two years old – to his team yesterday. He believed it would arrive at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in Takeo last night, he said.

“When it grew bigger, it turned mean and scratched anyone,” Nol said. “It often stole eggs from nearby villagers to eat, so it was given to us.”

Nol added that the bear was not caged but allowed to roam the garrison and surrounding neighbourhood. The bear was caught in Preah Vihear forest more than a year ago and has been raised by soldiers as a pet.

Since 2002, more than 60 bears nationwide have been handed over to WRRT.

Chuon Vuthy, project manager for Free the Bears at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, said Cambodian bears are illegally traded to other countries for $200 to $500 per bear. Although the trade is illegal, he added, people buy bears from traffickers and raise them for pleasure.

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