After a “tense” meeting with a military commander on Wednesday, an endangered sun bear cub was rescued from a military base in Preah Vihear province before it could be sold for an estimated US$1,000.
The 10-kilogram cub was found at a base near Preah Vihear temple in Choam Khsan district, in the possession of a soldier who was trying to sell it, likely to a bear farm in Vietnam.
Wildlife Alliance worked with Forestry Administration officials to gain access to the military base after receiving information that a captive bear cub was for sale.
Forestry officials and members of the team “first went to speak to the regional military commander, who then aided the team in raising awareness about the law [among soldiers”, said program manager at Wildlife Alliance Lesley Perlman yesterday.
Wildlife Alliance described the meeting with the unnamed military commander as “tense”, but said that following the meeting the commander helped raise awareness of laws governing endangered species among solidiers.
“As the soldier voluntarily handed over the bear, no charges were filed,” Perlman said.
The bear is being transferred to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre and Perlman said greater effort was needed in Cambodia and regionally to protect endangered species.
“In Cambodia, stronger law enforcement is needed to combat the illegal trade in wildlife on the ground,” she said. Regionally, “both demand and supply side efforts are needed”, she said.
Sun bears are sold as pets or used in Chinese traditional medicine, which highly values their paws and gall bladder bile.
A rapid response team working in Cambodia confiscates about 10 live Malayan sun and Asiatic Black bears a year, Perlman said.