Malaysia: Pollution killing tonnes of caged fish in Kinabatangan


By , 2016;

Tonnes of caged fish were destroyed in Sabah’s interior Kinaba­tangan district, the se­cond time in less than a year.

It is believed that river pollution caused the fish to die.

The fish, reared by villagers at Kampung Mumiang in the country’s Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) were worth thousands and fed hundreds of people.

Mumiang, located in the Lower Kinaba­tangan Segama Wetlands, has no road access and is about an hour away by speedboat from Sandakan town.

The village’s Development and Security Committee head Mada Hussin said after the first incident in November last year, the authorities collected water samples and gave new fish stocks based on a subsidy mechanism to the affected villagers.

“Now, most fish from this new stock have been destroyed.

"We only managed to salvage a few of them the moment we noticed something amiss.

"We want the Government to review its policies on collecting water and other relevant samples,” he said.

He said the villagers had no choice but to continue rearing caged fish with the hope that the incident would not repeat in future.

Mada added that the investiga­ting agencies should review their Standard Operating Procedures as the delay in collecting samples did not translate into data that would be useful for mitigation or enforcement measures.

He said in the latest incident in July, some 45 families lost four tonnes of caged fish such as Grou­pers(SubF. Epinephelinae) and Snappers (F. Lutjanidae) worth thousands of ringgit.

Mada said the Malangking river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan, might be polluted with run-off from an oil palm estate, especially during a downpour.

“There is nothing we can do, for example in terms of taking legal action against those who pollute the Malangking river or other waterways, impacting our livelihoods,” Mada said.

He suggested the setting up of sampling stations to enable community wardens to collect samples more frequently, quickly and get data collected by the community to be recognised.

Reacting to what happened in Mumiang, Ramsar Community Group Project lead facilitator Ne­­ville Yapp said a key focus of the project was related to water quality.

“We have identified the setting up of four water quality monitoring units in the near future under this project,” he added.

Source: The Star

Malaysia: Pollution killing tonnes of caged fish in Kinabatangan

Malaysia: Villagers urge Govt to review sample collection policies


19th September 2016;

Having twice lost valuable caged fish within 10 months to what appears to be river pollution, a community in Malaysia’s largest Ramsar site wants the government to review its policies on collecting water and other relevant samples.

One recommendation is for agencies entrusted with investigating such cases to relook at their standard operating procedures (SOP) as the delay in collecting samples does not translate into data that would be useful for mitigation or enforcement measures.

In July, Mumiang Village Development and Security Committee head, Mada Hussin had said 45 families lost four tonnes of caged fish such as Groupers (SubF. Epinephelinae) and Snappers (F. Lutjanidae) worth thousands of ringgit.

He said some caged fish were worth up to RM50 per kilogramme, a lucrative alternative economic activity for villagers who traditionally depended on catching fish but were no longer able to, due to dwindling stocks.

Mada said results of water and fish samples collected by the state fisheries department, environmental protection department and the federal Department of Environment were not shared with fishermen at Kampung Mumiang, following cases of suspected pollution last November and two months ago.

“It would be useful to hold a dialogue with the relevant agencies so that we can collaborate and look at the possibility of appointing water quality wardens from the community.

"We propose sampling stations be set up so that these community wardens can collect samples quickly. We also need to see how data collected by the community can be recognised.

"The relevant agencies must also frequently collect samples. The loss of aquatic biodiversity in the Lower Kinabatangan is an issue that impacts us and which is close to our hearts,” he said in a statement here today.

After the estimated RM100,000 losses last November, villagers received fish stocks from the government based on a subsidy mechanism and supplemented the supply by purchasing more.

“Now, most from this new stock have been destroyed. We only managed to salvage a few fish, the moment we noticed something amiss,” he said.

Mada believed the Malangking river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan was polluted with run-offs from an oil palm estate, especially when it rained heavily.

The waterway then turned light green, indicating algae-rich water which then impacted caged fish reared downstream.

Reacting to what happened in Mumiang, Ramsar Community Group Project lead facilitator Neville Yapp said a key focus of the project was related to water quality.

“We need the government to be supportive of this, including how data collected by the community can be taken as valid. We have identified the setting up of four water quality monitoring units in the near future under this project,” he said.

The Ramsar Community Group project falls under Forever Sabah, an ecology of partnerships that works to transform innovative visions for Sabah’s future into actionable solutions.

Mumiang is located in the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands, has no road access and is about an hour’s journey by speedboat from Sandakan town.

Mada said villagers had no choice but to continue rearing caged fish despite the risk of once again losing their fish in future.

“This has become a nightmare for us as there is not much else we can do here to earn a livelihood. We have families to raise and food to put on the table,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia: Villagers urge Govt to review sample collection policies

Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife Department still probing death of Sun Bear

21st January 2016;

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is still investigating the case of the dead adult Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) that was found floating in the Kinabatangan River on January 16 by a Swedish couple.

“We are currently investigating the case with the assistance of the police. No clue as yet to any suspect,” said SWD director William Baya when contacted yesterday.

It was reported that the Swedish couple, Tommy Eriksson and his wife, Teuta Hajra, captured photographs of the Bear about 6pm on Jan 16 and shared the images with Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) chief executive officer Wong Siew Te.

The lower part of a Sun Bear that was cut into half with both the hind paws missing and seen floating downstream at Kampung Sukau, close to an agriculture estate.

The Sun Bear’s carcass has been sent to the Sabah Wildlife Department for investigation.

Wong was reported as saying that the Bear was killed in cold blood and tthe act was an illegal one that should be stopped immediately.

“The Sun Bear population is already seriously threatened by the loss of the rainforest, and they have lost their habitat due to agricultural development.”

“The remaining population is very fragile and faces extinction. Sun Bears play many important roles in maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem,” Wong said.

The number of Sun Bears in Sabah’s wild is unknown.

Source: The Borneo Post

Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife Department still probing death of Sun Bear

Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife department probing deaths of Sun Bear and Sea Turtles

By Ruben Sario, 20th January 2016;

A probe is underway to find those responsible for the killings of a Bornean Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) and six Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) in separate incidents at Sabah’s east coast over the past week.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said they had begun their investigations immediately after the discovery of the carcasses of these protected animals.

“We have not identified any suspects for now,” he told The Star on Wednesday.

On Jan 18, two Swedish tourists made a gruesome discovery of the carcass of a Sun Bear cut in half in the Sungai Kinabatangan.

The tourists – Tommy Eriksson and his wife Teuta Hajra – took photos of the slaughtered animal with both its hind paws missing floating in the river near Kampung Sukau, adjacent to a plantation.

Earlier on Jan 16, visitors to Semporna spotted the decomposing carcasses of six Turtles in waters off several islands in Semporna.

Wildlife conservationists believe that the Turtles could have been killed by fishermen who discovered the marine creatures caught in their nets.

There was also a possibility that the Turtles could have been slaughtered by those seaweed farmers after catching the animals feeding on their produce.

Source: The Star

Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife department probing deaths of Sun Bear and Sea Turtles

The remains of a Sun Bear found floating by a Swedish couple while cruising along the Kinabatangan River on the evening of Jan 16.
Photo: Tommy Eriksson and Teuta Hajra

Malaysia: Still no leads on dead sun bear found in Kinabatangan River
By Sandra Sokial, 20th January 2016;

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is still clueless over the dead adult Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) found floating in the Kinabatangan River by two Swedish tourists last week.

Disclosing that the department was still investigating, SWD director William Baya said they were trying to get to the bottom of the case with the help of police.

“We have no clues or any suspects yet,” he said when contacted.

In earlier reports, Swedish couple, Tommy Eriksson and wife, Teuta Hajra, photographed the floating carcass about 6pm on Jan 16 and shared the images with the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) chief executive officer Wong Siew Te.

The carcass, which appeared to be the lower part of a Sun Bear that had been cut into half with both the hind paws missing, was sent to the SWD for investigation.

“The Bear was killed in cold blood, and the act is illegal and should be stopped immediately,” said Wong.

He added that the Sun Bear population was already seriously threatened by the loss of the rainforest and they had lost their habitat due to opening of land for agriculture.

Wong noted that the remaining population was very fragile and faced extinction.

“Sun Bears play many important roles in maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem,” said Wong.

Source: The Rakyat Post

Malaysia: Superstitious beliefs behind killing of sun bear?

20th January 2016;

Superstitious beliefs among Sabahans that the bile from a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) could help restore consciousness to an unconscious person could be the reason behind the killing of the sun bear at Sukau, Kinabatangan.

Kepayan Assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi said it is clear by the way the carcass was found that the culprit was only interested in harvesting its gallbladder.

The bile, some believe, can snap one out of unconsciousness, such as one who is unconscious due to an accident, just by placing the bile on his or her tongue. The limbs of the Sun Bear are usually dried and kept as souvenir items unlike the palms of Monkeys and Apes which are used to cure ailments related to the respiratory system.

“As a wildlife veterinarian and consultant, I am very sad to learn of this brutal killing of a beautiful animal,” he said.

He said because of these beliefs in the animals’ medicinal value, they become victims of poachers. Sun Bear gallbladder fetches a high price.

“People have even asked me for animal parts during my time at the Sepilok Wildlife Clinic,” he said.

Bosi said he is not trying to promote more poaching by telling the public about the uses and monetary value of Sun Bear gallbladders or Monkey palms but as a reminder to the government and the public that poaching against these animals would continue as long as there is demand for their parts.

“It is our duty to counter these perceptions and follow up with strong enforcement,” he said, adding that he hoped that the Sun Bear is not the one that was reportedly released to the wild from a mini zoo in Tawau.

“I heard about the incident in the Tawau mini zoo some months ago and it is a subject of discussion among conservationists around the world. I think Sabah is getting famous for all the wrong reasons.

"The extinction of the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) during our time, killings of Pygmy Elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis), heavy poaching activities, smuggling of wildlife and the reported poor management of animals in the zoos are not good for Sabah who had spent so much effort and money to promote eco-tourism,” he said.

Speaking through experience, Bosi said it is not an easy task to rehabilitate Sun Bears back to the wild as even wild Bears came to steal from human tents in the wild. The notion that these animals are afraid of human, he said is quite true because they would quickly disappear when they see humans in the woods.

However, he said, it would be totally different when they have been habituated to humans under long term captivity.

“I have assisted in tranquilising a Sun Bear at one of the resorts in Sepilok. The animal was kept as a pet from young and deemed so playful and friendly by the owner. Then one day it escaped from its cage and the owner tried to put it back into the cage only to be mauled in his thigh.

"A Sun Bear is always a wild animal. It is never a good choice to confine them in cages or in captivity.

However,Sun Bear-human conflict can and will happen once its habitat is diminished,” he said.

Last Saturday, a Swedish couple captured photos of the carcass of an adult Sun Bear floating in the Kinabatangan River while on a cruise to spot wildlife.

They shared the images with the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) Chief Executive Officer Wong Siew Te.

The carcass they saw was the lower part of a Sun Bear that was cut into half with both its hind paws missing.

It was seen floating downstream at Kampung Sukau, close to an agriculture estate.

The Sun Bear’s carcass was recovered later in the night with the help of Kinabatangan–Corridor of Life Tourism Association (KiTA) members and sent to the Sabah Wildlife Department for investigation.

In a joint statement issued by the department and the BSBCC, Wong said the Bear was killed in cold blood and that the act was an illegal one that should be stopped immediately.

There are no estimates on the number of Sun Bears in Sabah’s wild, and those that are found orphaned or caged as part of the pet trade are usually sent to the BSBCC for rehabilitation.

Source: Daily Express

Malaysia: Superstitious beliefs behind killing of sun bear?

A bear-y sad sight: The Sun Bear carcass which was found in Sungai Kinabatangan in Sandakan.

Malaysia: Tourists find slaughtered Sun Bear
19th January 2016;

Two Swedish tourists made a gruesome discovery of a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) carcass cut in half in Sungai Kinabatangan while cruising along the river to view Sabah’s diverse wildlife.

Tommy Eriksson and his wife Teuta Hajra took photos of the slaughtered animal at about 6pm on Jan 16 and shared the pictures with Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) chief executive Wong Siew Te on Monday.

Wong said the couple spotted the Sun Bear carcass floating in the river near Kampung Sukau, near a plantation. Both its hind paws were missing.

Eriksson told Wong that his wife was the first to spot the carcass floating in the river, and only realised what it was when they got closer.

The couple became angry after seeing the slaughtered animal and their immediate suspicion was that it was a victim of poaching.

The carcass was recovered later with the help of Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Tourism Association members and sent to the Sabah Wildlife Department for investigation.

Wong said the Bear was killed in cold blood and that the act was an illegal one, adding that such practices should be stopped immediately.

Source: The Star