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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31, 2015:Environmental group Naturetalksback has condemned the group of plantation workers in Sarawak for mistreating the Malaysian sun bear that wandered into the plantation. Commenting on a news report by Sarawak’s The Borneo Post, which was then shared by The Rakyat Post, the group’s Facebook page administrator Cyren Wong said the recording of the incident and the act of the plantation workers to hit the animal was in poor taste. “The workers should know better than to hit the poor animal which is our very own Malaysian sun bear that had lost its fur, either from disease or because it had been abused. “How is it that they can hit the poor animal which they deemed threatening until it passes out before chasing it away?” he asked. In the news report earlier, a group of plantation workers chanced upon the strange-looking creature after they claimed it charged at them early yesterday. Worried for their safety, they hit the animal until it passed out. After it regained consciousness, they chased it back into the woods.

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This sun bear, believed to be suffering from a skin disease and malnourishment, was beaten unconscious by plantation workers before they let it go in Sarawak. Now there is fear that it will spread its sickness to other animals.

The species of the animal was also not identified in the earlier news report as it was unclear what the animal was, due to its odd-looking characteristics. However, speaking to The Rakyat Post, Wong, who is an environmentalist, said that the animal was a sun bear, which was probably suffering from skin disease. “An animal such as the one in the video is probably suffering from some skin disease.

“By letting it go into the wild again, it might spread its disease within its species or possibly beyond as well,” he said, adding that the workers should have at least tried to detain the animal until the authorities arrived to do the necessary. According to the original report by The Borneo Post, the workers did not lodge a report with the authorities on their find. Wong said what irked him and fellow members of the group was that the animal was made out to look like a creature from an episode of X-Files.The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series that investigates marginalised and unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Wong lamented on the lack of awareness among members of the public on their local and unique species of animals. “These days, so many Malaysians are getting excited over 1,600 plastic panda bears, but our own local bear gets beaten up. “If that particular creature turned out to be a fur-less dog or cat, we can imagine the public outrage and attention that it would receive compared to this animal.” Wong added that in the future, should anyone find an animal in such a condition, they should inform wildlife officials or any non-governmental organisations related to wild animals immediately. “The animal should have been detained and the authorities should have been notified in case it was harbouring any disease that could spread or decimate the already delicate wild population.”

The Malayan sun bear relies on tropical forest habitats and deforestation is proving to be its enemy. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is one organisation that hopes to protect the future of this unique animal — the world’s smallest bear.

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