JOHOR BARU - A sun bear, caged up and its paws destined to end up in soup, got a new lease of life when it was rescued by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
"Our officers from Johor and Kuala Lumpur conducted a week-long stakeout of a shop lot before moving in to rescue the bear on Tuesday," said state Perhilitan director Hasnan Yusop.
The shop lot was along Susur 4, Jalan Tun Razak here. Five men were arrested to assist in investigations.
"After rescuing the animal, our specialist examined the bear and found it to be healthy," he said.
The sun bear is under rehabilitation and will be eventually released into the wild.
"The animal is a protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, but is usually sold to restaurants who make soup from its paws.
"Checks revealed that a small bowl of bear paw soup could be sold between RM400 (S$155) and RM900," he said.
The case would be investigated under Section 68(1)(a) of the Act.
If found guilty, the persons involved could be fined up to RM100,000, or jailed up to three years, or both, if found guilty.
Hasnan urged anyone with information on poachers or illegal selling or keeping of wildlife to contact Johor Perhilitan at 07-223-0580.
Johor Malaysia Nature Society chairman Vincent Chow said more should be done to permanently shut down businesses selling such exotic meat.
He also urged the authorities to investigate cases where orang asli were used to hunt protected animals.
"According to our current laws, it is not an offence for the orang asli to capture any kind of wildlife for food, but this is being abused by poachers and those involved in the wildlife trade," he said.