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Free the Bears staff had an unexpected delivery on Monday afternoon at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia. Driving 400km from his village, the Deputy Governor of the Mondulkiri Province, Mr Yim Lux, arrived with the latest victim of the illegal wildlife trade - a female Sun bear cub weighing just 3.7 kgs.  

Cambodia Programme Manager, Choun Vuthy, describes the good intentions of the rescuer who purchased the cub from villagers.

“Caught by poachers in a local village, the Sun bear was offered up for sale to the Deputy Governor. The reasons he gave for purchasing the cub was that he thought if he didn’t buy it, it would be sold to a restaurant for consumption. Instead, he thought he’d purchase it to save its life and bring it to the rescue centre he’d heard about in Phnom Tamao.”

Free the Bears Chief Executive Matt Hunt says that it’s a common mistake made by people to purchase a wild animal that has fallen victim to the illegal wildlife trade. 

“While her rescuer may have meant well, this isn’t the best course of action. Although this cub was saved from an unknown fate, by buying the cub the incentive to hunt more bear cubs has grown stronger in Mondulkiri. We have to be very mindful that we are not perpetuating the demand for poaching from the wild. The mother bear would almost certainly have been killed in order to obtain the cub. We strongly encourage anybody who is offered wildlife or sees wild animals for sale to contact local Police or the Forestry Administration. Cambodia even has a dedicated Wildlife Rescue Hotline for members of the public to report wildlife crime so that incidents such as this can be dealt with by the relevant authorities.”


Now safely in the hands of Kem Sunheng, Supervisor of Free the Bears Cub Nursery, the tiny little bundle of black glossy fur, estimated to be just over 2 months old, has still got a long road ahead. When she arrived the cub was very stressed and unsettled - behaviour that is to be expected from a wild animal that would naturally stay with its mother for at least 18 months in the wild. She’ll require bottle-feeding with a special milk formula every four hours and will have a small team of carers assigned as surrogate parents, giving her around-the-clock care for several months.


This new arrival is the second cub to be admitted to Free the Bears Cub Nursery this year, with numbers expected to increase in the second half of the year. This cub is the 187th bear to be rescued by Free the Bears since they started collaborating with the Cambodian Forestry Administration in 1997, with an average of 10-12 bears rescued each year. 

Support is needed to continue to provide for the tiniest victims of the illegal wildlife trade by donating or buying a Cub Care Kit from Free the Bears Virtual Gift Range. Click here to make your purchase and help to save a little life.

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