Bear intrudes village in northeast Thailand

A sun bear wandered out of the forest and into a village in Chaiyaphum province in northeast Thailand yesterday. It took rescue workers five hours to trap the wild animal.

Atnoonm, residents of Ban Huai Ruam village in Moo 2, Wang Thong subdistrict, Phakdi Chumphon district reported that a sun bear (“bear-dog” in Thai language) had strayed out of the Phaya Fo Mountain Range and into the community.

Officials from the Phakdi Chumphon Wildlife Sanctuary and volunteers from the Hook 31 Rescue Foundation hurried to the scene with bear-catching equipment.

Volunteers found the sun bear hiding in the undergrowth of a dried-up pond, only 50 metres away from people’s houses, reports BangkokBizNews.

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March is the hottest month of the year so food and water in the forest are scarce. Villagers suspect the bear went to the pond looking for water, but it dried up last year, said the villagers.

Villagers were scared that the bear could get aggressive out of hunger and attack, but a video shows the furry animal calmly sitting in the bushes.

More than 30 villagers watched in anticipation as volunteers tried to lure the sun bear into the cage. After five hours, the rescue workers managed to lasso a rope around the bear’s neck and lead it into the cage, prompting cheering from onlookers.

Wildlife officials said the bear is a female and weighs around 80 kilogrammes.

Once the bear was safely locked up in the cage, villagers fed it bananas through the bars before putting it on the back of a pickup truck and taking it back home to the Phaya Fo mountains.

The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear species and can be found in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand. In Thailand, sun bears are primarily found in the forests of the southern and northeastern parts of the kingdom.

Sun bears are known for their distinctive markings, which include a black coat with a yellowish or orange patch on their chest that resembles the rising sun. They have strong, curved claws that help them climb trees to find food, such as honey, insects, fruit, and small animals.

Sun bears in Thailand face several threats, including habitat loss due to deforestation and illegal hunting for their meat and body parts (such as gallbladders and claws).

Being shy and reclusive animals, sun bears irregularly attack humans unless provoked, or if they are injured or with their cubs. Their timid nature has led these bears to be tamed as pets – another illegal activity threatening the species.

Sun bears are therefore classified as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

They might be the smallest species of bear, but Sun bears still present a danger to humans if they are acting aggressively. They are strong, have sharp claws and can run faster than any human. Unlike other bear species, sun bears do not hibernate.

Two weeks ago, two Asian black bear cubs were seized from a wildlife trafficker in northern Thailand.

Northern Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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