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Woman fined RM15,000 for keeping a Sun Bear
Published on: Tuesday, July 20, 2021
By: Jo Ann Mool
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The sun bear which was confiscated from Cheryline.
Kota Kinabalu: A 48-year-old woman who kept a live Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus), a totally protected animal, for four years was on Monday fined RM15,000 or four months jail for failing to hand over the animal to the authority two years ago.

Cheryline William Muyuk (pic) pleaded guilty before Sessions Court Judge Elsie Primus to failing to hand over the endangered animal to the nearest enforcement officer at 12.55pm on Sept. 13, 2019 at a private house at Kg Taginambur, Jalan Kota Belud-Ranau in Kota Belud. 

She paid the fine. Sun bears are a ‘Totally Protected’ species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997.

“Since you have kept this sun bear since 2015 to 2019 and it had been locked up for four years without being handed to the authority, the court sentence you to a fine of RM15,000 in default four months jail,” said Elsie. 

Prosecuting officer from the Wildlife Department Abdul Karim Dakog in presenting the facts of the case said the enforcement team had conducted a search at the said house following a tip off.

The team found a live sun bear which was locked in an iron cage near the kitchen door at the back of the house.

The animal was confiscated because Cheryline failed to show a valid ownership document under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. 

Cheryline, who was not represented, told the court that she had no intention of keeping the sun bear but late to take action to return it to the authorities due to being busy.

“I tried to protect the bear from being sold to someone else, because according to the person who sent the bear to my place, the person wanted to send it somewhere else. I just want to protect it from harm.

“What happened was indeed my fault…for delaying to send it to the authority due to being busy managing my children and my mother at the time,” said Cheryline.

She said she went to the Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) with the intention of returning it to the authority because in the beginning I thought of returning it myself to the forest but I thought it was not safe,” she added.

She claimed that one Dr Wong at the BSBCC advised her to write to Wildlife and that they would arrange to hand over the bear.

To a question by the court, Cheryline said the bear had been with her for four years from 2015 to 2019 and was confined in a cage.

Cheryline requested for a lenient sentence saying it was her first offence, was unemployed as only her husband works and had three school going children.

Abdul Karim submitted that sun bears are totally protected and endangered.

He pressed for a deterrent sentence on the grounds that the offence committed was serious, involved public interest and as a lesson to others.

Abdul Karim informed the court that the sun bear is now under the care of Wildlife.

Cheryline had committed an offence under Section 40 (2) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 which is punishable under Section 40(3) of the same Enactment that carries a fine of up to RM50,000 or up to two years jail or both on conviction.

 



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