Sun bears – the world’s smallest species of bear, are at risk of extinction with habitat loss and illegal hunting to blame.
Organisation “Free the Bears”, 30 kilometres southeast of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is hoping to combat this and currently has the world’s largest population of sun bears in captivity.
The animals are hunted for their fur and bile which are popular in Chinese medicine while their meat and paws are used to make Bear Paw Soup, a delicacy in much of Asia. Experts estimate that sun bears have declined by at least 30 per cent in the past 30 years – their numbers continue to drop.
Elephants are also under threat in Cambodia. The Asian elephant population living in the wild in the country has fallen dramatically from about 2,000 in 1995 to fewer than 400 today.
In the past hunting was the elephant’s biggest worry but today habitat destruction is the main threat to their survival.
With the human population rising and forested areas shrinking it is likely that wild Asian elephant numbers will continue to decrease in the foreseeable future.