• Joshua Prieto

Star of the Show-Micah the Sun Bear

A close-up photograph of Micah the Sun Bear at the Wildlife Alliance Wildlife Release Station ecotourism experience

Photographed with Canon 6D Mark II and Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 VC USD macro lens 1/1250s @ f/3.5, ISO 1600 With this focal length and wide aperture I was able to effectively shoot through the fence and without changing the perspective immensely like if I'd use a longer telephoto lens.

Micah the Sun Bear was one of the most exciting wildlife encounters during my second stay at the Wildlife Alliance-managed Wildlife Release Station in the Cardamom Mountain rainforest of Cambodia's Koh Kong Province. Bears are incredibly curious animals and this made for some awesome photo opportunities.

This species is listed as Threatened on the IUCN's Red List, primarily due to habitat loss and poaching. Frighteningly, these bears are sometimes poached specifically for the harvesting of their gallbladders, which is used in traditional medicines. Conservation groups such as Wildlife Alliance and numerous governments have put measures to protect the bears and their habitats in place.

Micah was rescued from poachers and later taken to the Wildlife Release Station in preparation for his release. Placed inside a large pre-release enclosure, he will be given supplementary food after the gate is opened.

When I photographed Micah in June of 2019, he enjoyed a variety of fruits and insects. The dedicated keepers ensured he had interaction and exercise but also made sure he'd be prepared for a more solitary life upon his release.

I strongly recommend the Wildlife Release Station stay experience operated by Wildlife Alliance in the lush Cardamom rainforest, but be prepared for the heat and insects!

Sun Bear peering through the rainforest undergrowth

Photographed with Canon 6D Mark II and Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 VC USD macro lens

1/640s @ f/3.5, ISO 1600 The guilty look on this gorgeous bear's face gets me every time!

Sun Bear walking towards the camera in its pre-release enclosure in the rainforest

Photographed with Canon 6D Mark II and Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 VC USD macro lens

1/800s @ f/3.2, ISO 1250 The massive pre-release enclosure allowed Micah to behave naturally in an area that would soon become his forever home, well away from poachers and loggers. Their magnificent claws help them climb high up into the canopy with ease.

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