Kenny Peavy, the founder of Earth Matter Institute and the author of the book "As if Earth Matter", is helping BSBCC to organize a fund raiser Rockin' 4 the Environment-SUN BEAR ROCK.
Below is his message to everyone, in the hope that this fund raiser will be a success to help sun bears!
This past weekend found me at the Global Issues Network Indonesia (GINdo) where I presented a workshop on an upcoming event:
Rockin' 4 the Environment- SUN BEAR ROCK!- an arts and cultural festival to raise awareness and inspire action for conservation in SE Asia.
In the past we have been very successful with Turtle Rock! (for endangered sea turtles), Tiger Rock!, Orang Utan Rock! and Dugong Rock! by raising over US$20,000 in total for conservation in Malaysia.
Now we would like to expand and invite YOU to PARTICIPATE! We are now launching this initiative to a wider audience and the GINdo presentation was the FIRST time it was made public...
So far, teachers and students at the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISK) and Jakarta International School (JIS) have made a commitment and pledge to be involved and participate!!!
How you can be involved:
GO to our FACEBOOK Page and LIKE US and SHARE it with your students and friends!!:
This way you will receive the latest news and updates for SUN BEAR ROCK!
Plan your own Rockin' 4 the Environment Event and work with us to donate any funds raised to the group we are working with and sponsoring this year the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)
There are MANY ways to make this happen including student driven awareness campaigns and research, arts festival, music festival, flash mob, dance, join our Adopt a Sun Bear plan of action and other awareness and fundraising opportunities.
Forward this message to anyone you know that might be interested and INSPIRE THEM INTO ACTION!
The NEED: Sun Bears are an endangered species and their habitat is rapidly disappearing. There is also a lack of awareness of their plight and the need for conservation of their habitat. By taking part in SUN BEAR ROCK! you will help raise awareness and vitally important funds for the BSBCC to help protect this valuable and little known species!
FOR MORE DETAILS OR IF YOU'D LIKE TO BE A PART OF SUN BEAR ROCK! PLEASE LET US KNOW!
MANY MANY THANKS!
For more information about As if the Earth Matters see:
Earth Matters Institute on Facebook
It has been almost 4 years by now since I founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
Thanks to the helps from many, so many in fact, people and friends from across the world,the establishment of the centre has been progress slowly but surely toward its goals.
These sun bears used to be kept as pets.
These sun bears used to be kept in small cages.
But luckily they were rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
In BSBCC, we these rescued sun bears have access to the forest enclosure, good forest enclosure in fact.
Our sincere thanks to Sabah Forestry Department for giving us this piece of forest for the sun bears.
These video clips were taken today on January 14, 2012.
These are how some of our rescued sun bears live in the centre.
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By WONG Siew Te, CEO and Founder, BSBCC
Debbie the latest rescued sun bear cub was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit on Jan 6th and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre the following day. Unlike other sun bear cubs we have rescued in the past, Debbie was an aggressive and feisty little baby bear. Her aggressiveness can only mean that she was captured from the wild and keep in captivity for a relatively short period of time. She was still retained her "wildness", a skill that all wildlife must possess to survive, and not fully "domesticize". Her aggressiveness also mean that she was suffering from a lot of stress, fear to the new environment, and most of all, lost of her mother.
I went to attend the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium in Kota Kinabalu from Jan 8th to the 11th. During the three days of absence at BSBCC, I called Wai Pak on the daily basis to keep the latest update about Debbie. Because of her shyness and stress, her appetite was not as good as the rest of the rescued sun bears in the centre. Nonetheless, despite of her lack of interest to eat, she defecated normally. Normal defecation is a sign of good health - eat well, no gastrointestinal infection, and illness. Wai Pak told me that she was sleeping, more like hiding to be accurate, either in the basket or on the tree branch in her den most of the time. When the keeper and volunteers were around to clean the cage, she felt very uncomfortable, stressed, and came down to the ground and started pacing. Pacing is the most common behavior that sun bears do when they are under stress, and feel unsafe or threaten in captivity. She would bark at the keeper if they come too close from where she was. One other thing that Wai Pak told me was her eyes looked so sad. Both Wai Pak and me know what "sad eyes" mean to us after both of us taking care of many orphan sun bear cubs. They missed their mother very much, just like all of us do when we lost our mom or love ones. (sob) :(
I went back to BSBCC on the evening of 11th, day before yesterday, and saw what Wai Pak told me on the phone. Debbie was a sad orphan baby bear cub for an obvious reason. Yesterday I decided to spend some time with her. I want to teach her not to fear the new environment at BSBCC. I want her to gain trust on me and our keepers so that she feel safe and protected under our care and our presence, just like Fulung and Mary. I used a method, the only method that I used over the years to calm down a wild angry sun bear in a bear trap - honey!
Debbie responded to honey really well. Her love of honey is typical of how much sun bear resemble Winnie the Pooh bear. In fact, the Malay name of sun bear is Berung Madu, the honey bear. I first used a pole with smear of honey at one end so that the honey can reached her in her basket. She like it and licked it. I repeated this for few time. When she climbed down on the ground, I gave her the honey from the bottle at the same time calling her "Debbie Debbie my girl". After few sessions of honey exercise, I finally can called her down from her resting basket and she would licked the honey from the honey bottle and from my hand for the first time.
Today I did several sessions of calling and honey feeding. She responded really well. She moved more in her den to explore the new environment and chewed some decayed woods that we gave her. I can tell that she is much more comfortable today than yesterday. She can licked the honey from my hand without hesitation and I keep my all of my fingers and hand intact at the end of the day!
P/S: The two photos of Debbie was added on Jan 14th. Today she let me touch her little hairy hand!
The label reads, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." It worked for Paddington but can it work for the Sun Bear of Borneo?
You may not have heard of the Sun Bear. They are the smallest of all species of bear, they like to live in trees, and yes, they do eat honey. Their existence is being threatened by loss of habitat through deforestation, poaching and uses in Asian medicine. So, some people in Borneo have said enough is enough. In 2008, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) was born. In August 2012, Kevin Albin who runs a trekking and expedition company, Let Loose with Adventure, will be leading a group to work at the Centre to continue this work.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was created by a group of people who wanted to help the bears including Siew Te Wong who has been studying them for a number of years. The Centre aims to provide care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears as well as addressing the lack of knowledge and awareness. They are getting ready to open to the public by building public access into the forest such as walk ways and observation platforms.
Kevin Albin received the Bronze in the World Guide Awards in 2011 and will be donating his winning bursary to the project. "This is a great opportunity to help a little known and very cute bear," said Kevin who is looking for people to join him. Those working at the sanctuary will have a 'behind the scenes' opportunity to see the bears, their care, feeding and play time. Participants will undergo jungle training as the work is in the rainforest and visit the orang-utans who have a sanctuary next door. The fifteen-day trip will finish with a light aircraft flight into remote forest and a trek to a village of the Kelabit tribe.
For more information, visit letloosewithadventure.com.
While the holiday mood for the New Year remaining strong, Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit already underway their new rescue mission of a sun bear cub on Jan 6th. The sun bear cub was sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre the following day after a preliminary health check at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park near the state capital Kota Kinabalu. What would be a better way to the start the new year than rescuing a poor sun bear cub from imprisonment in a small metal cage?
We have not yet fully understood the story of this latest new female sun bear cub. We name her Debbie. Debbie is about 6-8 months old base on her size. From her documentation that we received from Sabah Wildlife Department, she was purchased by a Chinese guy from Tuaran and was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit. We need to do find out the whole story of Debbie soon.
After a long 7 hours on the road from Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, the Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit finally arrived at BSBCC with Debbie at 6:30 pm. Unlike other sun bear cub we rescued in the past, Debbie was an aggressive sun bear cub. She was barking at everyone when we tried to carry her in the transportation cage to her new home. This aggressiveness can only mean two things: she was wild caught and being in captivity for relatively short period, and the new environment and new people she encountered was very stressful on her. Debbie was one of very few sun bear cub that I did not dare to let her suckle my finger (as finger sucking calm down a stressful sun bear cub).
Nonetheless she immediately explored her new den with many climbing structures right after she was released from her transportation cage into her den. Her movement was agile and energetic. This was a good sign for healthy and strong. She had a very special chest marking. A friend in facebook said at the first glance it looked like a "Y." Second it looked like a rooster standing and finally it looked like smoke coming out of a potion bottle! We gave her some electrolyte water to overcome her dehydration during the journey and she drunk it all in one go. She did not eat the food that we gave her probably due to the stressful journey and new environment.
Dear little Debbie, we are glad that Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit managed to rescued you and sent you to BSBCC to take care of you. However, we certainly understand that you have been through a tragic early start and all the bad things that human did to you and your mother. Here in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, our mission is to conserve sun bear through improving animal welfare, raising conservation awareness with education, conducting research, and rehabilitating the sun bear cubs like you who have the chance to return your life in the forest! Little Debbie, we will do our very best to take good care of you!
Text by Wong Siew Te
The magnificent yet unfortunate Sunda clouded leopard mentioned in earlier blog was not unique. Others, many others in fact, wildlife in this part of the world also faced similar fate. Few years ago a friend of mine from Sarawak sent me similar photos- photos of a decapitated sun bear taken in Sarawak. I have seen many photos of dead animals, witnessed many dead animals with my own eyes and I personally dissected many dead animals. In theory I should be able to take it but at that time I can't. The photos of this decapitated sun bear were so powerful that I nearly cannot take it.
Few years ago I visited an Iban village in central Sarawak. I was lucky to be able to follow a local hunter on his hunting trip. During the few kilometers walk in the forest, the hunter showed me several dozens of snares he set to catch wildlife. Although the target animals were bearded pigs, he proudly told me that everything else that walked in the forest such as pheasants, mouse deer, pangolins, sun bears, were once common wildlife captured by the snares until recently. He emphasized "until recently" because he sensed a sharp decline of local wildlife population in the forest. For example sambar deer was almost locally extinct in the forest. Ironically, the once abundant bearded pigs also became rare now a day. Bearded pigs were by far the most important game animals that contributed the majority of their protein source. Yet, under years of over harvesting and exacerbated by unsustainable logging and habitat degradation, bearded pig populations in many areas have declined significantly. When bearded pigs became rare, the hunting pressure has shifted to other species such as sambar deer, 2 species of barking deer and mouse deer, pangolin, and others, sun bear included. We walk passed a snare where the hunter proudly pointed out that he caught a female sun bear just few days ago. He tried to kill the bear but the bear managed to escape from the snare when fighting for her own life. The female's cub was sent to a tree by the mother (mother bears often sent their cubs to hide in tree to escape from danger) but unfortunately the cub climb a small tree where it cannot really conceal itself. The cub was shot dead by the hunter, eaten, and its little gallbladder was sent to the closest town to sell for a few hundred ringgits. I asked if he can show me the skull of the bear cub. "The dog cleaned it all up" I was told. That day we arrived at a pig wallow that seems inactive for a while. He pointed out all of the snares that he set around the wallow to catch animals that come to drink water or to wallow. I was speechless when he pointed to the 8th.
It is truly sad to see this decapitated sun bear and the decapitated clouded leopard. Although both of the two mammal species are totally protected by wildlife protection law in the country, the lack of interest, capacity, and ability to enforce the wildlife laws by the government authority make these laws like never exist. Paper laws so to speak. During my visit to Sarawak I also witness an interesting scene: few billboards erected to educate the public not to kill and to eat game meat. One of them showed all the protected species in Sarawak. The other one was a warning on consuming wild meat. The wording in three languages read:
Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to "buy or sell or offer for sale or claim ro be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof" if that animal has been taken from the wild. This means that all sale of wild boar, deer meat, pigeons, terrapins, frogs or any other meat taken from the wild is an offence.
The penalty to sell or offer for sale or claim to be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof for this offence is a fine of RM5,000.
It is also an offence to buy any items, and the penalty for doing so is a fine of RM2000.
Offenders may be charged in Court"
Obviously these billboards send a good message to educate the public not to be an offender of wildlife laws or you will be punish, may be, according to the message. However, what make this scene interesting and ironic at the same time was that they were erected in front of a row of shops and small businesses. Among these shops were two restaurants that were well known to the locals for selling wild meat. In the forest one could argue that the lack of enforcement is probably due to the lack of interest to enforce wildlife laws as well as lacking resources - human resource, to enforce the law. But in this case the police station and the forestry department office were all nearby in town, it is nothing but lack of interest to enforce the wildlife laws. Police and enforcement agencies all prefer an "easy life." If they can work "less," they would and love to work less!
Under this attitude, wildlife suffered. Clouded leopard, sun bear, and other wildlife suffered and being decapitated and eaten until they are locally extinct. When they are locally extinct, two phenomena may happen: the price of that particular species raise and poachers has to go further in the remote forest to hunt or other less preferred species are now becoming a target species. Across the world there were many examples showing these two situations.
In the case of decapitated sun bear and clouded leopard, obviously the authority has failed us. They were paid and hired to protect the country's wildlife yet they failed. Mohandas Gandhi once said, "When the people lead, the leader will follow." I think it is time for all of us to lead, to act, and to protect our wildlife. We have to realize that we all have the responsibility to ensure their survival and the power to protect them. We can report to the local authorities, conservation NGOs who act like watch dogs with teeth for the authority, or even the local press on the unlawful activities of killing and harming wildlife. We can act to support and help spread the words for organizations that aim to protect wildlife like BSBCC or other wildlife rescue centre so that they can do their work to rescue wildlife. There a lot we can do to help these animals that share the same planet Earth with us. Like I always said, do what you do best to help sun bears and other wildlife. Together we CAN, we DO, and we WILL make a difference!
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Happy New Year everyone! Today is the first day in the year 2012. After a good 6 hours of sleeping, I wake up fresh when the New Year rain was still pouring like a waterfall on top of my roof. Before I wrote this New Year blog, I revisited the New Year blogs that I wrote last year and the year before that. I realized that I used the same title for the two New Year blogs: "New Year, New Hope for the Sun Bears".
Over the many years, I always have high hope for the new coming year. The New Year gives me new hope and new energy to achieve the plans that I wanted to achieve during the new coming year. Like many people, "Year" is the unit that I used over the years for my conservation and research work on sun bears and their habitat. From the first year I started to study sun bear in 1998, "new hope" has been accompanied me to what I have done and achieved today. It was these "hopes" that give me the new set of energy to propose plans and projects. The New Year and new hope of 2012 is no exception.
I personally want our ambitious plan of BSBCC to progress quickly. However, due to difficulties and challenges to raise such a large amount of funds needed to set up of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, we have no choice but to progress the project slowly by subdividing the center's development into "phases" according to the funding we managed to raise and secure at a time.
"Slowly but surely, we will get there."
Since 2008, we have raised nearly one million dollars to pay for the first bear house, the one hectare forest enclosure, the observation platform, the access road to the bear house, the boardwalk that link to the platform, as well as the operation cost over the last four years. It was a lot of money. Thanks to many of your helps and supports, we have successful raised it and wisely spent it over the past four years. This year, our bigger challenge is to raise another one million dollars for the construction of another bear house with another hectare of forest enclosure, the visitor briefing area, upgrade of the existing bear house, quarantine area, and office. I hope we can raise the fund so that we can complete the construction phase of the centre and open to the public.
Education is what I believe that can help save many endangered species and their habitat. "Only if we understand, can we care; Only if we care, will we help; Only if we help, shall they be saved" (Jane Goodall 1990). For sun bear and their habitat- the tropical forest of Southeast Asia, only when ALL OF US understand (not just few biologists, conservationists, or environmentalists, but general public from school students all the way to politicians and a country's decision makers), will ALL OF US care. Only when ALL OF US care, will we starting to help. Only after ALL OF US help, shall sun bears, other wildlife and their habitat be saved!
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre aims to educate the public and make the public to understand sun bears and their habitat. We use a holistic approach that incorporate education, research, rehabilitation, and promote animal welfare to conserve sun bears and their habitat.
Please help us achieve this goal in the year 2012!
Siew Te Wong
Founder and CEO,
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre