On the 23rd January 2017, Mr. Todd Hannah the US Embassy Science and Technology Officer visited BSBCC and was welcomed by our CEO and Founder, Dr. Wong Siew Te. Dr. Wong delivered a short presentation about BSBCC’s roles and efforts in sun bear conservation before guiding Mr. Todd to view the bears from the observation platform.
BSBCC CEO & Founder, Dr. Wong Siew Te delivering his presentation about BSBCC during Mr. Todd Hannah's visit.
It is our honor to have Mr. Todd Hannah as our guest at BSBCC. We would also like to thank the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur for funding BSBCC’s education programme for this year.
Text by Lam Jia Ern Photos by Chiew Lin May and Seng Yen Wah
11 months later and I’m back.
January 2016, I was attending the BSBCC for my wildlife placement. December 2016, I’m back again to help out with the caretaking of the ever growing family of 42 fur babies.
Working again with the bear team was better than the first, but with the added number of bears, there were some stressful times while working, especially on the day the bears received their deworming medication. It was a great opportunity for me to work with the friends and people that have shared their knowledge with me about the bears again. My admiration and respect for their ongoing dedication has grown tenfold.
After being a book nerd for 9 months, I was definitely out of shape. Carrying the bears’ food during feeding time and fence-checking was enough to make me out-of-breath most of the time. It had become a mission of my buddy, Azzry, to get me back to tiptop shape. With fence checks every few days and trekking into the enclosures to gather the plants we needed to make our enrichments, it was surely a challenge. Under the brutal training that Azzry had set for me, I felt stronger at the end of my 2 weeks. Volunteering here at the BSBCC won’t be an easy job; it will be a strength and stamina training ground for most. To those that work under rigorous conditions every day, I applaud you. During my first time at the centre, I didn’t get much of a chance to learn about the many ways we could keep the bears occupied with enrichments. This time around, with the help of Azzry, I had managed filled that empty space of knowledge of mine. The creation of enrichments is no easy feat, especially for me, as it requires some creativity, which I obviously lack, to think of something new and exciting for the bears. With a whole forest-full of plants that we could use, along with some fruits and the bears’ most prized treats, peanut butter and honey, we managed to create some new enrichments for the bears to play with.
Thank you again to everyone at the BSBCC for welcoming me back with open hearts and for putting up with me. And a special thank you goes out to the bear team and Dr Wong for sharing your pool of knowledge about the sun bears with me. I hope I wasn’t much of a bother and I wish nothing but the best to everyone there. I hope to meet you guys again in the future!
Dr. Wong Siew Te, CEO and Founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).
Happy New Year to all of you! It is the time of the year where we say farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017. No doubt, 2016 was another great year for BSBCC. This New Year marked the 9th year of BSBCC working hard to conserve sun bears in Sabah under the four pillars – animal welfare, education, research and rehabilitation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you over and over again for your help and support over the years. Without your help and support in many ways, we seriously cannot achieve what we have achieved today. My team and I are looking forward to the challenges and plans for the New Year. But first, let’s review the major achievements in 2016:
1. Animal Welfare: BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department rescued 5 additional sun bears in 2016, making BSBCC receive a total of 53 sun bears over the past nine years. Currently, BSBCC is caring for 42 rescued sun bears and has exceeded the carrying capacity of our Centre.
2. Education: A total of 61,533 visitors have visited the BSBCC in 2016. In addition, 34 school groups that consisted of 1,385 students and teachers have visited us to learn about the sun bears and their plights. Our education team, under the leadership of Gloria Ganang, our Environmental Education Executive, has conducted various education outreach program in 31 different schools across Sabah and reached more than 11,000 school students and teachers!
3.Research: A sun bear behavioural study and few other smaller projects have been completed in-house with our captive sun bears. Two field research projects on wild sun bears have started and are on-going in 2017.
4.Rehabilitation: Lawa the adult female sun bear was released in Tabin Wildlife Reserve in July 2016. This has marked the second sun bear rehabilitated and released back to the wild.
5.Construction: The second observation platform and the aerial walkway have been completed and open to the public in May 2016. This project was kindly sponsored by Sime Darby Foundation.
All of these achievements are also impossible without the help from our 26 dedicated staff and 101 volunteers from all over the world. They are truly my heroes and heroines who helped me run BSBCC to help the rescued sun bears. I am also grateful to all of our supporters, funders, donors, and the 61 thousand of BSBCC’s visitors, without your generous contributions, none of our works can happen. Thank you all! I hope all of you can continue your support and help. 2017 is the 9th year since BSBCC first operates in 2008. We have more plans and projects to be conducted this year in addition to the on-going projects that we are working on.
These projects include the release of four more rehabilitated sun bears in the wild, the construction of our gateway which was delayed last year due to funding issue, the operation of our long term field study and rehab station at Tabin Wildlife Reserve and the Sabah State wide sun bear status survey. This year we also introduce four more objectives or pillars into the current fourobjectives. These four pillars are ecotourism, community conservation, anti-poaching, and captive breeding of rescued sun bears which will be slowly implemented in the next 10 years!
BSBCC started as a very small project in 2008 but definitely was an ambitious project when I first had the idea to found it in 2004. This Centre is probably the biggest achievement I had in my entire life. I (later become “we”) have big dreams for this little bears, which is to ensure their survival in the tropical forest of Southeast Asia for a long-long time to come. As a wildlife biologist, conservationist, and tropical forest ecologist who study sun bears and the tropical rainforest for the past 20 years, I understand the importance of sun bears to the forest ecosystem or vice versa. Both are dependent on each other but this tropical forest home for the sun bears is very fragile and vulnerable due to human activities. If we lose the forest, sun bears will lose their home and we may lose the most fundamental elements required for all life – clean air, clean water and stable climate. The aims of BSBCC are not just to educate the public about the plights of sun bears, but also the importance of the rainforest to us and the sun bears.
In this New Year, I wish that our works can continue and continue to be successful. However, we cannot do this alone. Your support and help are crucial for our success to conserve sun bears through a holistic approach. There is no room for failure as we know the consequences if we fail. Thank you once again. Wishing you all the best in this New Year! May all beings be happy, joyful, well, be safe & at peace! Another year has passed and the new year of 2017 is here.