The first academic visit to BSBCC Sepilok happened on 1st April 2009 with a group of 6 graduate students from University Putra Malaysia (UPM). These students are interested on conducting various studies on both wild and captive sun bears.The visit marked an important step to link to achieve our goal to conduct more research with universities and other research agencies. Conducting more research on Sun Bears is one of our mission and goal in BSBCC.
Cheryl Cheah, Wong Wee Nee, Katharine, Tan Hwee Mien, Grace and Helman are the researchers under the UPM’s Sun Bear Research Group which is lead by Professor Abdul Rani Bahaman and Dr. Reuben Sunil Kumar Sharma. The group was founded since 2007 and it aimed to get more comprehensive researches on the only bear species in Malaysia.
During the 7 days visit, these students were being introduced to various techniques and skills that are useful to study the wild sun bear. Skills were included sun bears signs identification, camera trapping and live trapping. Besides that, they were also showed on the daily operations in our centre.
BSBCC is happy to see there are more researchers interested on our forgotten bear. I am sure with the visit we had built up a stronger relation between UPM and BSBCC. We are looking forward to learn, share information, and help the sun bear together in the coming days.
It was truly a fun evening with a lot of laughter with Chris Morgan, Joe Pontecorvo, John Taylor, and many others from the BEARTREK family and guests that make it to the party on April 23rd to cerebrate the achievement that Wildlife Media accomplished and keep the spirit of Beartrek high. The evening was joined by over a hundred guests and fans of bear and BEARTREK. It was a fun evening that brought up a lot of the sweet memories and stories during the filming in Bornean rainforest, Cerah the little sun bears, and the blood sucking leeches.
I would like to take this opportunity to specially thank Chris and John over and over again to feature sun bear and pick me to work with in the movie. I really hope BEARTREK will change the faith of sun bear- the least known bear and a forgotten bear species, so that people around the world will know and help a little bear call sun bears!
Below is a thank you letter from Chris Morgan:
April 24, 2009
What an evening!
On behalf of Wildlife Media staff and board, thank you for joining us in celebration last night. It was an evening to remember. Truly, Wildlife Media (WM) couldn't have come this far without your help and support. So it was a real treat to share the presentation and BEARTREK demo reel with you in a place as fun as the Big Picture.
Speaking of treats, we hope you also enjoyed biologists Robyn Appleton and Siew Te Wong who shared their "bear worlds" with us. Their stories from the field remind us of the importance and benefits of working with local communities on conservation. And their stories are only two of many to be told through BEARTREK.
I'd like to recognize just a few of the people behind last night's event. WM co-founder, CEO, and board chair John Taylor was instrumental in making this celebration happen. Plus, photographer Tim Chandonnet donated his time to capture the night in pictures. To see and purchase photos from the evening, visit Tim'swebsite. Fifty percent of photo sales go directly to Wildlife Media.
One last note: We want to keep you up-to-speed on our work to help fund critical wildlife projects around the globe. So beginning with this message, you'll be hearing more from us on how Wildlife Media and BEARTREK are making a real difference. If you'd like to help spread the word to others, sharing the links below is an excellent place to start:
Bellingham ecologist makes bear documentary to save wild places
KIE RELYEA - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Bellingham ecologist Chris Morgan is taking his BMW motorcycle on a journey to four continents in search of the world's endangered bears - an epic adventure being made into a feature-length documentary called "Beartrek."
The goal isn't just to show the bears in their habitat, stunning as the wild coast of Katmai, Alaska, and the rainforest canopy of Borneo, Malaysia, may be when shot in high definition.
The idea is to raise money for conservation efforts by selling audiences on why wild bears in wild places should matter to people, to spin an entertaining tale that will do for conservation what Al Gore did for climate change in "An Inconvenient Truth." "They represent these wild places that we all need. Where you've got bears, you've got fresh water, you've got clean air, you've got intact forest and ecosystems," Morgan said one day over coffee. "They need those things, and so do we." "Beartrek," which is still being shot, follows Morgan and his motorcycle to seven locations in Canada, Alaska, Peru, India, Borneo and Mongolia.In addition to Morgan, who also narrates the film, the featured stars will be giant brown bears in Alaska, polar bear cubs in Canada and Alaska, sloth bears in India, sun bears in Borneo, elusive Andean bears in Peru, and brown bears in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
INSPIRED BY SCIENCE
Morgan grew up in England and had plans, early on, to become a graphic designer.When he was 18, the outdoors lover came to New Hampshire to teach kids at a summer camp how to fish. And that was where a bear biologist's presentation sent his life in a new direction."I was transfixed. I had no idea you could do that kind of thing in life," he said.
Morgan would go on to become an ecologist specializing in bears and, over the years, he would work on each of the four continents where bears existed. "Everywhere I went, I could see biologists who were struggling to do this important work with limited funds and limited exposure," Morgan said.Locally, he's known for the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, which he started some six years ago to educate the public about the dwindling number of grizzly bears in the North Cascades.
Morgan said there are probably about 10 grizzlies remaining within 10,000 square miles in the Cascades. Those square miles were designated as a grizzly bear recovery zone in 1991.
"So they're practically the walking dead," he said. "They are highly endangered, one of the rarest populations of mammals in North America."
As Morgan continued his own work, he mulled over the idea of supporting the other scientists he'd met as well as using his particular talent for making people "hyped and inspired by our wild places."Morgan landed on the idea of doing that through bears, iconic creatures who are in peril. Five out of the world's eight species are at risk. "Bears capture people's imagination like no other creatures," he said. "People love them or loathe them, but they're seldom indifferent about them."
SAVING BEARS BY ENTERTAINING PEOPLE
Morgan hatched the idea for "Beartrek" over a beer with Joe Pontecorvo, a Seattle-based wildlife filmmaker and producer. They met in Alaska while Morgan was guiding a group of people to see brown bears, also known as grizzlies, and Pontecorvo was filming bears for PBS.
Pontecorvo said he needed to do more for conservation, and while nature films were good for "spectacle," not enough was being done to protect the planet. He and Morgan also wanted to tell the good news about existing efforts.
"I always say we all know the sky is falling when it comes to the environment, but there are also some really good ways to prop up the sky," Morgan explained.
"We can change the course of events." And do it in a way that draws gearheads and environmentalists into theaters, "not just the already converted," Pontecorvo said.
That's where Morgan's motorcycle comes in. He and Pontecorvo figured that a story about a guy riding his BMW through the back roads into the wild would appeal to adventurers out there, even if they're not green.
"Beartrek" also is a wildlife documentary meant to entertain along the lines of "March of the Penguins" and "Winged Migration." And like those films, Morgan and other conservationists who started the venture hope to release "Beartrek" in theaters as well as DVD, TV, the Internet, and any medium that will spread the message.
Pontecorvo also sees "Beartrek" as a new model for conservation in that its profits will be sunk into bear conservation. Existing conservation efforts and the scientists behind them already are getting help, even though the documentary isn't finished."They couldn't wait," Pontecorvo said.
Some $25,000 to $30,000 worth of materials and aid, including cash, already have gone to biologists working to save bears."It doesn't have to be an awful lot of money. It goes so far in the places where they need it most," Morgan said.
The overall project is being handled by Wildlife Media, a nonprofit started in September 2007 to manage "Beartrek" and the goal of raising $2 million, with half of that going directly to bear projects around the world, including those featured in the film.
Bear and motorcycle enthusiasts don't have to wait until the film is finished to see Morgan and Pontecorvo's beautiful handiwork. A 20-minute demo reel of their venture to Alaska and Borneo already is being used to raise private dollars for the documentary and conservation projects.
"Beartrek" opens with sweeping views of the rugged Katmai coast in Alaska, where giant brown bears, or grizzlies, gather in big numbers each year.
"These bears start life the weight of a squirrel and end life the weight of a car," Morgan narrates, as bears run around a stream and snatch salmon from the water.
These are the largest, most impressive bears in the world, living in one of the most intact ecosystems, Morgan said in a separate interview. They can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds and are capable of consuming 30,000 calories a day.
Contrast that with the second part of the demo, where Morgan travels to Borneo in search of the sun bear - the smallest bear species in the most diverse place in Asia.A big sun bear weighs 100 pounds.
There, Morgan rides his motorcycle into a rainforest being logged - 50 percent has been lost in the past 20 years - make way for palm-oil plantations that stretch for mile after mile. Palm oil is found in many everyday products, from ice cream to cosmetics. It's also a bio fuel, and the world's hunger for it is destroying the habitat for sun bears and other wildlife.
In Borneo, Morgan meets up with Siew Te Wong, a biologist trying to save the bears, including an orphaned sun bear club named "Chera," which means "bright" in Malay.
Pontecorvo recorded Chera, then 10 months old, being released from a cage and playing, first hesitantly then with abandon.
"It was the most amazing thing to watch," the filmmaker said. Morgan is raising money to go on the next shoot in Peru, home to the most ancient bear species on the planet - the threatened Andean bear, so rarely seen that biologists don't know how many still exist.The Peru shoot will cost about $95,000, and a little over half has been raised.The hoped-for theatrical release date for "Beartrek" is 2010.
"What we want to do is make conservation a social norm," he said. "I know that sounds like a huge goal, and it is."
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.
TO LEARN MORE
• Additional information about "Beartrek" and Wildlife Media, including how to make a tax-deductible donation to the making of the feature-length film and bear conservation efforts, is available online at wildlifemedia.org. • Find Grizzly Bear Outreach Project at bearinfo.org. • More on Joe Pontecorvo, the wildlife filmmaker who's shooting "Beartrek," at joepontecorvo.com. Watch a 20-minute short of "Beartrek"
Started from the 1st of April 2009, we had hired another staff in our bear centre at Sepilok, Sabah. Now, with one more helping hand, the 12 sun bears housed in the centre will definitely receive more love, care and attention. Our new staff, David bins Daiz, 31 years old, a local Kadazan people. He worked in the army for 5 years, and has a lot of experiences in the forest. Now, he is hired as a trainee bear keeper. David will be train to look after our sun bears from preparing bear food, cleaning cages to enriching the bear exercise enclosures.
David is energetic and fit to do his job. He shows great responsible to all the tasks that assigned to him. Although David is still new to this field, his passion to the bears and hard works were recognized by every body in the centre. For sure he can picked up and get used to it very soon. We all glad that David has joined us together!
David is preparing food for the bears.
He shows great responsible to all the tasks that assigned to him.
Susie was the first bear who moved into the new cage. Elis, SOURC ranger, sedated Susie and then she has a medical checked by Dr Cecilia. According to Dr., Susie health was much better compare to the first day Susie arrive at BSBCC last August. Anybody can tell the different on its fur and coating, it’s more shining now! Due to the shortage of bear cage, she was put into a 122 x 92 x 106cm cage for the last few months. However, now she can have a more spacious cage to stay and hang around! Nevertheless, she can go out to the exercise enclosure that full with dried leaves and branches!
Susie was kept in this small cage for several months while waiting the new bear cage to be finished. Susie also has a new neighbor, Kuamut. She was moved into the cage beside Susie. We hope that Kuamut will get used to her new home and neighbor very soon. Of course, she also can explore the exercise enclosure just like others. If you are our loyal reader, you will remember Kuamut was a pet before with two heavy chains on her neck. Please read story about Kuamut at http://www.bsbcc.org.my/bear-talk-blog/kuamut-our-latest-rescued-sun-bear The last bear we moved was Suria, the youngest in the centre. She was put into the cage beside Kuamut. For sure, Suria likes her new home very much. Suria was so keen on her cage and started to explore at every corner once she was recovered from the sedation. She even started to climb for the first time! However, we found out that her arm muscle was not strong enough, and need to depend on her teeth to grab on the bars. We are still optimist that Suria can build up her muscle and climbing skills very soon!
Susie was just recovered from the sedation in her new cage.
Susie is an elegant and healthy bear here.
Kuamut, is neighboring with Susie and Suria. We hope she can get used to the new environment very soon.
Suria was so excited in her new cage, and she even did not need time to get used to the new environment after sedation. She just wants to play and have fun!
After several hours climbing, breaking log and branches, Suria was exhausted and slept peacefully in her new sleeping basket for the first time. I can’t describe how happy when I saw these three bears were released into their new and more spacious cages. However, I still have to pray harder and hope that BSBCC new bear house can be started to build soon. That is because I know more bears are still keep in bad condition, in small and dirty cages without proper care of the their “owners”. I also hope the forest will stay healthy so that the sun bears will never lose their natural home.
Text by Julie Trump, Chairman of Sun Bear Conservation Trust
As Spring arrived in the UK, the Sun Bear Conservation Trust celebrated the end of the long winter with a day of fund-raising events over the UK. In London (as previous posting) Fiona McInally had a very successful cake sale near a local street market and sold delicious home-made cakes that would have tempted the most avid dieters - even Victoria Beckham would have thrown her lettuce leaves to one side! Further north-east in Boston, Lincolnshire, Lindsey Hahn held a wonderful indoor sale and coffee morning - she had planned to hold it outside but had to change venue and run indoors with her cakes and bric-a-brac when April showers started (sorry no photo available)!
I, in Newbury Park, Essex held a bring n buy cake sale at my Mum's house and garden and was overwhelmed by the generosity of local friends and neighbours donating gifts and buying others as well as tucking into cakes and gingerbread bears and buying tickets for my prize raffle.
Anna Cocker, all the way up in Bolton, had signed up for a sponsored 5 mile run when disaster struck; she fractured her arm at karate a few days before (but you should have seen the other guy)! Despite this, her Dad and sister still kindly gave Anna their pledged money - maybe they were a little afraid with her being a brown-belt!
So, the day was a great success and raised £395 for the sun bears so a big thanks to everyone involved. Hoping to do another in the summer when temperature rises - can maybe sell ice-cream too!!!
If you are interested in helping us in the UK and supporting the work of BSBCC and sun bears everywhere, please contact us at the Sun Bear Conservation Trust by e-mailing me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow all our news and upcoming events on this blog and please send us any comments and suggestions you have to help us help the sun bears! Big thanks, Julie
Wai Pak and LEAP staff Sylvia at the BSBCC booth during the EARCOS conference
March 26th -28th saw the holding of the East Asian Region Council of Schools (EARCOS) (http://www.earcos.org ) annual conference in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, and this year BSBCC was chosen as the recipient of their fundraising efforts!
During the 3-day event a total of approximately US$1,450 (Malaysian Ringgit 5,255) was raised, including US$1,286 from the sale of raffle tickets, US$31 from donations and US$133 from a charity run.
BSBCC’s Ng Wai Pak manned the BSBCC booth complete with displays and educational materials during the whole event, helped out by volunteers Ian and Martin and colleagues from LEAP. There was a great atmosphere with many teachers who attended the conference asking questions about sun bears and their conservation, and ways in which schools in the region could help out. This was a great opportunity to increase awareness and spread the word, as well as raise much needed funds for BSBCC, and we thank EARCOS wholeheartedly for their support.
Wai Pak manning the BSBCC booth at the EARCOS conference
Raffle prizes to raise money for BSBCC were donated by each of the schools taking part in the conference
Some of the very nice raffle prizes.
Wai Pak the Sun Bear 'Uncle' - Wong is the 'Daddy'! Conservation hero in the making for sure!
Two weekends ago Fiona McInally from Sun Bear Conservation Trust UK, took one day off from work and spent the whole day baking delicious homemade cakes and biscuits. The next day, she and her friend set up a stall in London and spent all day talking to passers by about sun bear and selling these homemade cakes and cookies to raise money for the sun bears! After a long day of talking and busy selling these yummy home baked cakes, they had raised £174.50 for the bears!I am so touch with the efforts of Fiona, Julie and many others who have work so hard to help. These are heroes behind the scene to help and save sun bears. Slowly, bits by bits, we can achieved our goals by working together.
Yummy homemade cakes and cookies!
If you are interested in helping us in the UK and supporting the work of BSBCC and sun bears everywhere, please contact us at the Sun Bear Conservation Trust by e-mailing Julie Trump at : email@example.com