A talk on environmental conservation was held at the IOI UNICO-DESA Plantation Berhad, Kinabatangan on on the 27th April 2017. Representatives from the Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department, Royal Malaysia Police (Sukau branch) HUTAN-KOCP and BSBCC were among the speakers during the programme. The programme aims to support the IOI UNICO-DESA Plantation towards sustainable practices and being RSPO certified. More than 60 participants were involved which comprised of plantation managers, assistant managers, supervisors, and RSPO clerks. Dialog sessions and exhibitions were also carried our throughout the programme.
Text By Charina Pria Photos By Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hailing from Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, my name is Charina Pria, a 23-year old Sunway University undergraduate student who’s majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology. I first heard of The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) when I first went on an expedition with Raleigh International to Sabah in 2014 and my volunteering experience brought me to Imbak Canyon, a pristine Class-1 Protected Rainforest in Sabah, where I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the amazing biodiversity that habituates many wildlife animals there, including Sun Bears! That is when I learnt about BSBCC where the rangers mentioned about the conservation efforts of sun bears in Sabah. Fast forward a couple of years later, when the time came to apply for an internship placement, BSBCC was obviously my first choice because I was excited and ready to learn about the biological aspects of sustainability, wildlife conservation and not forgetting, the sun bears! After applying and undergoing an interview with BSBCC, I was very grateful to be given a placement here!
3 months of my time here, I was exposed to many different things at the centre – namely the four pillars that the centre was founded upon, which are, (1) Education, (2) Rehabilitation, (3) Welfare and lastly, (4) Research. In each pillar, I had the opportunity to work, learn and be exposed with a diverse group of people who had impeccable knowledge and skills who were so helpful to pass on and to teach you everything they know about sun bears, the work they do and WHY they do it!
In the Education Unit, I worked alongside Gloria, Ina, Sharon, Bellinda, and Jeremy in their educational activities such as their School Outreach Programmes. I travelled to primary and secondary schools around Sandakan for a week and handled BSBCC’s education booth and helped raise awareness about sun bears, the conservation matters, the issues of sun bears and what BSBCC is currently doing to help these sun bears. It was definitely an enriching experience because I got to converse with a handful of school students, teachers and even school staffs on these matters, and not only get to spread what I’ve learnt from BSBCC, but I also get to listen to their point of view, their questions and participate in meaningful discussions.
Explaining to students about Kong, a type of enrichment tool we give to the sun bears at the centre.
I even got the chance to be Sunny, BSBCC's sun bear mascot! Definitely a highlight of the entire outreach because I get to see children (and teachers as well) happy!
After having gone for the outreach programme, I continued on helping in the Rehabilitation and Welfare Unit, or more affectionately known as the Bear Care Team. This was where most of my internship period was spent and where memories were made! I was placed under the buddy care of Mizuno who taught me the steps of working in the Bear House and guided me throughout everything in the centre – cage cleaning, kitchen duty (preparing all of the sun bear’s dietary requirement, etc), fence checks, enrichment building and not forgetting, his ever-enthusiasm in helping me to recognize and learn more about each sun bears in the centre with captivating stories.
Me, Tommy (left) and my buddy Mizuno (right), helping me build up an enrichment platform for sun bear, Wan-Wan. Enrichment is very important as enrichment can help to improve the bear's physiological well-being & encourage and stimulate natural behavior & instinct. There are many types of enrichment, and this platform is aimed to be a resting and habituation enrichment where the bear can rest up high above as how they would be resting in trees in the wild.
Done with Wan-Wan's platform!
Buddy Mizuno and I once again building a 'table' as an enrichment for sun bear Nano, Noah, Kina & Sika. This furniture enrichment can help encourage the bears to climb, hide, and play!
Sun bear Noah, inspecting and being curious of the table!
Not only Mizuno, but I owe my experiences to the entire Bear Care team – Thye Lim, Lin May, Azzry, Yen Wah, Roger, Lester, David, Tommy and Andy and the volunteers and interns that I have met throughout my time here, whom I’ve fostered amazing friendships with.
Posing with our finished bamboo feeders (another type of enrichment) for the sun bears with probably one of the craziest people ever, Sophie, Jen and Jojo.
Extremely passionate people that I’ve managed to meet and learn from. (and joke with too!)
Lastly, not forgetting Dr. Wong Siew Te, who has been an incredible and inspirational role model throughout my time here, who’d take time out from his busy schedule to have sessions with the volunteers, where you can ask him all sorts of questions ranging from sun bears, to conservation issues, about the centre, its history, challenges, future plans and so much more. I’ve met a lot of incredible people here at BSBCC (and bears!) in this short amount of time, who have taught me patience and more importantly how essential it is to have passion in the work you do, as passion is ultimately what will drive you to grow, to learn and to keep on thriving forward when things get bumpy. I am immensely grateful to BSBCC and Dr. Wong for all the guidance, the teachings, the laughter and not forgetting, the invaluable experience that has given me the clarity to be a part of a community that cares and works in the wildlife conservation field.
The utmost passionate team I've ever met and it was a pleasure helping and working under you guys!
Today April 27th, 2017 BSBCC received group visit from SK Segama. BSBCC’s education team brought in total 40 preschool students that came with their teachers and parents. After a short briefing about sun bear by one of the education team, the students and teachers then visited the observation platform to see the sun bears roaming in the forest enclosure. We believe that environmental education is vital and can help to further conserve the sun bears. We were glad that the students had a great time in our Centre and we hope that they learned more about sun bears and their environment.
They were very happy to meet 'Sunny' the sun bear!
Introduction to sun bear using our sun bear mascot, 'Sunny'
More than 70 students from University Malaysia Sabah's Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and BSBCC to experience conservation works on the ground. The students were divided into several groups to learn the operations of both rehabilitation Centres. Yesterday each groups presented their experience working at both Centres for a day. It was a great learning opportunity for these future conservationists and hope to have more groups coming in future.
Dr. Wong sharing his experiences in wildlife conservation
Dr. Wong receiving token of appreciation from UMS
Students sharing their experience
The students were divided into several different groups to complete their tasks
24th April 2017 - BSBCC welcomes a group visit from the students of SMK Sandakan, Sandakan. The students were given a a short briefing before they were brought to the observation platforms to see the sun bears. Most of the students from this group have not visited our Centre before. They were really excited to have a tour around our Centre to see sun bears. We were glad that the students are happy to learn more about sun bears and the environment. Through environmental education, we hope that the students will be more aware on the importance of protecting the environment and help us to spread the words. At BSBCC, we always welcome group visits to our Centre!
Observing the bear up in a tree through a spotting scope
Today 22nd April 2017, we were visited by three groups from MRSM Sandakan, UMS (Conservation Biology Students) and Sk Rancangan Lubuh. The students were given presentation on the description of operations in BSBCC and information about sun bear. After a short briefing about sun bear and operation in BSBCC, the students and teachers then visited the observation platform to see the sun bears roaming in the forest enclosure. Awareness on the environment and wildlife is an issue which should be reasonably considered. Knowledge, skills and values as well as positive attitude towards the environment can be developed through environmental education.
Dr Wong Siew Te give his speech on BSBCC's roles and efforts in sun bears conservation to the groups.
Bellinda delivering her presentation.
Students of SK Rancangan Lubuh excited to see the bears!
Bear Keeper, Azzry is giving safety induction for the students.
Andy's Group is helping with the cleaning activities.
Text by Seng Yen Wah Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hi, I'm Kina!
Time has flown! Kina recently just finished her quarantine care under BSBCC and is a one year old female juvenile bear. Previously, she was kept as a pet for more than a year before her owner decided to surrender her to Sabah Wildlife Department. Her owner claimed that Kina’s mother abandoned her when they were crossing a road and her mother got frightened and ran away while leaving her behind. During that time, she was just a bear cub and had not opened her eyes yet. She showed signs of malnutrition with her relatively small head compared to her body size. With an appropriate diet in BSBCC, she now weighs 18.4kg! Her favourite foods are papaya, honeydew, egg and of course milk! Though, even with her favourites, Kina is not picky and still enjoys all the food that we have given to her!
My favourite foods are honeydew, coconut and hmm.. many more!
She has adapted well in quarantine since she arrived here at BSBCC and spends her time in her cage that is full of fire hose enrichment products such as fire hose hammock, wood hammock, and a heart-shaped honeycomb. Other than that, she also likes to play KONG, Aussie Dog Ball, and her favourite toy, the Bear Ball!! She totally is an enrichment lover. She loves to stay on the hanging platform where this allows her to stay up high and for her resting needs. The hanging platform is like her secret garden – It brings us much joy and happiness to see her bring her favourite food or toys up there to play with it.
My cage is full of fire hose enrichment products!
The Aussie Dog Ball is inside the Fire Hose Basket.
I got the Aussie Dog Ball! Let me see what is inside the ball!
I fit in the basket! And I want to bring along the Aussie Dog Ball with me!!
In order to encourage her natural bear behaviour, keepers let her out to a larger den where there will be a larger space for her to explore around and get closer to the forest. Kina will step out from her cage with utmost curiosity and will explore the environment around her from every single corner like a good inspector. She enjoys staying in a natural environment like a den that is decorated with leaves and decayed wood. Most of the time, she explores the enrichment that has been prepared in the den. Kina’s day can be so simple where even a small decayed wood can simply make her day. She just knows how to enjoy the time with her own ways by lying on the dry leaves and turning on her relax mode.
This is the new den for me!
Let me check every corner here!
Is it something here?
Or maybe here?
Finally I'm here on the 'Platform Tree'!!
Tree barks in the basket!
See! I'm so good in playing with tire!
This is the forest that I have been looking for!
Closer to the forest make me hyperactive!
Let me introduce this is my favourite enrichment, bear ball!
I like to bring the bear ball with me!
Natural environment make me feel like I'm home!
I'm enjoying with all the leaves and woods.
Make me be a happy kid!!
Dancing like an Opera!
Kina is a playful bear. The keepers will play fight with her so she can also learn some of the defence skills to protect herself later onwards. She shows her strength during the play fight that can be seen through pawing, which is a bear way of playing. However, some of the bear survival skills cannot be taught from a caretaker such as foraging, building a tree nest and so on. Hence, we plan to introduce her to a new bear friend who can teach her to become a real bear using the bear way. We one day hope that Kina will forage, build nests and stay in the wild because she truly deserves it, and deserves to be a real wild bear.
After the school outreach programme at Ranau District where the majestic Mount Kinabalu lies on, our team continue to go for outreach to Kota Belud District from the 9th of April to 13th of April 2017. This time, the outreach programme is organized by our partner HUTAN – KOCP and we were glad to participate in this programme. We visited 5 different schools near Kota Belud Town (SMK Taun Gusi II, SK Sembirai, SMK Pekan II Kota Belud, SK Pekan Kota Belud, SMK Arshad). This outreach programme were participated by Wildlife Rescue Unit, the Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC. Many interactive activities conducted and a few talks from each participating organisations were delivered during this programme. We were happy that the students enjoyed the programme and we hope that they learn more about the Mother Nature. Thanks to our partner HUTAN – KOCP for inviting us and we look forward to join more awareness programme in the future!
Ms Risnayati Lammu, BSBCC Environmental Education Officer presenting her talk
Wildlife Rescue Unit Booth
Interactive activity - introduction to Clouded Leopard
Jeremy Jeffrey presenting his talk at SMK Pekan II Kota Belud
Q&A session with student
Teachers visiting our booth
One of the students receiving gift from BSBCC during Q&A session
The BSBCC education outreach programme is continuing to be conducted and this time the BSBCC education team visited schools in Ranau district. We started our outreach programme by joining the Community Policing Programme at Genting Suan Lamba Estate on the 2nd April 2017 organized by HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme. We were given a chance to share information about sun bear to students and community at Suan Lamba Estate from the talk session and exhibitions that we had prepared. On the next day (3rd April 2017) BSBCC outreach programme continued running in Ranau. We had visited 5 schools in Ranau that involves 2,112 students and 112 teachers. We invited our partners from Hutan-KOCP and Sabah Wildlife Department, Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU), Danau Girang Field Centre, Borneo Bird Club and Sabah Parks to join us and we organized various environmental education activities for the students. All of the students enjoyed their time learning about the environment and wildlife species through exhibitions, talks and some activities.
Community of Genting Suan Lamba Estate participating in the programme
Exhibition by Sabah Wildlife Department
Students from the school in the estate also have the chance to visit our booth.
Ice breaking session conducted by Jeremy
Clarice from Danau Girang Field Centre delivering her talk to the students
Exhibition from Wildlife Rescue Unit
Alim Biun from Sabah Parks presented his talk to the students
Sun Bear interpretation using sun bear mascot
Students of SK Lohan
Arsenia from Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) presenting her talk about WRU's works
Prize presentation for animal mask colouring competition
Clouded Leopard interpretation by Alif from HUTAN-KOCP
One of the activities held during the programme is clouded leopard interpretation; one of the students was invited to b the 'clouded leopard'
BSBCC educational booth
Melvin from Sabah Wildlife Department talking about Protected Species of Sabah
Short briefing from Gloria before the programme starts
Since being rescued from a village in Sikalabaan, Sabah on February 9th 2017, Sika, a five month old, female sun bear cub, has completed her time in quarantine.
Sika is being bottle fed five times a day in FIDO dog milk replacer
She has shown tremendous growth in the last month. She is an active, healthy and beautiful female bear cub. She now weighs 7.25kg.
Chart shows the growth curve of Sika cub (Updated 4th April 2017). Showing Sika is in good health and gain more weight
The next rehabilitation phase for Sika is taking her out for walks in the forest. The problem with Sika is that she is still nervous to step out from her dens and the bonding between her surrogate mother is still weak. She was caged alone as a pet in a chicken mesh cage after losing her mother. All little Sika knew was pain and fear. She has needed to gain back confidence and trust towards her new surroundings.
To prepare her in gaining back strength, confidence and trust, we have moved Sika into a larger exercise den with an environment which is as close as possible to life in the wild. This exercise dens is full of natural habitat enrichment such as dead wood, green leaves, leafy browse, climbing structures, a platform, and treats to stimulate and prepare her for life back in the wild.
Bear care team are help to setting up in various type of environmental enrichment
We gave Sika the opportunity to venture out for the very first time. Once Sika was brought to the larger exercise den, she was easily stressed by noise and paced with alert at the new larger exercise den. She kept vocalizing and was uncomfortable with it. We tried to comfort and help her adapt to the new environment by showing her new enrichment toys. Sika needed plenty of time.
Thankfully, she did it! She calmed down and adapted to it. She decided it was time to explore the whole exercise den. Sun bear cubs require a lot of exercise to practice their physical skills and grow stronger! Her courage has grown with each day and she has started exploring.
Sika naturally curious but also very alert
She becoming more playful and less nervous!
Stretching body before enter exercise dens!
She will gaze up at the nearby forest surrounding her exercise dens.
FOREST will be my HOME!
She always goes straight to the big log and pulls off its branches. After one week, we are pleased with her progress in finding the strength to venture without any hesitation.
Since little Sika was moved to larger exercise dens, she have been develop at a great rate!
Sika is learning to trust her surrogate mother without fear. She will be growing and learning under the guidance of her surrogate mother.
With great love the surrogate mother teach Little Sika how to climb tree!
She loves rolling and wrestling, and she is just so happy. Sika has excellent climbing skills. She uses her small curved claws to create a cavity in the climbing log to get the ants. Sometimes she will climb high to get a better look and avoid strange sounds! We envy her tree-climbing skills!!
Curious Sika climbs higher the platform tree
Sika is busy in digging!!
Sika digs the log hole in search of insects and leave distinctive claw marks!
We envy her tree-climbing skills!!
Little more playful!
Tired after play !
Tired after play !
Sika fun, for sure!
She is learning and experiencing that life as a wild bear can be great. She knows her tragic past is now behind her and is discovering her natural behavior. She has proven herself to be a sweet natured sun bear! We hope the next move will be taking little Sika on walks in the forest to let her experience the true Bornean environment.
Bring Sika to walk in forest in preparing Sika to live independently in her forest HOME.
Bring Sika to walk in forest in preparing Sika to live independently in her forest HOME.