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Malaysian actress Joanna Bessey interviewed Siew Te Wong on the plights of sun bears at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The program was aired globally in BBC World News on April 4th 2009.
You can read more about the filming at http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/2008/11/06/sweat-and-smell-the-bears-is-good-to-be-back/
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 26 August 2009—Malaysia's wildlife authority has seized several protected animals and parts of wildlife including bear paws, in a string of raids across the country in the last two weeks.
On August 11, the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) found four bear paws in the cold room of a licensed trader’s store in the town of Kemaman in Terengganu, a state on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Two days later, officers found an elephant tooth in a home in Triang, Pahang. On 18 August, several species of wildlife illegally kept in a shop in Sri Kembangan, in Selangor were discovered. They included two Reticulated Pythons and a pair of Water Monitors.
They also found six Black-crowned Night-herons, three Painted Storks and two Thick-billed Green-pigeons.
No arrests were made in connection with the raids.
Meanwhile on 16 August, police nabbed a Thai poacher and recovered scales of a pangolin and six sacks of agarwood (gaharu).
The arrest was made in a forested area just off the Gerik-Jeli Highway in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex in the northern state of Perak, which shares a border with Thailand.
Police were acting on information provided by WWF’s Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU), which regularly patrols the area with other enforcement agencies.
The 55-year-old poacher from Chiang Rai was among a party of five poachers ambushed by police. Four others escaped, leaving behind a camp stocked with 30 kilogrammes of rice and other essentials – indicating they were planning long-term operations.
The man now faces charges under three separate laws. Gerik District Police Chief, Superintendent Mahad Nor bin Abdullah, confirmed that the poacher would be charged under Section Six of the Immigration Act, for illegally entering the country. The poacher will also face charges under Section 64 (2) (a) of the Protection of Wildlife Act for possession of the Pangolin scales and Section 15 of the Forestry Act, for collecting agarwood without a licence.
Cases involving foreign poachers like this one, in Perak’s forests, are becoming an issue of increasing concern, with several cases already documented so far this year.
These forests are home to many of the world’s most threatened mammals, including Sumatran Rhinos, Malayan Tigers and Asian Elephants.
The Belum-Temengor forest complex is also part of an area of global priority for Tiger conservation, yet it is one of the most accessible areas because of the 80-km long Gerik-Jeli highway that cuts across this landscape, providing hundreds of easy entry points for poachers.
“Together with Perhilitan and Police, the WPU have jointly-removed over 73 snares and arrested nine poachers in the last seven months in this very area,” said Ahmad Zafir, leader of the WPU. “Camera traps set up to capture wildlife pictures for research also often capture photographs of poachers.”
“Intelligence-led investigations are needed to remove the masterminds and backers behind the scourge of poaching and illegal trade,” says Chris R. Shepherd, Acting Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
“Ridding the forests of poachers is an on-going and important task, but it is essential to remove the main culprits behind the scenes – the big dealers running the show,” he added
Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, CEO of WWF-Malaysia, urged the government to form a multi-agency task force to address the problem.
“While Perhilitan, police and the WPU have been doing a good job so far, stopping armed poachers is dangerous work that needs the support of many agencies,” he said.
Perhilitan’s Legislation and Enforcement Division Director Saharudin Anan said the department would add three more posts along the country’s border with Thailand and would soon host the first bilateral meeting between the two countries, on wildlife enforcement issues.
Text by Jungle Bob (BATs volunteer)
After a few hiccups relating to helicopter availability and some frantic preparation by Sylvia Alisto and her team it finally came together. At 9.40 in the morning two helicopters arrived at Sepilok and the visit of one of the World’s most prominent former leaders was on.Tony Blair, together with his family and security staff, had arrived and began his visit to the Orang-utan Sanctuary and Sun Bear project (BSBCC).The visit began with a presentation on the Orang-utans and then a guided walk to Platform four where the party trekked along the boardwalk and enjoyed the attentions of the primates. Tony actually enjoyed the attention of a leech on his ankle which I assured him was ‘good luck’ and a souvenir of Sabah.
They then visited the juvenile Orang-utans in the nursery area. At about 1pm they were given a presentation on the Sun Bears by Wai Pak and myself. They were very interested and asked lots of questions. Cherie Blair (Tony’s wife) was particularly fascinated and keen to get lots of information about the bears.
Wai Pak was in full enthusiastic flow as he showed them the slide show and explained the habitat depletion, threats to the bears and how they live, eat and nest. Taking an opportunity not often presented I asked Tony if he wouldn’t mind signing a BSBCC Bats t-shirt for us to help with fund raising. He kindly agreed and wrote ‘Good Luck. ‘tis a worthy cause’ and signed his name.
The meeting was relaxed and informal and set the trend for the remainder of his visit. We walked as a group up to see the bears where they spent about half an hour asking more questions and seeing the bears up close.
Raleigh international staff and a team of young people were working nearby so he took some time out to chat to them and have his photo taken with them. He viewed the work completed so far and seemed very impressed at what the volunteers had achieved.
During his visit most of the volunteers were at lunch and were hugely disappointed to have missed it. However, his generosity was again evident whilst having his own lunch, and he agreed to leave it to come and speak to them. There was plenty of warm banter, interest and support given to the West Lancashire Scout group and Camps International team. Lots more photos were posed for and hands shaken. The smiling faces in the photos are testament to how much everyone enjoyed themselves.
I was very impressed with his enthusiasm and patience. This was a valuable visit for the purposes of the Sun Bear profile carried out by a genuine warm hearted and sociable former world leader and was enjoyed by everyone.
I received some feedback from their senior security officer after they had arrived back in KK. He said the ‘Blairs’ had had a ‘brilliant day’.I donated BSBCC T-shirts to Tony Blair, Cherie Blair and two of the children and Sylvia gave them some souvenirs of their visit. I will make sure that they also receive copies of the photographs taken on the day so that they remember us and perhaps they will take me up on my offer of getting one or more of their children to come and work for us as volunteer Bat’s!
Text by Ng Wai Pak
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We have 12 bears in the centre. However, we only have 3 exercise enclosures. I am sure you might ask about those bears that were not in the exercise enclosures, what they would have for enrichment.
For those who are still waiting their turn to be released to the exercise enclosure, keepers will let them have others kind of enrichment. Ice lolly with fruits inside is every bear’s favorite especially during the hot day time. They will lick it, dig it with claws, rub it over their head and body, and some even bring it back to their sleeping basket and enjoy it!
Thanks for Maria Trenary from Oakland Zoo as they have sent us some dozen of “Kong” toy. Kong is a very hard rubber toy that is specially made for animals to bite. You can put food inside it to make it more interesting and fun.
What our centre used to do is put in fruits like bananas, apples, dog food, honey, and sugar cane. Then we will put them into the refrigerator to make the food inside the Kong become harder and cool.
I have to tell you our bears love Kong. They will spend time to dig the food, and lick it until the very last bit of fruits with their long tongue! They are not let go the Kong even though they have finished the food inside. They just like to play with the empty Kong by throwing them like a baseball!
Other than that, we also hang tire in the bear cage. Tires are the bear’s toy that we can get free and it is durable. Our bears like to bite the tire, spin it, or even bang it on the wall! They also love to climb on it and swing themselves together with the tire.
You can tell that the bears like tires with this video above.
In my opinion, a successful enrichment is something that can attract our bears to spend their times and make them feel like they are not kept in a cage. As a keeper, I know it is challenging, but it is so rewarding to see them enjoy the enrichment.
Text by Ng Wai Pak
While we are waiting for the new bear house construction to be finished, the bears still have to keep in cages. Thus, to reduce the stress and boring level of our bears, enrichments are very important for them. Enrichment can be done in many ways which include physical construction, introducing new elements, foods, toys, arrangement of the facilities and cleanliness.
At the moment, our bear house has three exercise enclosures. Each of them was facilitated with various enrichments which includes heavy and hard wood logs, rock pool, water tank, dried leaves and decay wood with termites, to create a place that is as close as their natural habitat. All the bears will take turn to be released into the exercise enclosure in daily basis.
To ensure our bears are fully utilizing all the enrichments and learn or revise the basic skills such as forage, digging, destroying and climbing, foods is always the best incentives. Normally, we cut fruits into various sizes and hide them in different places in the exercise enclosures. We have to think creative and try to not put the food in the same place for the same bear. Bears are smart and they really do remember where to search for their favorite banana and papaya.
In the next article, I will still talk about the enrichments that we do in BSBCC. Hope to get your feed back and comments. Thank you.