It is all happening. Both of our big boys are enjoying their forest enclosure. All the hard works from every one finally pay off by seeing them in the forest enclosure. This is their story... [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/U4f102762CI" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
It was a rainy afternoon. David, Daniel and I were waiting our bear house for the rain to stop so that we could go out for lunch. The waiting gave us more opportunity to observe the bears and film this video clip.
Sun bear is the most arboreal bear species. In this clips, you will see how well our rescued sun bears climbed and at the same time play fight with others. They are good on balancing themselves on the thin branches! As indicated by the title of this video, "Primate or Bear?" they really look a lot like primates who adapt an arboreal lifestyle!
There are four bears in this video: Keningau, Tokob, Susie and Manis. We call this group as the adult female group. They live together in the four connected bear dens in our new bear house. However, it is common to see them all gather in one den playing and socializing, just like what you see in this video.
We are so glad to see them living together in a harmony way. In the wild, sun bear live a solitary lifestyle because of food difficult to find, thus competitions among bears are always high. However, finding food is not an issue for these bears under our care. We learn that they are actually quite social and like to interact with each other. We found out that they are less stress after spending more time interacting with each other. Manis used to have very bad pacing behavior by pacing in a circle and Takob used to be aggressive to people and easily became stressful. Both of them show a great improvement in their behavior: Manis hardly pace in circle and Takob is less aggressive compare to the time when they were kept alone.
We are still fixing the damage fence in our forest enclosures. We really hope the fence will be ready soon so that they can enjoy the forest enclosure again.
The Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC visited the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre yesterday an . Her visit was welcome by the Sabah Minister of Tourism, Culture & Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.
Her Excellency arrived at 3 pm and went straight to the orang utan feeding platform. Right after that, her Excellency came to our bear centre. I feel privileged to given the chance to introduce the Malayan Sun Bear to the governor.
We hope in the future, all of our visitors can spend a good time learning the plights of the sun bear and observing the bears at the viewing platform just like the Orang Utan Rehab Centre. We hope our second phase construction can start as soon as possible. Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC yesterday led the Sandakan Day Memorial Service in honour of prisoners of war who perished in the infamous death marches from Sandakan to Ranau during the World War Two. http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/41553
Last month was a busy but a fruitful month for all of us in BSBCC. At first we have Ah Lun and Julaini come to our centre. Then, we accepted Kudat and Panda. We were pretty much nonstop on rescuing these caged sun bears until recently we having another three bears which add up to 19 bears in our centre! The three latest rescued sun bears I mentioned above are Gutuk, Linggam and Toby. They are all males but come from three different age group: old, mature and young cub. Gutuk and Linggam used to house at our facility (the old bear house at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre) before BSBCC was set up in 2008. They were sent to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park few years ago due to lack of adequate space and resources to taking care of more bears. However, things are different after the setting up of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. With the establishment of BSBCC, we have our state of the art new bears house and another state of the art forest enclosure. This is time to rescue more caged sun bears and let them have a better living environment especially in the forest enclosure.
As for Toby, he was just rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department recently from a pet owner and was housed in Lok Kawi Zoo temporary before he was sent to us. Now Toby is the youngest bear in our centre!
Within a month, BSBCC's resident bears increased from 12 to 19 bears. For me, this does not increase our burdens, but a chance for us to keep our promise to provide a better living condition to those captive sun bears. This is just the beginning for BSBCC, its still a long way to free our bears and let them live in their nature home. So, let’s us work together and witness our growth!
I am not sure you still remember I posted an article about 2 “Panda” that live in a mini zoo in Kudat, Northern Sabah in this blog last year. It is such a shame that my country men name these two Malayan sun bears as "Panda!". Besides that, these two sun bears were kept in a small cemented floor cage without any enrichment and display them to the public to attract more visitors to the zoo. That was a very typical example that wildlife is being manipulated and explioted in this part of the world.
"Panda" in a privite mini zoo in Sabah.
Fortunately, the newly formed Wildlife Rescue Unit from Sabah Wildlife Department carried out an operation to confiscate these two illegal kept sun bears last month and sent to BSBCC. BSBCC promised to give these two rescued “Panda” a new life and a chance to go back to their real home.
According to the rescue report, two sun bears were still infants when they arrived at the local mini zoo in 2008. They were both came from Tawau region, southeastern Sabah, presented as gifts to the zoo owner (probably "gift" with a lot of money involved!"). The owner calls both of them as “Big Big”, with a sign board written as “panda” in English and Chinese. Since then, “Panda” were the main attraction of the zoo. The local is just need to pay as low as RM5 (US$1.50) for adult, and RM3 (US$1.00) for children to visit the zoo.
These two bears are now staying at our quarantine area in the old bear house. They were very tame and get used to the new environment very fast. In their file, I name the male bear as "Kudat", and the female as "Panda". Both of them are quite healthy and bigger size compare to other bears with the same age in our centre. This might due to their heavy meat consumption (they were fed a chicken each day!) by their previous owner at the mini zoo. Once they pass the quarantine period, Kudat and Panda will be transfer to the new bear house and join with others. I sincerely hope Kudat and Panda's sad story will give our people a clear message: it is not right to exploit wildlife to just amuse our own kind!
Our forest enclosures for the rescued sun bears are the best as far as for sun bear habitat is concern because the enclosures are build inside a natural primary rainforest. The forest is undisturbed and pristine, with tall and huge trees and fills with natural life. We are proud of our forest enclosures, thanks to the Sabah Forestry Department who provide us with this piece of forested land for the rescued sun bears. These enclosures are perfect for sun bears to roam where they feel just like home. However, the only flaw about this enclosure is that we are putting a man-made fence in the forest to create the enclosure.
This is why...
"Forest gap" is a common term in the ecology in Bornean rainforest. It is an important process in the forest ecosystem where tall trees fall down due to severe wind throw or tree mortality. It is also cause by severe drought that forces some trees to drop their branches in order to preserve water loss from evaporation from leaves and branches. Well, this is exactly what happened last week in our forest enclosure: forest gap formation! A tall dead tree fall down after a severe windthrow and damaged the fence between Pen 1 and Pen 2. Now we have to close both of these two pens until we repair the broken fence on the 4th month after the construction of the fence. This is an unexpected event and unexpected cost for us to fix the fence. We need help to raise fund to fix fence. Please help us spread the words and donate at http://www.leapspiral.org/content/support_leap.php to make your donation to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
A dead tall tree fall down last week and damaged the fence between Pen 1 and 2 of our forest enclosure.
Our Volunteering Experience at BSBCC – “we can’t wait for the day to come when the first bear gets released into the wild!”
Twelve curious, excited and eager faces were staring at myself (Joyce) and Katy - volunteer Project Managers for Raleigh, on the 8th of July when we finally arrived at Mile 14 in Sepilok. For most of us, it had taken 14.5 hours by airplane and 6 hours by bus to get here.
Where are the sun bears? When will we start working at the BSBCC? The 12 Raleigh volunteer venturers had received a brief on the BSBCC and the volunteer work to be carried out, but the majority had never heard nor seen this special bear species before joining Raleigh. However, knowing very little about the sun bears did not stop the young Raleigh venturers embracing and committing themselves to the construction work at the BSBCC for the next 2.5 weeks. And the goal: to build the foundations of a boardwalk around the sun bear enclosure to provide easier access for the keepers at BSBCC.
From the left (back row): Dean Izzudin, Stephen Nunes, Alexandra Gell, Charlotte Grimstone, Katy McDonald, Sarah Luton, Arina Latif. In the front from the left: Finlay Macleod, Stephen Longfellow, Elizabeth Bird, Phillip Ly, Joyce Malmo and Danielle Lightfood.
Before the 12 enthusiastic venturers and impatient Katy and I could deploy on the work site, a few things had to be organized first. On the top of our list was to settle into our new home: JUNGLE CAMP, located in the beautiful Bornean rain forest approx. 3 km from the BSBCC. It welcomes you with an open longhouse with 15 comfortable bashers, a small community area, and three outdoor showers and a long drop. Most importantly, it is surrounded by wildlife and you wake up to the sounds of the jungle. People still find it strange that we would live in the jungle whilst there are plenty of resorts in Sepilok, however there is no place like jungle camp.
We were welcomed by Wai Pak at the BSBCC on the 9th of July for a presentation. He gave us an introduction about the sun bears, which none of us will easily forget. With a greater understanding about the threats these special bears are facing and being shocked by the captivity and treatment some of these sun bears have experienced in their lives, we couldn’t wait to go on a tour to the sun bear house. For most of us, it would be the first time we had ever seen a sun bear. It was amazing to step into the newly opened sun bear house. Some of the bears were playing around while others were having an early afternoon nap. We were very impressed with the new sun bear house. It has high ceilings, is very spacious and plenty of day light can enter into the house.
Do they really bark? Are they social animals or do they live alone? How often do they reproduce and how many cubs can a female carry? The questions were vast and the day ended with a group of very motivated venturers and 2 Project Managers eager to start work on the 10th of July.
The first week at BSBCC consisted of clearing and sorting out wood around the enclosure. Our lunch breaks on the jetty next to the Orang-utan nursery became one of the main highlights of the day. On days when the amazing “man of the forest” appeared just across the jetty to climb into the trees, big gazing eyes and a sudden silence would appear among us. We sometimes felt that we were in a “BBC open air documentary”. All that was missing was the voice of David Attenborough.
We could also hear the barking sound from the sun bears from time to time. Though, the bears have the opportunity to go outside every day, there was only a few days while we were there that a sun bear took a step outside of their newly opened sun bear house. Embracing the opportunity to be in the wild, where they belong, seemed like taking a big step into the unknown for them. This again shows how important the BSBCC is and we can’t wait for the day to come when the first sun bear is to be released into the wild. The second week at BSBCC consisted of sweat and tears. We had started drilling and bolting together the foundation for the boardwalk. Unfortunately, the drill pieces we had were a bit worn out and it took us hours to drill just a couple of holes through the tough iron wood. If we continued like this, it would take us several weeks to complete the boardwalk. Time we didn’t have. Luckily, Bob Hartley and Wai Pak came to our rescue and helped us getting some new sharp pieces from the local hardware store. We were back on track again!
It made a world of difference to Sarah Luton and Stephen Nunes with the new drill pieces in place!
Our last week at BSBCC flew by so smoothly. We had managed to lay most of the foundations for the boardwalk, but we were all curious to see what the completed boardwalk would look like once the next Raleigh group had finished it. So, we decided to make a prototype boardwalk and on Wednesday the 21st of July, we had our prototype boardwalk ceremony!
What an amazing feeling to hammer in the last nail into the prototype boardwalk.
It was sad to leave BSBCC on the 27th of July, but what an amazing time we have had at BSBCC. We have learned so much about the sun bears and again we can’t wait for the day to arrive when the first BSBCC sun bear will be released into the wild. We would like to thank Wai Pak and Bob Hartley for your support during our first phase.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 5 August 2010—Malaysia’s Parliament this week passed the country’s tough new Wildlife Conservation Bill 2010 which provides significantly higher penalties and mandatory jail terms for wildlife crime. The new law, expected to come into force by the end of this year, will replace the 38-year-old Protection of Wild Life Act.
The highest penalty in the existing Act is a maximum fine of RM15,000 (USD4,700) or five years jail, or both, for hunting a Sumatran Rhino, Tiger or Clouded Leopard.
Under the newly passed law, the same offence carries a minimum fine of RM100,000 (USD 31,600), and a jail term not exceeding five years.
It also provides for minimum fines, a mandatory jail sentence for setting snares and closes loopholes by providing penalties for products claiming to contain parts of protected species or its derivative, and preventing zoos from operating without a permit.
The Bill widens the list of agencies empowered to enforce wildlife laws by including Police and Customs officers, and it protects more species of wildlife. Those convicted of a wildlife crime under the new law will be barred from holding any license, permit or special permit for five years from the commencement of a case.
Illegal trade in key species such as pangolins and monitor lizards, have also been singled out for tougher penalties.
“Finally, agencies have a solid wildlife law that they can wield against poachers and smugglers who have had little to fear from the paltry fines and jail sentences of the past,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Director Dr William Schaedla. “TRAFFIC Southeast Asia would like to congratulate the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, as well as the Department of Wildlife and National Parks on the passing of the Bill.
“The new law has given Malaysia the means and the opportunity drive home the message that it is serious about curbing this menace.
“So we hope the new law will be the catalyst for an all out war against wildlife crime and that it will result in more prosecution of such criminals in the courts,” he said.
The new Bill received widespread support from the public with many writing to their Members of Parliament asking them to support it when it was being debated. Among them were the thousands who also signed a petition last year seeking better protection for Malaysia’s wildlife. The Bill aims to protect domestic wildlife. This June, Malaysia’s International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 came into force. Two women found guilty of attempting to smuggle tortoises from Madagascar into the country became the first to be convicted under the Act and were each sentenced to a year in jail.