Raleigh, formally known as Raleigh international, is a youth and education charity which gives people a chance to explore the world and by doing so discover their potential as leaders and members of a team working together to make a difference. Raleigh first began working in Malaysia in 1987 and since 2003 has been in Sabah, North Borneo.
This year has seen various projects developing across Sabah, with the help of Raleigh volunteers, including community-based projects, such as the installation of gravity water feed systems and the building of kindergartens. Raleigh also however, aims at enabling young people to get involved with environmental projects and as of this year this has included the development of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which Raleigh believes is the most exciting new conservation initiative in Borneo. This is a truly unique project and us volunteers on Raleigh’s third and final phase are excited about getting stuck into the work here.
The group consists of 11 venturers – Charlie, Emma, Ali, Bryony, Leo, James, Lottie, Vicki, Thijs, Andrew, Jack and 4 project managers – Jessie, Craig, Nicky and Phil. So far we have been cracking on with the “bear-proofing” of existing perimeter fences by installing metal rods into the ground. This process involves hammering 4ft iron rods securely into the ground so that the bears will not be able to dig under the fence as is naturally expected of them. We have also been dividing the enclosure into three separate areas to accommodate for the different behaviours and requirements of each bear. For example, bears of a similar age need to be kept together, more aggressive bears may need to be separated and the gender of the bears also has to be considered. Ultimately, Sun Bears potentially suited for re-release into the wild should be separated from those who would be incapable of surviving in the wild.
So far the project has been hard work, but exciting, as every day brings with it new experiences of all sorts. We’ve had encounters with the resident orang-utans of which there are two. One in particular has proved to be a great fan of relieving venturers of their water bottles and biscuits at break time. We’ve also had dealings with mischievous macaques, terrifying tarantulas and massive monitor lizards!!
There was excitement here at the BSBCC when Suria, a sun bear suffering with an injured paw, was deemed healthy enough to be moved to more comfortable surroundings after 3 months of recovery. The occasion was marked with a mutual sense of hope that the rehabilitation process of such bears will one day prove as successful as their neighbours at the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok.