Today, we were visited by a group of students from National University of Singapore. They were accompanied by their teacher, together with APE Malaysia coordinators. The students were given a short presentation on sun bears and BSBCC works before they had a tour at the observation platforms. At the platform, they were given a simple task where they need to observe the bear behaviours within a period time. They were really lucky today as it was raining heavily and they were able to observe many bears being active and playful in the rain! Thank you for spending the time for visiting us and we hope that they learn more about sun bears and its environment, and help us spread the words!
Today we celebrate our first Sun Bear Day 2017 and on the same time celebrating Dr. Wong Siew Te’s birthday. The objective of this event is to raise awareness on the smallest bear in the world , the sun bear. We invited students of Nature Club from four different schools in Sandakan district to participate in this event. Some activities were held such as Bear Observation, Canvas Painting, Free Airbrush Tattoo and we also set up a photo booth for public. Everyone enjoyed during this celebration, hopefully more participation will be involved in the future. Thank you for all the supports and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dr. Wong !
Text by Shauna Tay Photos by Sumira Muis, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
My name is Shauna, I'm 24, Malaysian and an aspiring conservationist! I first came to know about BSBCC 7 years ago when Dr.Wong took me in as a young eager volunteer wanting to get some experience in animal husbandry and conservation. It has been incredible coming back after so long; the centre is now open to the public, the staff team has grown ten-fold, the capacity for bears has increased and the centre as a whole has developed in every way possible.
As a volunteer, we are given the opportunity to work closely with the bear keeping team. They are so giving of their time, knowledge and expertise - you learn something new every day! It has been great getting to know the staff, bears, and the everyday routine of maintaining such a facility for rescued sun bears. These bears have such different personalities, backgrounds, and are all on their own journey through rehabilitation. As an individual who strives to have a future in conservation, volunteering here for two months gave me insight into what it takes to develop such a project. Understanding the bear care, animal welfare, marketing, education and management side of things was important and I'm thankful to BSBCC for providing this learning platform.
I was also fortunate enough to accompany their outreach team to local schools in the area, assisting them as they conducted sun bear awareness booths, presentations and games for students of varying ages. It is essential to spread awareness of the challenges that of sun bears face, and to encourage young people to appreciate and respect nature. This is key to changing perspectives and ultimately the reality of these magnificent bears and other wildlife.
While working with the bear keeping team, we made various enrichment structures for the bears like fire hose hammocks (a favourite), hanging wooden logs with holes for honey, fruity ice blocks (another favourite), banana and peanut better nest balls and much much more. We would dedicate our entire afternoon to making enrichment for the bears who were unable to go into the forest enclosures. This was a really great part of the programme and an everyday practice by the staff. In the last few weeks of my placement, the bears Simone and Along were undergoing fence training - which is a sizeable indoor training pen (looking out into a forest enclosure) with an electric fence. This is essential as they need to familiarise themselves with the fence before being able to enjoy the spacious forest enclosures. I was able to do the behaviour monitoring for them at this time, which was a great learning opportunity and a reminder of how overwhelming it can be for these bears to be given bigger spaces after living in small cages for most of their lives.
The beauty of volunteering at BSBCC is that your ideas and opinions are taken into account. Your questions are always encouraged and appreciated, replied to with a smile and good reasoning. This is what makes it such a welcoming place. Thank you again for the incredible experience! I miss my bear family and hope to come back soon with more expertise of my own so I can better contribute to the future of our bears.
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!
On the 24th February 2017, Dr. Wong Siew Te – Founder of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), was invited to join the first public screening and launching of the Frontier Borneo in Sunway Pyramid, Selangor, Malaysia.
After a few months exploring the jungles of Borneo, the 10-part natural history series narrated by Luke Evans was finally launched. The series was then digitally screened across Discovery Channel in Asia Pacific.
Q&A session with Dr. Wong Siew Te.
Malaysian artist Suzi Chua's masterpiece of "Debbie" was also displayed at the venue. The magnificent piece was a 5ft x 5ft acrylic on canvas art.
The stories of sun bears and BSBCC was featured in the series. Dr. Wong being one of the important person featured in the film had a Q & A session with the public during the launching. We would like to thank Discovery Channel for this opportunity to help us spread the words about our work.
Dr. Wong answering questions from the public after the screening.
Ms. Gloria, Environmental Education Executive explaining about the anatomy of a sun bear to the students.
Our outreach programme for the year 2017 kicked off in February where the team started to visit schools in the Sandakan District. We visited our first school, SK Seri Manis on the 13th February and continued to visit four more schools the following 4 days (See Table 1). More than 2,700 students and teachers were involved during the outreach programme week, learning about sun bears, orangutans, birds and protection status of wildlife in Sabah.
We invited our partners from Hutan-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme, Borneo Bird Club and Sabah Wildlife Department to join us in conducting various environmental education activities for the students. The activities held include colouring competition, talks and video show to promote awareness and appreciation to the wildlife of Sabah.
Our volunteer, Charina explaining to students about sun bears enrichment.
The students are excited and enjoyed participating in the activities. We were glad that these students had the opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation in Sabah and many were really keen to know more about mother nature.
Huge thanks to the support from the Sandakan Education Department, school principals, teachers as well as all students for participating in our activities.
Group photo with students and teachers from SMK Elopura II.
Table 1: List of schools visited in February 2017.
Taking photo with student at SMK Elopura II, Sandakan.
BSBCC continued to receive school groups throughout the year. This year, our first school group was SMK Tun Aminah, Johor, West Malaysia. The group visited the Centre on the 10th February. Before visiting the bears in the forest enclosure, the students were first given a short introduction about sun bears and BSBCC.
Sharon BSBCC’s Centre Coordinator giving a presentation about sun bears and BSBCC to students from SMK Tun Aminah.
The students and teachers then visited the observation platform to see the sun bears roaming in the forest enclosure. Environmental education will continue to be held to promote awareness especially among the younger generation.
Students observing the bears from the observation platform.
The Sun Bear Explorer Program book has been produced to support learning about sun bears, their habitat and the importance to protect them from their threats. This will aid in teaching materials for the education team to carry out activities for group visits and during outreach programmes.
The book project was initiated and designed by Dr. Dawn Tanner from theUniversity of Minnesota, in collaboration with Dr. Wong Siew Te, BSBCC CEO and Founder and translation assistance for the Malay version from Risnayati Lammu, BSBCC's Education Officer.
Thanks to the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and GEF Small Grants Programme for the funding support and everyone involved to make this book possible.
Check out the complete book on our website : (http://www.bsbcc.org.my/resources.html) for free download!
The International Eco-School Conference is an international initiative designed to guide schools in implementing a whole- school approach towards environmental and sustainability education. WWF invites schools from different places to join the Eco-schools Program. The conference participated by more than 100 students and 25 teachers from 27 schools across Malaysia and Thailand.
This Program was held in the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) , Sepilok Sabah on 13th – 17th December 2016. The activities included educational trips to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC), Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey.
One of the workshop during International Eco-School Conference in RDC, a woodcut printmaking from Pangrok Sulap. Pangrok Sulap is a Sabah based DIY art collective combining art and social message through woodprints.
Dr. Wong delivering his talk at the event.
The International Eco-School Conference 2016 was officially started with keynote speech by field experts and Eco-School presentations. Dr. Wong Siew Te (Founder and CEO at BSBCC) was also invited to give his talk at the conference. The talk from Dr. Wong is about wildlife and tourism in the forest ecosystem. Wildlife and tourism are important resources and forests are seen to have a significant role for tourism. The talk was great and really useful, hopefully the participants will gain interest and knowledge about the importance of conserving our forest as wildlife habitat which contributes to the economy to the country.
Dr. Wong receiving a token of appreciation from Thiagarajan Nadeson, Eco-Schools Programme Coordinator, Malaysia National Eco-Schools Committee Chairperson.
BSBCC was part of this program on the 14th-15th December. The education team had prepared a few activities for the students. The students had a presentation on sun bears and our Centre, they were then asked to complete some activities and answer quiz questions based on the information given to them and their own ideas.
Sharon giving a presentation about sun bear and the Centre.
After they had completed their tasks, we went through and talked about the answers together. The students enjoyed their activities and we look forward for more exciting activities on next International Eco-School Program.
Bellinda explaining the task that will be given to the participants.
Jeremy interacting with the participants at BSBCC enrichment corner.
The participants busy looking for answers from the interpretative signboards.
Nowadays, environmental education is becoming more important in increasing public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues. It provides the public with the necessary skills especially in decision making and taking responsible actions to keep the environment protected. We welcome all school groups and organizations to our Centre to learn about conserving the sun bears and their habitat.BSBCC received 14 group visits in November and December. As usual, they were given a brief presentation from our staff about sun bears and BSBCC's roles & efforts.
Sharon giving a brief explanation about sun bear physical characteristic to the students.
After that, they went up to the observation platforms to watch the bears roaming in the forest. It was interesting to watch the students amazed and happy to see the bears especially those who never seen them before. 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, and help us spread the word!
Sunny showing his strength to the students
Group photo with students and teachers from SK Cenderawasih.