Sun Bear Centre To Raise Funds, Calls For Public Support
SANDAKAN, June 27 (Bernama) -- The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) will hold a fundraising dinner to raise RM500,000 to partially fund the construction of a second bear house before it is opened to the public early next year.Chief executive officer and founder Wong Siew Te said part of the money raised will also be used to construct a one hectare enclosure for the new bear house and to meet operational costs for the year.
The fundraising dinner to be held on July 20 at the Hakka Association Hall here comes almost five years after a similar event in Kota Kinabalu raised RM1.3 million that was partly used for the construction of the first bear house.
Wong said this year's operational and construction costs run into RM2 million and despite the commitment of generous donors, it needs to meet shortfall in expenses.
"We appeal to Malaysians, especially the Sandakan business community to support this fundraiser. By attending the event, you will be able to better understand the significance of sun bears and the types of threats this species faces."
The BSBCC which started operation in 2008 with seven rescued sun bears currently provides refuge to 28 sun bears.
"It is the first and the only facility of its kind in the world and the only one that conduct rescue, education, research and rehabilitation. We should be proud that it is located in Malaysia, specifically in Sandakan," Wong said in a statement to announce the fund raising dinner, here today.
The BSBCC is located next to the world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and also close to the increasingly popular Rainforest Discovery Centre.
Habitat loss, poaching for parts used in traditional medicine and the pet trade are among key threats that have led to a 30 per cent decline of the sun bear population in the last three decades.
Sun bears, the smallest of the world's eight bear species, are found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.
The exact number of sun bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing to protect the species classified as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.
Sun bears are also classified as a 'Totally Protected Species' under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, providing it the same status as the Orang Utan and Sumatran Rhinoceros.
Prior to the establishement of BSBCC, sun bears were kept illegally as pets while confiscated bears were housed at a government facility.
The BSBCC provides care and the chance for sun bears to learn what it is like to live in the forest by accessing an attached natural forest within an enclosed area.
Wong said an observation platform and boardwalk were completed last year and that it was poised to become an important education and awareness facility, and could also serve as an ecotourism destination.
"However, we need a second bear house and enclosure to accommodate all the sun bears before we can officially open it. We also need to complete the visitor centre and educational exhibits."
Sime Darby Foundation, the Sabah government, Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, and several foreign organisations and zoos in the United States are among agencies that had contributed towards the development of BSBCC.
The fund raising dinner with the theme "Big Dreams, Little Bears" will include photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan.
Performers lined up include Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chaw @ Cao Ge, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends with Lina Teoh and Vincent Huang as masters of ceremony.
A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.
The event is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry with Sabah Hotel as the main sponsor.
The BSBCC was set up through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).