KOTA KINABALU: Neways International (Australia) Senior Diamond, Micko O’Byrne recently arrived here after travelling over 5,000 kilometers on his motorcycle from Perth to raise funds for the Bornean Sun Bear.
Byrne told the Borneo Post that he left Perth, Australia, on August 15, and travelled across Indonesia on his motorcycle.
While travelling, Byrne constantly updates his blog and tells about his trip across Borneo to reach here and attend the Neways International Diamond Adventure held on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s founder, Wong Siew Te, said during the interview that they needed to raise RM1.3 million.
The amount will be used to construct the second forest enclosure for the sun bears, a perimeter walkway and a water treatment plant.
He added that the aim of having the facilities was geared towards attracting visitors to visit the sun bear enclosures which hopefully, will turn the facility into one that was self-sustaining.
“We want to open it to the public and generate income…this year has been hard for us (to generate funding). It is not easy to attain research grants,” he said.
Since the facility opened five years ago, the centre has become the home of 28 sun bears, all of which were confiscated from people who kept them as pets, he said.
“With the second bear house, we will be able to take an additional 16 sun bears,” he said.
“People find the sun bears very cute when they are small and want to keep them as pets. They shoot the mother and take the cub. But the sun bears are only cute when they are small. By the time they are eight to nine months, they become difficult to look after. They have strong claws and jaws and are natural born destroyers…in the wild, they provide stability,” he said.
Unfortunately, once the sun bears have been kept as pets, it is very difficult to rehabilitate them back into the wild, said Wong.
“It is easier with the young sun bears, but the old ones don’t integrate into the wild as easily. The forest has become a foreign place for them.”