Text By Lim Hui Wen
Photos By Seng Yen Wah
I am Hui Wen, a 19 year old Malaysian currently studying Anthropology at University College London (UCL) in the UK.
I learnt about BSBCC through the Roots & Shoots Malaysian Award program, endorsed by Jane Goodall, a program which encourages Malaysian Youth to connect to the environment through volunteering at various organizations. Previously, I volunteered at a turtle sanctuary at a small island called Lang Tengah off the East Coast of Malaysia, right next to Redang Island. Having enjoyed learning a lot about turtles and their environment, it piqued my interest in volunteering with other animals. Hence, for my next volunteering opportunity, out of the many organizations offered, I chose to volunteer at BSBCC and spend three weeks of my summer here in Sabah because I want to learn more about the sun bears life as well as how a conservation center functions. Right now, I am at the tail end of my three weeks here and so far my experience here has been phenomenal.
Just by volunteering here, my knowledge of the sun bears, their behaviour, and the conservation center now exceeds the informational plaques scattered around the visitor center. From the questions I have asked Dr Wong and the others working here, one of the many things I now know is the role of the government and the laws regarding sun bears and other endangered animals. On top of that, I also know the history and habits of some of the bears as well as their personality.
Volunteering here, I thought that I would only be doing some basic work such as working in the kitchen, cleaning the bear house, and making enrichment to entertain the bears. I never would have imagined that I will get the amazing opportunity to observe and assist in the health check-up of a sun bear, recording Jelita’s pulse, temperature and respiration, while the doctors clean a wound behind her ear.
Though I will be sad to leave the sun bears and the people here who have helped me learn the ropes and accompanied for the past few weeks, I will not be sad leaving the leeches behind! (I really hate leeches). This invaluable experience has allowed me to do things that I would have never seen myself doing – Jelita’s health check-up – but has more importantly reminded me to conserve and respect the environment we live in, as well as to strive and protect the environment and the creatures that live in and rely on it.