Today, BSBCC was visited by a total of 25 children from Tadika KEMAS Kg. Usaha Jaya, accompanied by their teachers and parents. Before they went to the observation platform, they were introduced to the sun bear and safety rules. While on the observation platform, the children were assigned to observe the forest surroundings and see the sun bears roaming in the forest enclosures. They seemed to be having a good time exploring the forest and seeing other wild animals. Hopefully the children will gain new knowledge about sun bears and help spread awareness among their friends and family.
#bsbcc #schoolvisit #sunbear #conservation
Text and Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
Finally it’s Betung, Itam and Kipaku’s forest day out! After passing fence training, it is time for our three babies to be let out into the forest enclosure. The process started with letting them out individually first, then all together. Words cannot describe how excited we are to see them go out into the forest they deserve.
Kipaku was first to be let out alone in the forest enclosure. Our keepers placed a trail of his favorite foods on the ramp that lead into the forest. Once the guillotine door was opened, Kipaku was a little weary to exit at first but eventually followed the sweet smell of honey, peanut butter and marshmallows to the ramp. We watched in excitement as he started exploring his natural environment. However, he couldn’t help his curious self and got too close to the electric fence. Poor Kipaku got shocked and ran away grumbling and growling. He eventually calmed down but continued grumbling at the keepers. It was like he was complaining to them! Kipaku is naturally a forest lover – he loves to climb, dig and explore. He is a great explorer and show many natural bear behaviors.
Itam, compared to Kipaku and Betung, did not have the chance to be walked in forest as a cub so it took her a few days to build up the courage to exit the cage and go out into the enclosure. Eventually, we decided that she just needed a little support from her best friend Kipaku. Itam followed him and started copying everything he did! She would climb the same trees he would and dig where he dug. It is always a joy to see the friendship between these two bears. After a few days, we see Itam gaining the confidence to be the independent bear she should be in the forest. She, like Kipaku, also enjoys climbing, digging and exploring!
Betung absolutely loved being outside. She did not take long to go down to the forest ground and start exploring the enclosure. She was quite weary of the keepers observing her around the enclosure and wouldn’t come too close to the fence. However, she still enjoyed herself digging up bugs from dead logs and playing with the leaves on her own. She is always climbing up the highest and would stay up there playing with the tree branches and leaves. Betung is also a natural in the forest like her two other friends!
It was a fun sight to see all three being released together. Itam and Kipaku stuck close to each other with Itam never leaving Kipaku’s side. Betung, being the grumpy one, would get mad and bark at the other two when they would try to take her food. Eventually, they were all playing with each other in the forest enclosure. To give them this opportunity to be the bears they should be is very rewarding and a fulfilling feeling. Kukuton is still currently undergoing fence training but hopefully soon he can be united with the rest of the gang.
We would like to give a big thank you to Hasanah Foundation for their continuous support of our bear rehabilitation program. With this help Betung, Itam and Kipaku can finally enjoy their forest day out!
On the 9th to 12th January 2023, BSBCC organised an outreach programme schools and village community in the Kinabatangan District. This programme aims to raise awareness on the wildlife conservation and addressing few issues concerning the community members related to wildlife targeting 3 primary schools (SK Tidung, SK Ladang Tomanggong, and SK Litang) and a community village (Kg. Dagat).
BSBCC invited Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre representing Sabah Wildlife Department and few NGOs; WWF-Malaysia, Seratu Aatai and Orangutan Appeal UK as participants to the programme, which was welcomed warmly by the schools and the village. A variety of activities were done to attract the students, which to our surprise, were already well established in understanding wildlife conservation.
Special thanks to all participating departments and NGOs for making this programme a success. The organiser was also in debt to the management of Tomanggong Estate of Hap Seng Plantation for accommodating our group while carrying out the programme. We hope more programme like this can be done to get more people to know our wildlife and support their conservation effort.
We are delighted to welcome the first group visit in 2023 from the preschool of SK Paris 3 today. There are 29 kindergarten students, accompanied by their teachers and parents. They were given an introduction to sun bears and safety rules, and later they were brought to the observation platforms to see the bears roaming in the forest enclosure. Each of them is given a worksheet activity, and they need to observe and spot the animals in the forest other than sun bears.
They seemed to enjoy exploring the forest while doing their worksheet activity. Hopefully the children can gain new knowledge about sun bears and help us spread awareness to their friends and family.
#bsbcc #schoolvisit #sunbear #conservation
Text by Dr Yeoh Boon Nie
Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
BSBCC started 2022 with the arrival of RESCUE-66 Kukuton, a 7-year-old male sun bear that weighed a mere 19kg. In addition to his small body size, Kukuton had many self-directed stereotypic behaviors. Fortunately, his life turned out better after befriending Kipaku, Betung and Itam in BSBCC. At the second half of the year, a female juvenile sun bear RESCUE-67 Rudy arrived at BSBCC. A big contrast to Kuktuton whereby Rudy is a healthy, playful, and energetic juvenile bear and her exciting rehabilitation program will kickstart in 2023.
Our sun bear cubs Kipaku, Itam and Betung are making great progress from fence training to the release into the forest enclosure. This is one big achievement for the cubs venturing the forest life.
The reintroduction of a 6-year-old female sun bear Wawa, was another highlight of the year. From the pre-release recce, reintroduction, ground truthing survey, trap and translocation, and post-release monitoring, every operation was meaningful. The mighty Wawa deserves to live in the wild where she belongs.
The saddest moment in 2022 was to announce the death of our dearest captive-born cub Luna on the 19th September. We are touched by the support and understanding from all BSBCC supporters. Dearest Luna, you are the brightest star in the sky. We thank you for coming into our lives.
When traveling internationally was finally safe and allowed, we were grateful to host Dr. Cedric Tutt (Cape Animal Dentistry Service, South Africa), Dr. Serena (Wildlife Asia Veterinary Services, Singapore), Dr. Reza (Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah), and Dr. Nabila (Sabah Wildlife Department) in collaboration to provide advanced dental treatment to eight captive sun bears and one orangutan. Such collaboration is wonderful for the sake of animals’ welfare.
We have also started to receive many volunteers and interns. To every single person, our Bear Care team are truly grateful for the time and effort you have given to learn more about sun bears. Thank you for all for your hard work participating in husbandry and enrichment. We know that it is hard work and we would like to congratulate each one of you. You guys really make a difference to the welfare of our smallest bear species!
2022 was a convalescence year from the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us a hard lesson about One Health. None of us can escape from the punishment when one key component in this universe goes wrong. We are truly grateful to the Yayasan Hasanah for the continuous support of BSBCC conservation work since the pandemic started.
Our new year’s wish is simple – for the improvement of all sun bears’ wellbeing. May 2023 be kind to our 30-year-old Amaco who has started to show geriatric signs and Rungus who is suffering from neurological symptoms. We are thrilled about the forest adventure that is waiting for Sika, Rudy, Kipaku, Itam, Betung and Kukuton. We look forward to the Tabin Sun Bear Project which will enhance our understanding of the species in-situ. There are many more exciting projects on BSBCC’s 2023-to-do list. Let’s hope for a blessed 2023 and strive for the best!