Text by Fiona McInally
'The volunteer placement at Sepilok in Borneo, is spilt into 4 rotations around the centre and my group were lucky enough to do the Jungle Trekking for our first rotation. Before we all started work, we had a talk from Wai Pak, who works for the BSBCC about the Sun Bears they have, which most of us had not heard about before , and we were told we had the opportunity to help at the BSBCC in the afternoon on the Jungle Trekking rotation. Myself and the other 2 girls in my group, Georgie and Kate, were really keen to get involved and help look after the Bears that we knew so little about.
It was quite a upsetting when we first went to see the Sun Bears, it is always sad to see animals in captivity when they should be in the wild, knowing many of them may have been mistreated and it was also sad to see that the BSBCC was in such need of upgrading. However, it was also really inspiring to see the work that the people at the BSBCC were doing to try and help the Sun Bears and improve their lives and also to hear about the plans for the new centre, fund raising for which was well underway.
In the morning of January 19, the staff from the Wildlife Department sent in a new bear to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Her name is Kuamut. She is a sub adult female sun bear captured in Kuamut area, a village near to Kinabatangan River in Sabah. Kuamut is another unfortunate sun bear that share similar story with other caged bears. She was kept as a pet as a small cub, with her mother probably being killed by poachers. When her size was getting bigger, stronger and more dangerous, the owner decided not to keep her any longer. The owner released her back to the forest (luckily not slaughter her for her body parts) but she kept coming back to the village because she was habituated to people and associated human with food. At the end, the villagers contacted the wildlife department, who confiscated the bear and sent her to our centre.
In my past three blog about ZACC, I posted a wall of logos on the generous donors and kind funding agencies who funded my works on sun bears over the last 10 years. I would like you to pay a little attention to a logo located at right center:
This logo belongs to Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Damansara (Bukit Damansara National Primary School) in Kuala Lumpur: http://www.skbd.edu.my/news.php. They are very special to me and sun bear. I would like recognize them because they are the only Malaysian source of funding I received from 1998- 2007. In 2005, the school raised RM1000 (about US$285) from primary school students for my doctorate study on sun bear in Sabah. Although the amount is not great compare to my other funds, I was and am very touched by their good acts and I still think this was the greatest fund I ever received because the fund come from my own country-Malaysia, and come from the future elites and leaders of the country. I see hope.
The good acts from Bukit Damansara National School for sun bear did not stopped in 2005. It moves on. In 2008, under the leadership of Md. Sook Pinn Chean and her team at the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Bukit Damansara National School launched “Save Our Sun Bear” campaign to raise awareness for sun bear conservation in the school and the community. From May to December 2008, the school has a series of activities to SAVE OUR SUN BEARS:
OK, start with ZACC. I really felt honored to be invited to this conference and gave a presentation about BSBCC: Hope for the Bornean Sun Bears. My presentation was scheduled on the second day. After listened to many great presentations and many great conservation efforts, I was humbled and shy to speak in front of the audience, because what I have doing for the past 10 years was studied sun bears and have not really help them on the ground yet. Anyway, I did deliver my presentation with full passion and enthusiasm with an optimistic heart. I know every good conservation project started with where I am now- a HOPE.
I HOPE one day, maybe few years from now, I can be invited again to ZACC conference again to share some of my success stories to conserve sun bears just like every body else who presented their great conservation works during the conference. That’s why I told the audience at the beginning of my talk that I am an optimistic person, I have high HOPE that we can help sun bears, and the sun bears will have HOPE, as long as we committed to what we are planning to do for them and HOPE that the supports from everyone in the audience can ongoing and even more. All start with HOPE.