Every great project in the world starts from a dream. For me, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was a dream that I dreamed some 6 years ago after seeing so many captive sun bears suffering in small cages and knowing most people were completely naïve and clueless about their plights or anything about this bear. At first it seems like a mission impossible to raise such a huge amount of money for a species that are so little known and the global economic crisis. The key successes to kick start this project in the first place was because of the immense supports from Cynthia Ong and Nancy Abraham from LEAP, and Dr. Laurentius Ambu and Datuk Sam Manan, Directors of Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, respectively. Without their help and supports in the first place, this project will not go anywhere.
The next step of the project was to strategize ways to raise fund. Dividing the construction of the centre into 3 phases would speed up the project, at least, we could improve the livelihood of the captive bears without a long waiting to raise the entire fund needed: Phase 1 be the construction of the first Bear House 1 and the 4 forest enclosures; Phase 2 be the construction of visitor gallery, observation platform and renovating the past of existing building as office ; and finally, Phase 3 as the construction of the second Bear House 2 and additional 4 forest enclosures.
After 2 years of planning, fund raising, and constructing, Phase 1 is finally completed on March 2010. The 12 sun bears we had currently will be moved to the new bear house starting on April. This is an exited moment that everyone, including the sun bears, have been long waiting for. For me, this is a very important accomplishment and also the beginning of my new career. For the captive sun bears, the moment when they finally re-united with the forest where they truly belong, means the beginning of a new era for sun bear conservation. From now on, they can re-experience what was long missing in their life: touching the soil, feeling the trees, and getting wet by the tropical rain. In the same time, we could learn more about them, care more about them, and provide more helps to them.
The completion of Phase 1 also means the beginning of Phase 2. Phase 2 hold the key for the success of the entire project because only with the completion of the Phase 2 that we could open the facility for the public and visitors to learn more about sun bear and have more personal experience with them. At the same time, we could also generate revenue from ticketing and collect donation to make our project self sustain and viable.
Again, back to the dream. Now the dream of Phase 1 has completed, and the dream of getting Phase 2 done is just begun.
Thank you everyone for being with us all these time to give hands and supports when we needed most. This project is belongs to all of us who shared the same dream – the dream of providing the unfortunate captive sun bears a better home, the dream of learning more about this little known species, and the dream of helping the sun bears from disappearing from SE Asia.
So, to all sun bear lovers and supporters, this is our plan for Phase 2 of the BSBCC:
Dr Audrey Low interviews Lesley Small, 'Senior Keeper, Carnivores', at Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo. Director, Editor - Howard Jackson.
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Leslie Small, is a very special animal keeper from Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia. She has been taking care of the two sun bears in the zoo for many years. Leslie contacted me about sun bear husbandry questions many years ago and we stay communicated regularly there after. Believe me or not, although years of communication, this is the first time that I see Leslie and hear her voice. However, this is all not important. What is important is Leslie has a special heart for sun bears, the species that she cares for all these years. She has help and tries hard to help us fund raising and help raise awareness about sun bears.
Thank you Leslie! I hope I can meet you in person one day and give you many big hugs!
After 8 months of non-stop of hardwork under hot tropical sun and pouring rainforest’s rain by the construction workers, volunteers, and supervision of the contractors and architects, the first Bear House and the 4 forested enclosures of BSBCC are finally done! This is the first achievement of BSBCC and I would like to thank everyone who has help us in so many ways to raise fund, raise awareness, spread the words of our cause, help us taking care of the bears, and also physically build the bear house and the forest enclosure.
With the completion of Phase 1, we are also entering Phase 2, which, at this point still lack of funding to start the construction. However, the completion of the bear house means a lot to the captive sun bears currently under our care because they can finally have a better living environment with access to natural forest. In addition, with the extra cages, we can start rescue the other captive sun bears across the state and bring them into our care.
It has been 6 years since Dr Sen Nathan and I talking about this project. Six year is a long time for us to come this far and six years is a long time for the bears to wait for the new home. I feel sorry that these bears have to wait for so long for a better home. However, I have tried very hard to make this project come this far, again, thanks to many people, especially Cynthia Ong and Nancy Abraham, who give us a lot of supports and helps.
Without your help, this project would not come this far.
Without your support, the construction of this bear house would not have been completed.
March 22nd is the official “hand back over” day of the buildings from the contractor to BSBCC, the opposite of the “hand over” from us to the contractor to start building some 8 months ago. On this day, BSBCC will move into a new era by helping individual sun bears, and later, expend the helps to their population in the wild and finally the species.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the new bear house of BSBCC!
Six of the world’s eight species of bears are listed as threatened, and one common threat is the trade in body parts such as gall bladders, which can command high prices in black markets in places like China, Japan and Thailand. The six species are the giant panda of China, the Asiatic black bear, the sloth bear on the Indian subcontinent, the Andean bear in South America, the polar bear of Arctic areas, and the sun bear of Southeast Asia.
The sun bear, the world's smallest bear, was only added to that list in 2007 by experts with the IUCN conservation union, who cited poaching and deforestation in its habitat stretching from India to Indonesia.
"We estimate that sun bears have declined by at least 30 percent over the past 30 years and continue to decline at this rate," says Rob Steinmetz, a bear expert with the IUCN.
Some 10,000 sun bears are probably left, adds Dave Garshelis, co-chair of the IUCN bear specialist group.
Weighing between 90 and 130 pounds, the sun bear is hunted for its bitter, green bile, which has long been used by Chinese traditional medicine practitioners to treat eye, liver and other ailments. Bear paws are also consumed as a delicacy.
Another threat comes from loggers, who are destroying the sun bear's habitat. Thailand is the only country to have effectively banned logging and enforced laws against poaching, allowing the sun bear population to remain stable there, Garshelis says.
Ironically, experts are finding medical benefits from acid found in the gall bladders of some species such as polar and black bears. "When produced in a non-invasive and ethically acceptable way, without pushing already threatened species further towards extinction, these substances are of great value to medicine," the IUCN states.
The acid is used "to prevent the buildup of bile during pregnancy; dissolve certain kinds of gallstones; and prolong the life of patients with a specific kind of liver disease, known as primary biliary cirrhosis, giving them more time to find a liver transplant," the IUCN notes.
Sources: IUCN, CITES, TRAFFIC, WWF, WildlifeDirect; reporting by msnbc.com's Miguel Llanos
Ursa Freedom Project member Maren Dallman will support Ursa Freedom Project’s charity cause by raising money for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre when she races in the Reading Half Marathon in Berkshire, England on Sunday, March 21. Maren said she is supporting the sun bears because “this little bear is nearly as close to extinction as the panda but hardly anyone knows of their existence. The sooner the centre is completed the better for the bears, and I want to do what I can to help. ”
Maren’s goal is to raise $2 per mile (13 miles), and another $1 per mile if she beats her personal record of 1hr 59mins. Let’s help her reach her charity goal to save the sun bears.
Please visit Maren UFP member page at http://ursafreedomproject.ning.com/profile/MarenDallmann?xg_source=profiles_memberList
I am running for the Sun Bears on March 21 and want to raise as much as possible. As you know the money is desperately needed to complete the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and anything you can afford would be much appreciated.
My aim for the race is to beat my personal best for a half marathon of 1 hour 59 minutes. Maybe you could pledge an additional amount if I achieve this :-)
Donations can be made via facebook causes:
or on the BSBCC site:
It would be nice to know how much I have raised, so maybe you could just send me a brief message. Thank you so much on behalf of the sun bears!!!!
Like Anna, Julie, and many other who take real action to run for sun bear, Maren’s action is really touching to me. I hope there is a way to tell the sun bears at BSBCC that someone like Maren is working hard to fund raise for them. Thank you Maren. I hope many people will show their help and donate to our course!
Maren has take action to make a difference, how about you? Can you help?
Ursa Freedom Project is a global action network of passionate people working to prevent bears from going extinct.. It is a new independent project driven by people who are passionate about conserving bears and their habitat.
Founded last year by Jeanette McDermott, Ursa Freedom Project’s mission is to collaborate with others to give voice to the world’s bears through story and art so they may grow into a larger collective destiny with humans to heal their circumstances.
Six of the world’s eight bear species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activities. Even "least concern" species such as the brown bear are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. Many threats face each bear species, making strategies for local conservation necessary.
UFP collaborates with organizations and individuals to assist on-the-ground conservation efforts in local communities. We enfold bears into story so their voice is heard and validated -- an act that allows bears to be received into culture and their lives transformed through acceptance. UFP advocates to conserve bears and their habitat and to free bears from persecution and exploitation by unleashing the power of knowledge and collective visualization to open hearts to understanding, wisdom, compassion and tolerance.
This year Ursa Freedom Project has made the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre its charity cause for 2010, with a goal to focus attention on the species and raise funds to change its circumstance. On behalf of BSBCC, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ursa Freedom Project, especially Jeanette, for their helps and support sun bear and BSBCC.
Please visit http://ursafreedomproject.ning.com/ and be part of the family of Ursa Freedom Project. This is the site where individuals can combine efforts to make a difference for bears and their habitat. This is a very simple action where anyone can participate and get involve to save bears and to help mother nature for a better tomorrow.
Please join Ursa Freedom Project! We need you!