Text and photos by Chiew Lin May
Bongkud has another new buddy and playmate, Rungus. Rungus is a 5 year old sub adult female. Rungus’ name is the name of an ethnic group who live in the Kudat district of Sabah. She was kept at the Victory Mini Zoo Farm in Kudat, Northern Sabah and arrived at BSBCC on the 12th November 2010.
On the 26th February 2013, Bongkud was integrated with Rungus. Once the gate was opened Rungus went into the next cage where Bongkud was located. Rungus sniffed Bongkud and was very curious. After two minutes, both started to play fight together!! Bongkud has a smaller body compared to Rungus, but this was not a problem for Bongkud and she got on very well with her new friend. Both of them kept chasing each other around and standing up on both hind legs before rolling together to show who has more strength. Their claws and canines were also shown. Tired from play fighting, both had a rest and were gasping for breath. Sometimes Bongkud would climb up high to avoid Rungus who was biting her on the neck. It was very interesting when they were play fighting inside the basket for about thirty minutes. Rungus was always looking very cool and peaceful. At the end of the day, the integration was a great success. Rungus was the one who showed the most dominance.
Bongkud and Rungus will integrate for two to three hours. As usual, both of the sun bears will play fight, chase each other, roll and climb around together. So far their interactions are positive and finally they are become good playmates.
These are the pictures that show how Bongkud and Rungus play fight.
Text and photos by Chiew Lin May
Julaini, a 4 year old sub adult male, was named after the head welder who constructed the new bear house. Julaini came to the centre from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo on the 3rd July 2010. Julaini has a cataract problem, which has resulted in a white dot on his left eye.
Bongkud, a 2 year old sub adult female, was named after the village where she was rescued in Ranau, Sabah. She arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) last year on the 19th June 2012.
Julaini started integrating with Bongkud on the 25th February 2013 at 2.44 pm. Once the gate was opened, Julaini went into the next cage where Bongkud was located. Julaini initiated play fighting and started to sniff Bongkud’s body and was very curious about her. They gently touched and sniffed the face and neck of each other using their mouth and nose. Once play-fighting began, both sun bears stood on their hind legs and tried to push each other over with their strong paws. However, Bongkud being a little too playful started to bite Julaini. Julaini bite Bongkud back and he started asserting his dominance by pinning Bongkud on the ground. Before long though, they were rolling, chasing, play fighting and climbing around together. There was no barking or huffing sounds happening when they were play fighting, however, they did bare their claws and canine teeth. After a few minutes together they had already started to accept each other.
There was a good deal of mutual sniffing and playing together. They spent much time playing, chasing and resting. They would often try and guess the other's mood before continuing to play fight!!
Sometimes they continued to play until they were both very tired and then they would rest on the ground. At one point Julaini wanted to rest and eat some fruit but Bongkud still wanted to continue play fighting. However, Julaini made it clear by making some warning sounds that he was not interested in playing first and continued to eat and forage. Bongkud got the message and left Julaini alone. Their play fighting though was mostly very gentle. Both of the sun bears did not show any signs of aggression. At the end of the day the integration was going well and a great success. But, Julaini was definitely showing dominance over Bongkud.
For the rest of their first week together they integrated well and no aggression was noted. After all, Bongkud now has a new friend and playmate and is getting on very well with Julaini!!
At the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), all confiscated orphaned sun bears arriving at the centre must undergo electric fence training before they can be released into the BSBCC’s forest enclosure. Entering the forest enclosure is a very important phase for these bears, as they take their first steps onto the forest floor, often after spending many years in cages.
Some of the bears may take only one day to enter the forest, whereas some may take one week and others one month or more before they put all four of their feet onto the soil.
On 5th March 2013, the door that connects our BSBCC bear house to the forest enclosure was opened to let the sub-adult sun bear group consisting of - Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini access to the forest.
As expected, the "Group Leader" Natalie was the first one to lead the group to explore the conditions around the newly opened door. However, none of the bears stepped foot into the forest on that first day.
On 7th March 2013, Natalie was still "checking" the surroundings by putting her front two feet outside the door. At times the bears were attracted to and curious about the macaques that were roaming near the forest enclosure.
The 12th March 2013 was the day that the BSBCC team members had been waiting for!!
10:28am: Rungus walking down the ramp to get the food and honey. Excitement, caution and curiosity were all displayed on Rungus’ face and in her movements.
he started to explore the surroundings by sniffing around, before heading straight inside the forest without even waiting for Natalie, Ah Lun and Julaini !!
2.30pm: The "Group Leader" Natalie, started to become confident enough to step outside again. She tried to get the food that was scattered around the forest enclosure. Slowly she stepped onto the forest floor, alert to everything surrounding her. Natalie found some dead wood just near to the open door and started digging into it for around ten minutes before going into the forest to meet with Rungus.
Have a look at the photos to check out what Rungus and Natalie are doing on their first day out in the forest!!
Text and Photo by Tee Thye Lim
At Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), the confiscated orphan sun bear will go through the electric fence training before they release into BSBCC forest enclosure. This is a very important phase where the bears will take their first step onto the forest floor after they have been keep in the cage for a long time.
Some of the bear may take 1 day to enter into forest, some of them may take 1 week, and some of them even spend more than 1 month to put four of their feet on the soil.
On 5th March 2013, the guillotine door which connected from our BSBCC bear house to the forest enclosure has been opened to let the sub-adult sun bear group - Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini to access to the forest.
As expected, the "Group Leader" - Natalie, is the first one who lead the group to explore the condition around the guillotine door. But none of them step into the forest on the first day.
On 7th March 2013, Natalie still "checking" the surrounding by letting out her feet at the guillotine door. Sometimes they will attracted and feel curious to the macaques who roaming near to the forest enclosure.
12th March 2013, this is the day where most of BSBCC team members have been waiting for !!
10:28am, Rungus, walking down from the ram to get the food and honey. Excitement, precaution, and curiosity were all shown on Rungus face and her movement.
She started to explore the surrounding by sniffing around and straight went inside the forest without waiting for Natalie, Ah Lun and Julaini !!
2.30pm, the "Group Leader" - Natalie, started to get confident to step out again. She try to get food which scattered in the forest enclosure. Slowly, she step on the forest floor, alert to everything surrounded her. Natalie found a dead wood just near to the guillotine door and she digging on it for around 10 minutes before she went into forest to meet with Rungus.
Have a look at the photo to check out what are Rungus and Natalie doing for the first day stepping out into forest !!
By Wong Siew Te
Stuarts Point Pre School always has a special heart for sun bears ever since I was introduced to their director Erin Chapman last January by a close friend of Erin who visited BSBCC earlier and shared our stories. They would like to do more and to help sun bear. A Sun Bear Project has been initiated in the preschool. The project "hope to raise awareness of the tremendous efforts of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and to make the little know Sun Bear famous in Stuarts Point and Scotts Head!!!" You can read more about Stuarts Point Pre School and their sun bear project here: http://enhancedlearningspps.blogspot.com.au/p/our-sun-bear-project.html
The very first sun bear project was to introduce the sun bears to the children:
Tuesday 29th January,
Today we introduced the little known Sun Bear to the children, we drew their attention to the Sun Bear's special markings on their chest explaining how the markings look like a sun. We also told the children about the Sun Bear's plight and of how the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Borneo helps rehabilitate rescued Sun Bear's who were taken from their mummy's and put in small cages. This part the children did not like so much and asked: "Why did they get taken?"
Few days later:
"Thursday 31st January,
Today we continued exploring sun bears... We have found it difficult to get some children to relate to the sun bear... so today we tried sparking their interest by viewing images of sun bear teddy bears and then inviting the children to participate in a guided drawing experience..."
On Thursday 21st February, the preschool did a "Sun Bear Fundraiser" by selling "Grub cakes" and "Ant slice"
With all the hard works from the teachers and children, they sold all of their cakes for the day and had a success fundraiser experience!
On Monday 4 March. 2013, the children had a "skyping the sun bears" experience with me. After the children built and painted a sun bear rainforest habitat in the school, they managed to have a skype with me at the observation platform of BSBCC. The children got to see the sun bear "live" from BSBCC forest enclosure (although the bears were far from my laptop and the images of the bear appeared to be small). The children were excited to see me and the sun bears on their computer. I am having a lot of fun answering the questions that the children asked:
Charlotte: "Do the babies have big yellow marks on their chest too?"
Aiken: "Do Sun Bears build tree houses?"
Matilda: "Do the Sun Bears bite?"
Malu: "Do they have spikey hair"
Asher: "Why do the Sun Bears get locked in cages?"
The images and voices from the sun bears were spread across the world through skype. Thanks to the technology, additional group of children know more about sun bear and their plights. They will grow up knowing more about the sun bears and the conservation issues about the rainforest of SE Asia.
We hope we could do this skype call more often with each other.
I hope other school across the world can also "visit" us, "see" the sun bears "digitally" at BSBCC and learn more about the sun bear. Even better, visit us "physically" next year when we officially open to the public!
Slowly but surely, sun bear the little known bear in the world will become a well known bear!
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photo by Gloria Ganang and Chiew Lin May
Climbing is a skill most often associated with primates, but sun bears are also arboreal. They often climb trees in order to forage for food, protect themselves from predators or to rest and sleep on the branches. Wong Siew Te, our BSBCC's CEO and Founder refers to sun bears as "forest engineers" because sun bears can climb trees and dig into beehives at the top of the canopy to get honey. The empty and abandoned beehive then becomes an important new habitat site for other animals such as hornbills.
A 8 months old sun bear cub, Damai has explore the forest and is very curious of the many new and exciting things that surround her. She is a very good at climbing trees. Every time we walk her in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve Sabah, she practices how to climb trees or liana (long-stemmed, woody vines). When in the tree she spends her time digging in search of insects and playing or resting in the tree anopy, just like a wild sun bear would ! Once she started climbing the trees, she will keep climb higher up of the tree and did not bother us. Now Damai can climb more than 5 meters high !!
You may wonder what is it that makes Damai such a good climber? Many of the sun bears features are adapted for a tree - dwelling lifestyle. She has extremely long, sharp and curved claws that are perfectly adapted for climbing trees. Inside the sun bears claw have a piece of bone that gives strength to the sun bear when climbing. Her claws help her to get a grip on the tree bark and she uses her powerful claws, limbs and padded feet to go up tree. She can also climb down from tall trees supported by her claws. As she climbs up and down the trees, her muscles continue to grow stronger!! Thus, the presence of a sun bear can be detected by their characteristic claw marks on the bark of trees. The sun bears small body size and their ability to rotate their front limbs just like a primate also assists them to climb. Amazing, indeed!
Text & Video by Chiew Lin May
Photo by Gloria Ganang and Chiew Lin May
Many people regard termite as pests as they are destroying wooden building and furniture. However, these small creatures are important as a food source for sun bears in the tropical rainforest of Southeast Asia.
Termite belong to the insect order Isoptera. Termites are great architects. There are different species of termites make mounds (termite hill) of different shapes of nest structure in the tropical forest.
Termite are an asset in the jungle. They paly important roles in recycling the organic material and decomposers in tropical forest. Beside feeding on dead woody materials, several termite species also damage life trees in forest. For example, microceratermes spp is wood feeding termite that attack living tree. Wong Siew Te, our Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) CEO and Founder described sun bear act as "Forest Doctor". This is because sun bears are keeping check and maintain the health of tropical forest in a good condition which makes sure the population of termites is under control. Sun bear create new "feeding site" when breaking the termite mound and feeding on these tiny invertebrates. After the feast, the termite mound is abandoned by the bears but other insect eating animals use it as a feeding site.
What will happen if sun bear is missing in the forest? The termite's population sure will be out of control and upset the equilibrium of the forest ecosystem.
Damai, a 7 month old female sun bear cub which was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department and was sent to BSBCC on last November learned how to dig when she was young. We walk Damai in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve for few hours each day for the past few months. Damai like to roam in the forest like a wild bear. She is now mastering well in her digging, climbing, and foraging skills in the forest. We proud to see Damai improve and grow so fast.
Sun bear are opportunistic omnivores that feed on forest insects such as termites and beetles. Insects as are important source of protein and a major component of bear diet. Damai view her world largely though her nose. She uses her keen sense of smell to locate their food source from a distances. When walking her in the forest, she spends most of her time foraging. She lumbers though the forest smelling the forest floor. She find termites by sniffing a decayed wood/ decayed log/ termite nest for any sign of termites, and digging it with her powerful long, curved claws. After that she will bit into the log with her strong canines and lick up the insects, larvae or eggs by her long tongue in fast flicking motion !! She even eat the termite queen ! No matter how tiny the paw is, she is capable to break into the termite nest and eat them. Sometimes she was too excited and rolls her body around the termite nest. It was so awesome!!
Some pictures tell a stories better than words. Here are some picture of Damai digging and searching for termites in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sabah.
Watch this short video which show how Damai foraging, digging searching for termites at Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sabah. It was an opportunity to study the behavior and ecology of sun bear. Hope you all enjoy this short video on what is going on in the world of Sun bear.
Please help us spread words, share this video and love for this little known bear- Sun bear.
Damai the sun bear cub feeds on termites in the forest of BSBCC