The following article was published in the Timber Malaysia, Jan-Feb 2009 issue, the magazine published by the Malaysian Timber Council. This is surely a big step toward showing supports and recognition on BSBCC by the Malaysian government. Thank you MTC!
Sabah has expended significant effort and resources to establish sanctuaries for endangered wildlife such as the Orang Utan, Sumatran rhinoceros, Borneo pygmy elephants and Proboscis monkeys. In yet another commendable effort, Sabah is establishing a rehabilitation and conservation centre for sun bears.
Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman, said that Sabah’s sun bears are one of the world’s eight bear species, and noted that research has shown Borneo, particularly Sabah, to be amongst the last few habitats for sun bears. He added that the state wants to protect the mammal, which is considered a unique species.
“Conservation efforts must include getting them back into the wild,” he said at a fund-raising event held recently for the establishment of the RM1.2 million conservation centre in Sepilok, Sandakan. He added that another major task is to raise awareness on this little-known animal.
Known as the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), the facility will be the first of its kind in Asia. It is being jointly developed by Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) and a non-governmental organisation, Land Empowerment of Animal and People (LEAP).
The centre will provide opportunities for research on the animal apart from serving as a focal point for studies on sun bears in Asia. It will also be developed as an educational and awareness facility as it is located next to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
Spearheading the project is sun bear researcher and conservationist, Wong Siew Te. A local non-profit company, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Sdn Bhd, has been set up with Wong as the CEO. A Memorandum of Understanding between SWD, SFD and LEAP was signed in November 2008.
Construction work, to begin in March 2009, is scheduled for completion by end-2009. According to Wong, the establishment of the centre will be carried out in three phases with phase one costing RM1.1 million and RM1.5 million for phase two and phase three.
An enclosure will be built under the first phase, which can house 20 sun bears. The second phase involves the construction of an observatory platform, exhibition centre and a gallery for visitors to view the sun bears in their natural habitat. For phase three, a second bear house will be built. Phase two will commence in early 2010 and be completed within six months while work on phase three will start in the later part of 2010.
There are presently 12 sun bears confiscated by the SWD and housed at its facilities in Sepilok. “The centre is crucial for the survival of the bears as there is no appropriate facility in Sabah to shelter the number of sun bears rescued by SWD from captivity or after they have been left orphaned,” he said.“Even though the sun bears are kept in captivity, they can gain access to the natural forest to enjoy life in the wild once the centre is completed.
This innovative project aims to provide a holistic approach to the conservation of the Sun Bear, combining improved facilities for captive bears with increased public awareness both at the local and international levels. Perhaps most importantly, they can be released back into the wild after being rehabilitated,” concludes Wong.
Come and enjoy a fantastic family day out and help us raise money to save the ‘Forgotten Bear’!
On the Sunday 24th and Monday the 25th of May 2009, the Sun Bear Conservation Trust in conjunction with the Rare Species Conservation Centre in Sandwich, Kent are holding a ‘Sun Bear Conservation Weekend’ to raise money for the conservation of Sun Bears – the worlds smallest and least well known bear.
The Rare Species Conservation Centre is home to some of the world's lesser known rare and endangered species, often overlooked in other more mainstream zoological establishments, such as: the Fat Tailed Dwarf lemur, the Arabian Sand Cat and of course, the Sun Bear. The centre was established in 2006 and forms part of The Rare Species Conservation Trust which is a registered U.K. charity (Registered charity number 1119230). Apart from running the Rare Species Conservation Centre, The Rare Species Conservation Trust also supports and runs various other in-situ conservation projects in the field. Thanks to the their kind generosity, members of the Sun Bear Conservation Trust will be hosting a number of stalls and attractions at the centre on the second May Bank Holiday including a raffle, cake stall and information stand, all to raise money for rescued Sun Bears in South-East Asia.
The Sun Bear Conservation Trust (SBCT) is a charitable organisation founded in 2008 by a group of enthusiastic volunteers who have been lucky enough to work with Sun Bears in Borneo. SBCT is currently working towards becoming a registered charity and has been holding several events across the country to achieve the mandatory fundraising threshold to register. It is hoped that the money raised on the ‘Sun Bears Conservation Weekend’ at the Rare Species Conservation Centre will help the SBCT achieve this goal. All money raised by SBCT so far is being used to support the work carried out by the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, a sanctuary for orphaned and rescued Sun Bears, based at the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Eastern Borneo. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is using the money donated to help build a much needed new centre for the Sun Bears they look after and also for the bear’s ongoing care. It is the hoped that, with the help of the money raised in the future, the majority of Sun Bears rescued by the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre will be rehabilitated and released into the wild. SBCT also hope to use some of the money raised in the future to raise awareness of the plight faced by the Sun Bear.
What is a Sun Bear?
The Sun Bear, which is also known as honey bear, is the smallest of the world’s eight bear species and also one of the most threatened. They can be found in several South-East Asian countries including, Malaysia, Indonesia and China, but their number are decreasing in all the countries in which they inhabit. Sun Bears can grow to just over a metre in length, stand approximately 2.5ft tall when standing on all four feet and rarely weigh more than 65kg. Sun Bears have sleek short fur, brown or black in colour with a cream coloured crescent on their chest said to resemble the rising and setting sun. They have a small tail and a very long tongue which helps them reach larvae, termites and of course honey hidden in the forest. Sun Bears have long curved claws and a pigeon towed gait, both of which make them excellent tree climbers. Sun Bears in the wild will often build nests high in the trees in which to sleep or sunbathe during the day.
Threats to the Sun Bear
Major threats currently faced by these unique animals are illegal poaching and habitat destruction, however, Sun Bear body parts are also highly sought after for traditional Chinese remedies, in particular Sun Bear bile. Bile from Sun Bears is collected in Bear Bile farms where bears are kept in tiny cages and their bile continually collected from open wounds in their abdomen. The bears in these farms suffer substantial amounts of pain and often get large tumours and fatal infections as a result of their treatment.
Sun Bears paws are also considered a delicacy in some South East Asian countries and in some cases, the bears paws are cut off while the animal is still alive. Adult mother Sun Bears are also often killed for their babies which are then sold as pets. In all of the above cases Sun Bears suffer tremendously. It is estimate that the worlds Sun Bear population has declined by at least 30% over the past 30 years and continues to decline at this rate. It is also one of the 6 bear species threatened with extinction.
Please come along on to the ‘Sun Bear Conservation Weekend’ at the Rare Species Conservation Centre on the 24th and 25th May for a fun filled family day out and help us protect this beautiful species. For more information on Sun Bears and the work carried out by the Sun Bear Conservation Trust and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation, please visit:
Or contact Fiona McInally on 07872919152, Fiona.firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Julie Trump on 07950611970 or at email@example.com
For more information on the Rare Species Conservation Centre, please visit www.rarespeciesconservationcentre.org
The Rare Species Conservation Centre is situated on the A256 Dover Road Roundabout, just outside of Sandwich, Kent.
The centre is open 10 am - 6 pm (last admission is 5 pm)
Entry fees: Adults £8
Text by Wai Pak Ng
May 1st 2009, we have our first meeting and remarkable dinner together with the board and staffs of LEAP, later become the soul and heart of BSBCC at Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Cynthia, Wong, Sylvia, Heather, James and I were at the dinner that day. This meeting was the first time for many of us met as before we were depending on emails and skype most the time. It must be the same mission and the dedication to help the sun bear that brought us together! It also an important night for BSBCC not only that we all meet for the first time, but also the idea of having the Bear Necessity fund raising evening was suggested by Cynthia for the first time!
At last, BSBCC was born!
During the past one year, BSBCC was just like a baby, trying to start from the very beginning. Thanks for all the helps and support from the government and private sectors, LEAP and partners of LEAP, BSBCC has grown up bits by bits, to the stage we are now. We had achieved our plans like the remarkable Bear Necessities fund raiser dinner. With the first anniversary of BSBCC, we are glad to see more and more people joining us and support the conservation of sun bears. We are happy to have friends in UK that set up Sun Bear Conservation Trust and help us to raise fund. Thank you all!