BSBCC visited 4 schools in Kinabatangan and Sandakan during May and June 2016. Teachers, students and parents were very welcoming to the EE team comprising of several organizations including HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (HUTAN-KOCP), Sabah Wildlife Department, the Sabah Department of Environmental Protection and BSBCC.
We were very happy to have chance to share the interesting facts about our wildlife to the students! All of the students enjoyed their time learning about the environment and wildlife species through the talks, exhibitions, and environmental games. We hope that they can gain more knowledge on the importance of protecting the environment and our precious wildlife species.
During this period, BSBCC also joined a 5-Day RAMSAR CEPA and RAMSAR CEPA Kit outreach programme organized by our environmental education partner, Sabah Forestry Department. The programme was held on the 23rd – 27th May 2016 in three villages along the Kinabatangan river; Kg. Bongon Besar, Kg, Mumiang & Kg. Abai. Several organizations were involved in the activity including the Sabah Wildlife Department, Department of Fisheries Sabah, HUTAN-KOCP and BSBCC. The teachers and students were very welcoming during our visit. We also had the opportunity to conduct a dialog session with the villagers to address environmental and wildlife issues they face, and to come up with a solution to solve the issues.
Table 1: List of school and group participated in BSBCC outreach programme in May and June 2016.
YAYASAN SIME DARBY ENVIRONMENT DAY
BSBCC participated in the Yayasan Sime Darby Environment Day held on 19th May 2016, at the University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF) in Kota Kinabalu. This event was also participated by several other Malaysian-based NGO’s. Mr. Wong, Gloria and intern, Yen Wah represented BSBCC during this event. Wong presented a talk on BSBCC’s role in sun bear conservation.
We prepared educational specimens in our booth for the public to learn more about sun bears at the BSBCC booth. The appearance of "Sunny the sun bear" had also given cheers to many people during the event. Many thanks to Yayasan Sime Darby for inviting us to participate in this memorable event!
SM ST. MICHAEL , SANDAKAN
BSBCC education team visited St. Michael Secondary School on 29th June 2016.
Approximately 400 students and teachers were involved in this programme. Gloria, our Environmental Education Executive delivered a brief presentation at the school. The students were very keen to learn about the sun bears and many did not know about their existence in our forest.
We also prepared a display booth for the teachers and the students to further learn about the sun bears. Wong was also there to answer questions from the audiences. Enthusiast students from the school will also donate fruits for the bears at the Centre for the following 4 months. Special thanks to SM St. Michael teacher Madam Janet initiating this brilliant idea for the students to help the sun bears.
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Do you remember the story of the motherless bear cub which was found by a ranger in Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16, Pinangah, Telupid District? Our little Wawa is not so little anymore. Sun bear cubs grow very fast, especially when they are 4 to 10 months old. She is now 6 months old and her body weighs 11.90 kg. She has started to learn to eat solid food. Her favourite foods are soft fruits like papaya, banana and milk!
It is one month until little Wawa finishes her quarantine period. She should be brought out to the forest to learn all the survival forest skills that she needs. Due to the emotional trauma that resulted from being kept as a pet or the suffering from losing her mother, Wawa does not want to step out from quarantine into the nearby forest and becomes more scared if we let her paws on the forest floor. She becomes grumpy and starts growling! She still feels safer and prefers to stay in quarantine compared to out in the forest. This is the problem when you keep a sun bear as a pet for long periods in captivity. We will never know exactly what happened to her. Her history was told that she was found lifeless and alone without her mother.
This is a challenge for us and our bear care keepers to encourage the cub to forage and climb trees like a wild bear. The love and care of a mother bear can never be replaced but BSBCC bear care keepers provide as much love and support as they can to the sun bear orphans. In order for little Wawa to gain trust and confidence, bear cub keepers provided many natural enrichments to stimulate and prepare her for life back in the wild. She will practice her “wild bear skills”. We let Wawa have a larger exercise den. During the day she is in a larger den with a nice view over the playground. At the den she will be able to view the forest. The den equipped facility features natural habitat enrichment, places to hide away, play objects such as termite mounds, bird nests, logs, dead wood, branches, twigs, dry leaves, and fresh plants to encourage natural behavior such as searching for food, foraging skills, climbing, etc. She is relishing the opportunity to explore the larger den. Wawa is being encouraged to climb and explore around. These are the skills essential for survival in the wild. She is particularly fond of treats and any form of enrichment. She is good at exploring and investigating the enrichment. She has explored, played, climbed, and rested in the big exercise pen. We hope Wawa has her days filled with fun and not fear!
Wawa will be given time to become adjusted to her new surroundings. She will slowly gain strength, confidence and develop her independence to survive in the forests of Borneo. She is now learning to enjoy her life again after suffering the pain from the loss of her mother. For sun bear cubs, it means that she will now get her second chance to live in the wild as she was born to do.
Text and Photos by Viktoria Forstén
My name is Viktoria Forstén, I´m a 19 year old animal lover from Sweden. I got the amazing opportunity to volunteer at the BSBCC through a scholarship from my school. For that I am forever grateful. I travelled across the globe together with my three friends Emelie, Evelina and Kim, and it was the greatest experience of my life.
First of all I want to say how amazing everyone at the center is. That goes for Mr Wong, the bear keepers and everyone working in the office. I feel so blessed to have gotten to meet you all and working alongside you guys.
Unfortunately we live in a world full of destruction, made by us. If we shorten the earths’ lifespan into 24 hours then that means we’ve been here for one day. If we keep looking at it in that perspective, do you know how long it has taken for us to destroy forests and made so many animals go extinct? Three seconds. In three seconds we have done all this, and yet we keep doing it. This isn’t supposed to be a depressing text but it’s true. When I first saw how much rainforest that has been burnt to the ground and been replaced with palm tree plantations it broke my heart. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, which means wise man. But if we are so wise then how could we let this happen? How could we destroy our home that has done nothing but give us life? This earth that we call ours is so beautiful and brings us so much joy. We have the pleasure to explore the deepest of oceans, climb the highest mountains and watch how life begins and how it ends (naturally). We share this earth with amazing creatures and can even create strong bonds with some of them. We have the nerve to claim this earth and everything that comes with it, ours… But we are only guests here. Now you’re probably confused as to how this has anything to do with volunteering at the BSBCC. The point I’m trying to get across is that we have, and are currently ruining not only the sun bears’ home but all the other animals’ home too. By volunteering you are trying to help make a difference to save this species, but how can we save them if their home is being taken away from them in such a raging pace.
In all this chaos there is still a few good people out there, people like the BSBCC crew, who I would call heroes. We need more people like that, to clean up the mess we’ve created. I’m happy centers like this one exist but at the same time I’m sad that we’ve done so much damage that we now need to put a massive amount of money and energy into something the nature once had under control.
What the center does for these bears deserves an award, honestly. Personally I didn’t mind the hard work because I thought it was a lot of fun. My favorite task was getting dead logs from the forest and giving to the bears as enrichment. Since all of the bears can’t go outside due to their traumatic past, enrichment is very important. We used lots of natural materials like logs, leaves, bamboo etc. to give the bears. It was usually made to hide food inside of it, for example we made little nest like balls made out of leaves and grass that we stuffed with fruit and honey. Even fire hoses were greatly appreciated; those were used to put peanut butter inside of them so that the bears got to utilize one of their natural behaviors, which are using their long tongues to get food.
When you volunteer you get to see a totally different side of the bears that you don’t see as a visitor. It is great being on the platform watching them foraging for food, climbing trees and behaving like a bear should behave. Although once in the bear house you get a feel of each and everyone’s different personalities. My favorite bear was Chin because of her playful ways; I could sit and watch her play with her logs all day long, if that was possible.
If you’re coming from a colder country like me, the climate change is going to have an impact on you. I remember how red and sweaty I would get from cleaning the cages in the morning. The key is to drink lots of water. Even walking the daily feeding route made me look like a tomato. Being pale and not being used to the heat made me look all kinds of crazy, the staff probably thought I was going to pass out several times but I was fine, haha! It was fun and that’s all that matters.
Let’s talk about our accommodation! The volunteers live in a big house kind of, with numerous rooms, an outdoors kitchen with an amazing view and a few toilets and showers. It is simple living but I guess that won’t be a problem for anyone coming to Borneo to volunteer. I loved it anyhow! The place is called Paganakan Dii and there’s even a café that belongs to the accommodation that serves drinks and food. An advice from me is to not cook your own dinners. It is way cheaper, faster and easier eating at the café.
I’m not going to lie I was a little nervous about meeting the staff for the first time. I’m somewhat of a shy person and the fact that we had to communicate in English was a bit nerve-racking to me. Once I met everyone there was nothing to worry about at all. They were so nice to us and they made me feel really welcome. The language barrier was not a problem; they were really good at explaining everything in English so that we understood. They told me that I was going to cry on my last day, because apparently that is very common among all volunteers. I did not think they were going to be right, but believe me when I say this, you will cry. Saying goodbye to the bears on our last day felt like someone had died. I was crying rivers, it was kind of bad.
Being there for five weeks was truly the best time of my life. The mixture of the warm weather, the cool insects, the amazing people I met and the bears made the experience awesome. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have gotten that opportunity. For everyone reading this, please consider going there to volunteer, I promise you it will be a time worth remembering.
A huge thank you to the bear keepers and everyone at the center for making our time there better than ever imagined! I miss you and the bears!
Huge hugs/ Viktoria
Viewing the bears has never been the same since the opening of our Second Observation Platform and Aerial Walkway. Thanks to Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), visitors can now view sun bears in the enclosures from a different perspective. The new facility has been able to cater a greater number of visitors and offer them an unforgettable experience to witness the bears in the natural forest setting.
On the 19th May 2016, the official launching of the new structure took place. The event was attended by honorable guests; Ms Caroline Christine Russell (Governing Council Member of Yayasan Sime Darby), Yang Berbahagia Datin Paduka Zaitoon Dato' Othman (Governing Council Member of Yayasan Sime Darby), Puan Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin (CEO of Yayasan Sime Darby), Mr. Augustine Tuuga (Deputy Director of Sabah Wildlife Department), Tuan. Hj. Fadzil Hj. Yahya (Sandakan District Forest Officer), Tuan. Sailun Hj. Aris (Sandakan District Wildlife Officer), Mr. Jeffery Hj. Aman (Secretary of the Sandakan Municipal Council) and the team of Yayasan Sime Darby.
The remarkable event started with a welcoming speech from BSBCC’s CEO & Founder, Mr. Wong Siew Te. During his speech, Wong mentioned how ecotourism has contributed towards conservation efforts in the state. BSBCC is among the good examples where ecotourism contributed towards the conservation efforts of wildlife apart from improving local and national economy and livelihood. Ecotourism in Sabah has been proven as the third source of revenue after timber and oil palm industry. Wong names this industry “conservation ecotourism”.
Our honorable guest, Ms. Caroline was next to present her speech which mentioned about YSD’s milestone towards conservation works in Sabah which started with the reforestation of the heavily degraded Ulu Segama forest through partnership with the Sabah Forestry Department. YSD started supporting BSBCC in 2012 with a 2-year sponsorship covering the Centre’s operational costs which includes renovation of the old bear house, construction of the second bear house and construction of the second forest
enclosure and perimeter walkway.
In 2014, BSBCC came into YSD’s attention when the Centre’s only observation platform could not cater the 4,000 visitors each month. The Second Observation Platform and aerial walkway was then constructed in September 2015 with funding support from YSD. The remarkable event ran smoothly with team efforts from YSD and BSBCC. Thanks to Yayasan Sime Darby for their continuous support and sponsorship towards our Centre. Without their vital support, we may not be where we are today.
At BSBCC, group visits are always welcomed. This can encourage them to learn more about sun bears and their habitat and their threats.
On the 14th May 2016, students from “Institut Latihan Perindustrian” (ILP), a local institution in Sandakan and Conservation Biology students from University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) visited our Centre.
A total 28 students from ILP were involved during the visit to our Centre. This visit provided the students knowledge and important awareness to conserve sun bears as a species in the long run. The students also came with the purpose to contribute in any way they can at the Centre. BSBCC’s team has arranged the students to help in the maintenance of our facility.
Their visit started with an interpretative walk around our visiting area which was conducted by our Centre Coordinator,
Jeremy. After that, the students spent their time observing the sun bears from the observation platform. Many were excited to see the sun bears for the first time and were amazed of how small they are.Their activity continued with maintenance work for our access trails and walkway. Many thanks to students and teachers from ILP for conducting such a meaningful visit.
On the same day, students and lecturers from University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) visited our Centre. As part of their Wildlife Management course, they conducted a trip from their institution in Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok, Sandakan.
During their arrival at BSBCC at around 2pm, BSBCC’s founder and CEO, Mr. Wong presented a talk about sun bears and BSBCC. At the end of the presentation, a short Q&A was held with the students. They were then taken to the observation platform to see the sun bears in the forest enclosure. Mr. Wong also gave them a special tour behind the scenes, at the bear house area to learn further about the Centre’s operations and the sun bear’s rehabilitation process.
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Weighing her, noting down health status, giving her warm milk formula, preparing favorite fruits, providing different types of enrichment, endless loving care of her bear cub keeper and seeing her as affectionately and protectively as her mother could.
Let read story from little Wawa to know more about her rescue and rehabilitation process:
Sun bear cubs are dependent on their mother for two to three years in order to know about survival in the forest. Wawa lost her mother and now she has to learn by herself. Wawa will soon be taken for walks in the forest. She will have a second chance to behave like the wild bear that she is. We will be looking forward her rehabilitation process. She has the strong nature of a leader!
Lawa has been thriving since she was rescued. She is eager to show that her world is in the forest! Lawa is an agile and cheerful sun bear. She is become excellent in foraging, digging for grubs, sniffing out bee hives, climbing trees and building a tree nest on her own. It makes you realize how wild these sun bears are meant be.
With her strong natural instincts and mastered all the survival skills, Lawa will soon be a great candidate to release in the wild. Please help us to make Lawa’s freedom possible and give her a future where she belongs! Your support is vital to us. We cannot do it without you!
Here is the site just specify for Lawa gofundme campaign.
Your donation is much appreciated!