Text by Shauna Tay
Photos by Sumira Muis, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
My name is Shauna, I'm 24, Malaysian and an aspiring conservationist! I first came to know about BSBCC 7 years ago when Dr.Wong took me in as a young eager volunteer wanting to get some experience in animal husbandry and conservation. It has been incredible coming back after so long; the centre is now open to the public, the staff team has grown ten-fold, the capacity for bears has increased and the centre as a whole has developed in every way possible.
As a volunteer, we are given the opportunity to work closely with the bear keeping team. They are so giving of their time, knowledge and expertise - you learn something new every day! It has been great getting to know the staff, bears, and the everyday routine of maintaining such a facility for rescued sun bears. These bears have such different personalities, backgrounds, and are all on their own journey through rehabilitation. As an individual who strives to have a future in conservation, volunteering here for two months gave me insight into what it takes to develop such a project. Understanding the bear care, animal welfare, marketing, education and management side of things was important and I'm thankful to BSBCC for providing this learning platform.
I was also fortunate enough to accompany their outreach team to local schools in the area, assisting them as they conducted sun bear awareness booths, presentations and games for students of varying ages. It is essential to spread awareness of the challenges that of sun bears face, and to encourage young people to appreciate and respect nature. This is key to changing perspectives and ultimately the reality of these magnificent bears and other wildlife.
While working with the bear keeping team, we made various enrichment structures for the bears like fire hose hammocks (a favourite), hanging wooden logs with holes for honey, fruity ice blocks (another favourite), banana and peanut better nest balls and much much more. We would dedicate our entire afternoon to making enrichment for the bears who were unable to go into the forest enclosures. This was a really great part of the programme and an everyday practice by the staff. In the last few weeks of my placement, the bears Simone and Along were undergoing fence training - which is a sizeable indoor training pen (looking out into a forest enclosure) with an electric fence. This is essential as they need to familiarise themselves with the fence before being able to enjoy the spacious forest enclosures. I was able to do the behaviour monitoring for them at this time, which was a great learning opportunity and a reminder of how overwhelming it can be for these bears to be given bigger spaces after living in small cages for most of their lives.
The beauty of volunteering at BSBCC is that your ideas and opinions are taken into account. Your questions are always encouraged and appreciated, replied to with a smile and good reasoning. This is what makes it such a welcoming place. Thank you again for the incredible experience! I miss my bear family and hope to come back soon with more expertise of my own so I can better contribute to the future of our bears.
The Star Online, 8th May 2017
SANDAKAN: Work is ongoing to revive Sandakan so that it will regain its glory days, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said tourism would become the town’s key economic driver with the upgrading of the airport terminal together with the extension of the runway to accommodate larger aircraft.
“When the project is complete, there will be more direct flights from Japan, South Korea and China,” he said when launching the runway extension project here yesterday.
Najib said he had also asked the state to expand Sandakan’s golf course from nine to 18 holes, so that it could be of international standard.
“Sabah has all it takes to draw tourists. There’s the beautiful scenery, the wildlife, including the orang utan,” said Najib, who added that about RM80mil had been allocated for the runway extension, a project not originally listed under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
“In my last visit to Sandakan in March, I met the business community, who told me how important this project was,” said Najib, who quickly called Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to get it approved.
“If something will benefit Sabahans, I will approve it,” said the Prime Minister, adding that he had given the nod for more projects in Sabah “than a predecessor who was in power for 22 years”.
On education, Najib said everything was being done to ensure Sabahans would fill up at least 90% of the teaching posts in the state by 2020.
“We are hiring and training more teachers from Sabah to achieve this,” he told the crowd gathered for the Ekspresi Negaraku patriotism programme at the town padang.
The event saw the presence of personalities like wildlife biologist Dr Wong Siew Te, Mejar Noremazuan Nordin from the Royal Malaysian Air Force who took part in Ops Daulat in Lahad Datu, and mountain guide Nuhairi Kinta.
Other activities included a 3km run, a mass aerobic exercise, exhibitions by government agencies, and a concert featuring Dayang Nurfaizah, Hafiz Suip, Jacklyn Victor, Azharina and Mus of rock group May.
On coastal security, Najib said the Government was spending as much as RM300mil for the operations of the Eastern Sabah Security Command.
He maintained that the Government listened to the people to know what they wanted.
“We have always made it a point to feel the pulse of the people,” Najib said as he assured Sabahans there would be continuity in all that was being planned and implemented for the state.
“When there are shocks like the Arab Spring, the only result is drought. There is no guarantee that any replacement would be better,” he said.
Liow, who was also present, said the runway extension at the Sandakan airport would enable medium-sized aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 to use the airport.
He said improvements were necessary as the number of passengers there increased from about 853,000 in 2015 to nearly 883,000 last year.
Sabah received about one-third of the more than RM300mil allocation for air transport infrastructure under the 11th Malaysia Plan, with some RM93mil being spent to improve airports and other related facilities in the state.
Liow said for this year, some RM41mil out of RM79mil was being spent for the development of transport in Sabah.
The Ekspresi Negaraku programme was held at Padang Bandar Sandakan, Sandakan, Sabah. Ekspresi Negaraku is programme to remind Malaysians to love and be loyal to the nation, as well as inculcating the spirit of patriotism among Malaysian. Dr. Wong Siew Te, BSBCC Founder and CEO was selected as one of the Icon Negaraku. This event is launched by Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Many fun activities were held during this event including exhibitions from various organisations.
#ekspresinegaraku #mynegaraku #bsbcc #wongsiewte