Video by Chiew Lin May
Without the BSBCC, many captive sun bears would still live in small cages without HOPE;
Without the BSBCC many people in the world still would not know there are a bear species called the sun bear - Dr. Wong Siew Te
Please respect, protect and give sun bear a voice they deserve!
25th and 26th May 2019 marks the day where the "Wildlife Conservation and Awareness Nurture from Young" has been held at Kompleks Asia City, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah! Main organizer: Pusat Perkembangan Minda Bijak Participating organizations: BSBCC, DGFC, eRobotclub, MamilinDreamHouse party, Robotics Kids Lab, Kompleks Asia City, KK La Salle Alumni Apart from exhibition booths, Robotic Presentation were being showcased to the public. There were lots of activities especially for the kids such as colouring competition and mental arithmetic competition, while all visitors were invited to hear the talks on the topics around Wildlife Conservation by Scientific Officer of DGFC Ms Leona Wai, Universiti Malaysia Sabah's lecturer Dr Rafiq Idris, BSBCC's CEO and Founder Dr. Wong Siew Te, and Director of DGFC Dr Benoit Goossens. It is vital for our young generations to have the awareness in order to protect our wildlife. It is so that they will be able to care and start to take action for the survival of our wildlife without waiting for them to be at brink of extinction. Let's us all be a hero in protecting the wildlife! #awarenessprogramme #BSBCC #DGFC
Text By Mandy Lee
Photos By Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Hi I’m Mandy Lee from Taiwan. I am 36 years old and I am a freelance English tutor/translator.
Wildlife and traveling have always been my greatest passions. This is my second time visiting/volunteering in Sabah, but the very first time volunteering in BSBCC.
Before this project, I didn’t really have a chance to spend enough time understanding sun bears behaviours though back in 2014 I was with APE Malaysia creating some enrichment for the sun bears in Laos Zoo. Back then, all I knew was they love honey and they are relatively shy.
A fortnight has gone really fast. For my first week, I was assigned doing husbandry works and feeding the bears in different pens in the mornings; making enrichment for the bears and collecting materials for enrichment activities in the afternoons. As for my second week, my tasks mainly are preparing foods for the bears in the mornings and making enrichment for the bears in the afternoons. I found all these works interesting because when cleaning the night dens I was given a chance to observe their faeces and the scatters of enrichment. Through putting these little pieces of information together, I tried to picture what the bears probably had done the previous night. When preparing the foods for the “babies” (Forgive me if I started calling them babies because I’ve grown to love them more and more each day), I was also given a chance to understand their daily diet – carrots and leafy veggies are good for them not only because they are full of good nutrients but also because the fibres serve dental cleaning purpose.
There is never a dull moment. One of my favourite routines of each day is going out collecting materials for enrichment activities in the afternoon – we collected banana leaves, green mangoes, coconuts and branches, brought them back to the bear house and made enrichment props. Since the bears are the experts of smelling, sometimes we put different spice powders on the branches or we hid apple, banana pieces and peanut butter in parcels made with bamboos or cardboards to stimulate their ability forage for foods. Sometimes we went into the woods looking for termite nests and gave them to the bears as well because invertebrate is also one of the main sources of food for the bears in the wild. Watching the bears digging the termite nests looking for termites, using their claws to eat the foods or simply just lying there chilling out always put a smile on my face J
There are many wonderful things volunteering in BSBCC. To name a few, first is surely the professional team of BSBCC and my dear coordinator, Sumira. The staff and officers are so caring and lovely. They took me in as part of the big family right at the beginning; I didn’t even have time to be nervous about a new environment. Whenever I had questions, they were always there patiently for me. The second wonderful bit is definitely getting up early in the morning sitting in the outdoor kitchen enjoying my morning cup while watching the sunrise and listening birds chirping at volunteer accommodation. Being in an outdoor symphony concert every morning, what more could one ask for in life?
Last but not least, the weekly volunteer talk with Dr. Wong Siew Te will also be one of the many unforgettable moments in my life, for my past volunteering experiences, I never had a chance to have a deep conversation to the founder or the head of any animal conservation centre. Dr. Wong is charismatic and also very patient and down to earth. I remember the first talk with Dr. Wong, I was asking him that for me as an individual and a person with no zoology background, how could I raise public awareness of wildlife wellbeing and spread the words of the importance of conservation to people surround me. He was also curious about why I have been volunteering in animal conservation so many times as an Asian. I was getting quite emotional when he started explaining to me patiently and provided me some of his experiences hopefully this could help me to spread the words for the voiceless ones (the bears and other animals).
I would like to quote Dr. Wong’s words at our first volunteer talk to end this dairy.
“Getting emotional is a good thing, because that means you care for something.”
I really care about wildlife wellbeing and I shall do my part as an individual to speak for them.
Terima Kasih gila to all my Cikgu in BSBCC.
Text by Milla Milanovic
Photos by Chiew Lin May
My name is Milla Milanovic, I’m 18 years old and I’m from Sweden. I study animal care and I’m now in my final year of my 3 years of education. Thanks to my school I got the opportunity to come to Borneo to do my internship/volunteering at Bornean Sunbear Conservation Center. Before I came here I had never been to Asia before and I didn’t know a lot about Borneo or the sun bears so I was not sure what to expect. I knew that the weather here was very different from the weather in Sweden. I knew that it could get very warm and humid here but I was still surprised and I don’t really think you can prepare yourself.
Volunteering at BSBCC is very sweaty and a lot of hard work but also very fun. The routines that we did on a daily basis were things like cleaning cages in bear house 1 & 2, feeding the bears and of course making enrichment which is something that is considered really important here. Enrichment is something that you make for animals to stimulate their minds and so they can perform their natural behavior.
The enrichment that we usually did could be, for example sticks that we tied together and then put a bit of peanut butter between the sticks. If the animals don’t get to do their natural behaviors then they will easily get depressed, aggressive but first of all they will get stressed and then they can evolve stereotypical behaviors like pacing, which mean the animal is walking back and forth on the same place. Stereotypical behaviors means the animal is performing unnatural behaviors. By making different kind of enrichment every day and letting the sun bears to be in their big enclosures, helps the sun bears to do their natural behaviors like using their claws to rip things and to climb, taste and to smell and search for food. That is also one reason why the bear keepers here throw and spread out the food, which consist of different kind of fruits and vegetable.
These five past weeks have been incredible fun and educational, and I have learned so much and it have been fun to getting to know all of the 46 bears and there different personalities, and you can even see that they all have different favorite foods. These past weeks went by so fast but that only means that I have had a good time. I am so grateful that I got this opportunity to volunteer at BSBCC and to work with all of the nice and friendly bear keepers. Thank you for these five past weeks and I hope I can be able to come back in the future.
Every year on the 16th of May, BSBCC celebrate Sun Bear Day to raise awareness toward the conservation of the vulnerable sun bear. This year, as the 3rd years of celebrations, the Sun Bear Day was celebrated with the slogan ‘End Illegal Hunting’ as the theme. Illegal hunting has been identified as one of the major cause of decline in sun bear population, thus leaving them as Vulnerable in the IUCN Redlist; Sun Bear Day is a very good approach to attract more people especially the local to join and support us to protect this priceless treasure. As for the celebration, it was indeed a very joyful celebration, with various activities incorporated with the main purpose to spread education and supporting the conservation cause for the sun bears. Several local primary schools had been invited to join our Sun Bear Explorace, a race for the children to compete healthily among each other as they gather information and learn more about the sun bear. They also involve in a short drama competition with the theme related to end illegal hunting; a platform to improve their understanding about the plight of the sun bear and also sharpening their co-curricular skills. Another competition done was the Kahoot Challenge; an online quiz aimed to the secondary students to improve their knowledge on the sun bear. Beside of that, visitors and secondary schools students coming on this day got the opportunity to get involved on a hands on experience to make some of the bears favorite enrichments, essential in helping the sun bears to grasp the skills they need to live in the wild. The visitors also seized the chance to win exclusive lucky draw prizes, getting henna and airbrush tattoos of sun bears and also getting some taste of refreshing various flavoured drinks from Gen.Z booth that helped to promote and support sun bears via the sale of their drinks. And off course, the most handsome sun bear in the world, Sunny the Sun Bear also made his special appearance throughout the event. The Sun Bear Day coincided with the birthday of the Founder and CEO of BSBCC, Dr. Wong Siew Te, who spends more than 20 years of his life to protect and raise awareness for the sun bear. (The sun bears barked in joy and thank you Dr. Wong for your relentless and tireless effort for them!) On top of that, the celebration itself got a surprise visit from the Member of Parliament of Sandakan, YB Vivian Wong Shir Yee, who got herself tour guided personally by Dr. Wong Siew Te and also having the chance to interact around with the children and public in BSBCC. (Big thanks to YB Vivian Wong Shir Yee for the visit to BSBCC). We at BSBCC greatly appreciate all those who had joined and cooperated in making this year’s Sun Bear Day a major success. Special thanks to Politeknik Sandakan and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) Sandakan for the volunteers and logistic support; our cooperation will not stop here, we will be looking forward to cooperate again on any upcoming event. To all supporters and visitors, see you all again next year!
It has been almost a month since the release of the three sun bears on last 14 April 2019. We are excited to share with you about their latest movement in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Boboi (blue), Kitud (white), and Tan-tan (yellow) movement have been monitor from the GPS collar.
Green box: Release point
Red box: Latest position
The release on April 2019 marked down the 4th BSBCC reintroduction of the rescued sun bears. We are planning another four sun bears release on the second half of 2019, the cost and journey to bring them home is full of financial and logistic challenges.
You had helped us with each of the other stages, and we hope your support won't be stopped here.
We would like you to keep in the loop for the updates of their movement, subscribe to our newsletter and donate at www.bsbcc.org.my
Love, barks, big bear hugs.
Video by Chiew Lin May
Sun bear is opportunistic omnivores that consume a wide variety of fruits and insects in the forest.
Here Little Romolina is catching few frogs from the pool and filling her tummy!
Text by Umadevi A/P Murrty (Intern student, University Putra Malaysia Bintulu Campus)
Photos by Chiew Lin May
We decided to integrate our three cubs with the friendly sub-adult group- Nano, Noah, Dodop, Mary & Wawa. Integration can help bears to reduce their stress-related behavior and they can learn pertinent skills from each other such as survival skills and defense skills.
NOAH – The pretender
Logan was playful and gets along with Noah. At first, Logan was excited and played well with Noah but Romolina and Joe did not really like to play with him as they stayed aside or rest on the comfortable hammock. Logan started to play biting and rolling with Noah, even wrestling for the whole time. He has shown to be a more fun-loving bear that always initiates to play with Noah. Noah tries to approach Romolina several times but she seems less interested in joining to play while maintaining her independence whereas Joe would paw Noah in a gentle way and he starts suckling to seek attention. After sometime, Joe and Noah still spent some time playing cheerily. After a few days of integration, Noah gets closer with Logan and they do love slow fights. Noah also likes sniffing Romolina’s body which makes her feel uncomfortable and run all around the cages. Romolina did learn to defend herself by vocalizing and she is SUPER FAST in escaping from others.
MARY – The lovable
Integration starts when the gate opened on 23rd April 2019 among Mary and the group of bears. Logan initiates to walks into Mary’s cage but he looks less confident in approaching Mary. As soon as Mary saw Logan, she kept growling and pawing at him for a minute. This makes Logan and his group afraid of her and they distance themselves from Mary for some time. Mary also barked at Romolina when she tried approaching her. Joe and Romolina, both bears kept suckling to seek comfort. Since the cage is full of new enrichments to boosts up the new cubs, Mary also found it energetic and she kept exploring it. Unfortunately, towards the end of integration Mary seemed to be stressed out and she starts pacing in a stereotypical pattern. Eventually, they get to know that Mary less plays with them, thus the cubs maintain their distance from Mary.
DODOP – The sleepy
When Dodop introduced to the cubs, she was busy exploring her environment while manipulating the enrichments by climbing up and down. Eventually, Dodop slowly came closer to Joe while sniffing to his body. But, Joe do not really interested with Dodop because she keeps biting Joe without releasing. Joe also showed anger towards Dodop by barking at her and avoids. Romolina shows her interest in playing with Dodop as they chasing each other within the cages, UP AND DOWN. Both bears had their good joyful time. Dodop also enjoyed mouthing and wrestling with Logan whenever the other two were fewer shows interest in play.
WAWA- The explorer
As the gate opens, Wawa being the curious one went into the den where the three cubs were located, and tried to approach Romolina, and sniff her. Romolina enjoys it and she did sniffing, mouthing and pawing in a friendly manner. Wawa wrestled her and they were playing some time happily. Logan, playful bear also did approach Wawa and they get along with each other quicker. They both wrestles for the next 15 minutes NON- STOP! They even had some rough fights which filled with fun and excitement. Whereas, Joe and Romolina were busy foragings while exploring the enrichment.
NANO - The Spy
Nano was introduced to the cubs on 26th April 2019. Nano shows his interest by sniffing at Logan’s back body and ears. Both of them vocalized at each other while Nano offers a friendly paw to Logan. Nano loves the enrichment provided in the cub’s cages and he spent a few minutes enjoying the attractive enrichment. Romolina and Joe were a little stressed and ended up in pacing in a stereotypical pattern. Joe gets angry at Nano when he sniffed Joe’s ears. Instead, Nano and Logan played chasing, climbing up and sharing the hammock while hugging and playing jovially.
In conclusion, Logan loves to spend more time in making new friends and is a very active bear. Besides that, Romolina and Joe, who is less interested in making new friends however they are still trying to patch up with other bears slowly. Joe and Romolina are also known to be the explorer and love to live in their own world. Integration between three musketeer’s bears with the sub adult group was absolutely fine and no aggression found.
Video by Chiew Lin May
"Digging a dead log is one of my favourite hobbies!" - Logan the bear
Sun bear serve important ecologic roles to maintain the health of our forest ecosystem! Please protect the sun bears from major threats.
Text by Nathaly Velarde
Photos by Chiew Lin May
Hello my name is Nathaly Velarde and I’m from Sweden. I will graduate in 2 months from Spanga Gymnasium. Every year my school sends 4 volunteers to Borneo for an internship so we can gain experience, knowledge of how a zookeeper works. Which I’m so thankful for and I hope they keep sending more students to Borneo so they learn everything we have learnt about sun bears and rehabilitation.
When I was told that I will be one of the lucky student to do my internship in Borneo I got really happy. Since I was born in Bolivia I got really interested in rehabilitation because I found similarities like how poaching works, and the rainforest is disappearing. I got to learn a lot from Dr. Wong Siew Te when we had the question session where he told us how we have to think and act. His wise words will stay with me forever and I want to make a change in how Bolivia is handling the animals and help as much as I can.
These past 5 weeks have been so much fun, I have learnt a lot about sun bears which I will pass on the information to people in Sweden and Bolivia so they know how important and cute they are. Before coming here, I didn’t know what to expect, I’m shy with new people but after spending a few days at the center I already felt comfortable and I’m thankful that the staff at the center are always happy and nice.
Something I learnt a lot about is enrichment before I came here I already knew the importance of giving enrichment to animals in captivity but the meaning “enrichment” is more valuable here and I love that. Everyday we try to make enrichment for the sun bears so they have something to play with and does not feel bored.
I want to thank BCBCC and APE Malaysia for doing an amazing job. I really loved these 5 weeks here in Borneo and im really thankful for my school that gave this big opportunity.
Good luck and I hope I can come back again.