This morning we welcome students from the Oregon State University, United States. BSBCC Founder and CEO, Dr. Wong delivered a talk on sun bears, how BSBCC was set up and BSBCC's achievements. Then, everyone went for an exclusive tour at the sun bear observation area guided by Dr. Wong himself. It was also our honor to welcome Dr. Wendy Erb, Fulbright Scholar and biological anthropologist and also Shanon Phang from the US Embassy, Kuala Lumpur to BSBCC. Thank you all for visiting us and we hope everyone had a wonderful time learning about the sun bears today!
Starting from 16th June - 20th June 2017, BSBCC Education team joining the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD); Kinabatangan district for the CEPA & CEPA Kit Programme. CEPA stands for the "Conservation, Education, Participation and Awareness" Programme is a platform to convey knowledge and create awareness on the importance of wetlands among its inhabitants. With the theme of environmental education, this programme aims to deliver message and spread the knowledge of biodiversity conservation among local communities and school kids. Three schools are selected along the Ramsar site in Kinabatangan area which are SK Tidung Tabin, SK Tundon Bohangin and SK Sri Ganda. Hopefully, with this programme we can help to enhance the community engagement in wildlife conservation in Sabah.
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Tee Thye Lim and Chiew Lin May
The sun bear is the smallest and least studied of the eight bear species in the world. Unfortunately, the number of sun bears is declining. Their population has decreased by 30 percent over the past 30 years and they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The causes for this decline are illegal poaching, illegal pet trade and habitat loss, putting their future in jeopardy.
Our project of studying the wild sun bears in Tabin Wildlife Reserve has kicked off!!
Currently Thye Lim is running the project for his masters at Sunway University, and he is conducting this study to estimate the population density of sun bear. The study will be conducted in the biggest forest reserve in Sabah (Latitude 5°12’51”N and Longitude 118° 43’11”E). Tabin Wildlife Reserve was gazetted in 1984.
A total of twenty camera traps will be in use (Moultrie M-999i). One camera will be placed at each station. To increase the detection of sun bears, we set up camera traps along animal trails and on trees which had any signs of sun bears (e.g. claw marks), or on fig trees.
Type of bear signs :
This study is supported by the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), Lancaster University (UK) and Sunway University (Malaysia). This is a collaborative project by Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and BSBCC.
There are fantastic pictures which have been taken by camera traps during our sun bear study and we will keep you updated on more photos as they come!
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Azzry Dusain, Tee Thye Lim, Seng Yen Wah and 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 is a bear species called the sun bear
– CEO & Founder, Dr. (Hon) Wong Siew Te, D.J.N
Poaching, pet trade and loss of habitat continue to pose a MAJOR threat to the survival of sun bears. Mother bears are often killed and their infants are sold in the illegal wildlife pet trade. Sun bears are very similar to humans - they cannot survive on their own without their mothers. It is tragic that sun bears are still being found orphaned. Sun bear populations have declined by more than 30% in the past 30 years, leaving the danger of imminent extinction in the wild a very real possibility.
Text and Photos by Ong Yu Qi
Ong Yu Qi. 1999. Penang, Malaysia. First and foremost, I would like to thank BSBCC for giving me a chance to be a volunteer at the centre for three weeks (19/3-8/4), I consider it as the best thing I’ve experienced so far in 2017. Back to 2016, my family and I were watching a TV show that was featuring BSBCC in one of the episodes and it was that day that I got to know about BSBCC and I was impressed with all the work that BSBCC have done. I then decided to volunteer at BSBCC after finishing my SPM to gain knowledge about wildlife conservation and to learn more about sun bears. After going through the application process and an interview, I got an email from BSBCC on 12th of February informing me that I’m IN for the volunteer programme! :D
Every morning after breakfast at the volunteer house Bjorn Hala (Meaning: Bear Den in Swedish), we will take off at 7:30am to the centre and start to work at 8:00am. For the morning session, one will either be at the bear house cleaning cages or at the kitchen preparing food for the bears. I admit cleaning cages wasn’t a fun thing to do, but I always had that distinct sense of achievement after cleaning them! On the other hand, working in the kitchen is less tough but there are a lot of things to do because everything that is needed for a balanced sun bear diet is done here. Some days, one will go for fence check to ensure the fences are clear from leaves, and stems from climbing plants because the voltage of the electric fence will be affected if there are foreign objects attached to it. Volunteers would had a chance to feed the bears too (without having contact with the bears of course) We feed them four times a day, two times porridge, two times fruits & vegetables.
In the afternoon, we make enrichments for the bears. Enrichments are very crucial in the rehabilitation process of the bears as they can encourage their natural bear behaviours and boost their emotional health. (Bears can be bored and need something to play too!) In these couple of weeks, I’ve made nest balls, stick paradox, bamboo feeders, ice blocks and so on, not forgetting a hammock for my favourite sun bear - Simone!
There were also some days, we got to have sessions with Dr. Wong. He was so patient to answer whatever questions we had about the sun bears, the centre, on his life and so much more. Thank you Dr. Wong for delivering so much information to the volunteers and interns despite your busy life!
Don’t get me started on how amazing the people are! Everyone is willing to help, listen and answer. When I first got here, I was shy, quite nervous about meeting new people and kind of not used to being far away from my parents without any friends but everyone was so friendly and affable, I found my feet in no time. I would like to thank all of the BSBCC staffs (especially the Bear Care Team) and people that I’ve met along the way, and of course, Dr. Wong Siew Te for all the little and big ways you all have pitched in ♥ . The sun bears are extremely lucky to have such passionate, committed and selfless people as their “moms” and “dads”. I’ll never forget the days we went out for dinner, grocery shopping and movies, not to mention the splendid home cooked dinner we had at Dr.Wong’s house!
Furthermore, I learned a lot about the importance of a balanced ecosystem and the role humans play to protect it for our future generations. It’s sad to think about the fact that a lot of Malaysians don’t know about the existence of sun bears in this country and their vulnerability, it seems like people only know about giant pandas and polar bears when it comes to endangered bear species. These beautiful and precious creatures need to be protected and cherished, I hereby urge everyone (especially Malaysians) to find out more about sun bears by volunteering at BSBCC!
In a nutshell, my volunteer experience at BSBCC wasn’t a far cry from what I had expected - positive vibes, amiable people & lots of new things to learn every day! Truth be told, I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and took up this challenge at the age of 18. The things that I’ve learned, the stories that I’ve heard, has empowered me to become stronger mentally and physically. I didn’t know that I’m capable of all of this until I’ve done it and I’m very grateful to have a experience like this to widen my horizon before my next big challenge - college.
New things that I’ve experienced during this period of time:
-Using tools that I didn’t use before, namely,jigsaws & power drills
-I had the chance to talk to foreign and local visitors about the sun bears (sun bear facts and their vulnerability)
-First trip alone to an unfamiliar place far away from home (first time in East Malaysia too!)
-Made new friends and got the chance to speak in languages other than Chinese (growing up in a Chinese family, owning 99% Chinese friends, I never really got opportunities to speak in other languages) I learned some Sabah slangs too ;P
I’m certain that I will be back because I want to…
-Experience more! (three weeks was too short, I didn’t even have the chance to go to an outreach programme which travels to schools to raise awareness about sun bears)
-Meet these amazing people again
-Help and learn more and more about sun bears!!!
Lots of love,
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
Busy. Think. Learn. Find out. Enjoy
Over the past few days (31 May till 4 June 2017), our wonderful students from University of Minnesota have been hard work helping on the maintenance of the forest enclosures and facilities, assisting bear care keepers on cleaning bear dens, food preparation and making or loading enrichment for bears! From this enrichment sun bears can build their natural behavior.
Check out our lovely sun bears extremely grateful and figure out how to get into the treats on their new enrichment.
Party time at BSBCC!!
Minnesota students together with Dr.Wong are cooking together.
Big thanks to you all for tireless work and giving support to improve the lives of these rescued bears – You are brighten up their chance where bears can live freely where they belong – WILD !!
Great work everyone ! Keep it up !