Celebrating Malaysia’s rich biodiversity, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) had attended Biodiversity Day 2022 at Dataran Sukau, Kinabatangan on 28 June 2022, under the theme “Building A Shared Future for All Life”. The ceremony was officiated by YB Datuk Jafry Ariffin, State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
Together with other NGOs and government organizations such as Sabah Wildlife Department, HUTAN, and Rainforest Discovery Centre, BSBCC opened an exclusive exhibition to support the effort of increasing awareness of biodiversity among the public. Endless students from SK Sukau and SMK Sukau came to our booth, filled with curiosity and interest in learning about the sun bears. Not only that, a coloring session was also prepared for the kids.
Following a talk session given by Sabah Biodiversity Centre and other NGOs, a quiz was conducted at the end of the program. The students and attendees actively participated in the session, showcasing their immense knowledge in Malaysia’s biodiversity.
It was a successful event. Thank you to those who visited our booth!
Text by Avril Lim Shu Ting
Photos by Seng Yen Wah
“There’ll be a lot of hiking to do. We hiked almost every day.”
Well, that didn’t deter me from applying for my internship at BSBCC. In fact, I was so over the moon about it as I am an outdoor person and one of my pastimes is hiking. Yes, we hiked a lot indeed. It may sound tiresome, but the fact that my stomach would start rumbling every 3 to 4 hours usually turned me off when I was all pumped up for work. (*Inserting a laughing-while-rolling-on-the-ground emoji*)
“Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help.
Only if we help, we shall be saved.” - Jane Goodall
One of my dreams is to be involved in any conservative efforts; however, most places require certain payment to do so, and I had no idea that BSBCC offers scholarships for Malaysians to participate in volunteering programs. During my internship with my coursemates, we had an opportunity to speak to the founder and the CEO of BSBCC himself, Dr. Wong. He is truly inspirational and his immense love for wildlife is unfathomable. During our talk, Dr. Wong mentioned the quote above which to this day, is still imprinted in my heart deeply. I lived my dream for two weeks and what a way to contribute to the conservation and rehabilitation of sun bears albeit a little!
Meeting the sun bears
Wildlife is feral and human intervention should be as minimal as possible. On the first day, I was terrified but at the same time in awe to have seen the sun bears at such a close distance. Their claws are long and sharp and their canine teeth, needless to say, could just rip you apart. As I was volunteering there, my fear gradually faded away as I learnt more about their behaviour and some amusing attitudes, like how Kudat, the sun bear, would bring his feed to his basket and eat it to his heart’s content while lying on his back.
“Amaco is the oldest bear here. He has never set a foot in the earthy ground.”
Amaco, the 29-year-old bear, was brought up in captivity and he has ever since feared of the outside world. To him, the cage is the safest place for him. Seeing his long claws and him walking abnormally with his claws curving towards the ground, I could somehow feel the pain he is going through. Everyone is required to make an enrichment project for the sun bears and at first, I wanted to make something huge like a hammock for my favourite sun bear, Sigalung, who is known for his muscular upper body and eating his favourite feed on his back like a baby. On second thought, I should help Amaco to improve his life quality, to alleviate his suffering even though it is not much. Therefore, my buddy, Jude, and I built a scratching board for Amaco to “trim” his claws. I named it Modified Scratching Board as we put some feed beneath the wood planks to encourage him to scratch the board for a transitory pleasure. HE DID IT!
Truly, I had an amazing adventure and experience volunteering here. My eyes are opened to the wonders and efforts in conservation and rehabilitation. The firsthand experience is absolutely remarkable, as it is not mere popcorn and National Geographic channel. Lastly, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the bear keepers, the staffs and Dr. Wong for providing me with such a wonderful opportunity and guiding me throughout my internship. Thank you! <3 (That’s less than 3. Such is love.)
Text by Aminah Saudah Mazidah binti Zulkefli
Photos by Aminah Saudah Mazidah binti Zulkefli & Seng Yen Wah
Living as an "Aminah" is a bit complicated when it comes to making life decisions because this girl right here always has another thought (or what ifs) stuck on her mind. But as she grows up, she learns to be confident in anything she does. Well, here she is, sharing a story about how she ended up volunteering with BSBCC — the best of the best internship experience she ever had.
Hello! It's me, Minah, another volunteer from DVM UPM who broke into tears on the last day of the internship because I don't want to go back to Selangor yet. The very first reason I wanted to volunteer at BSBCC was because I looooove outdoor activities (hiking, trekking etc.) a lot. So the first thing that came into my mind was doing outdoor activities and I was like, "Wahh, this must be good for me, I think I'm gonna like it". And yes! I love it so much to be there, at BSBCC. It was hard to describe how content I was for the whole one week working (read: volunteering, but I really feel like I was their staff HAHA!) there. Another reason was that I have very little exposure towards wildlife animals and their conservation, so I thought BSBCC could be the kickstarter for me to gain experience and knowledge in the field.
What I was really grateful for while being there doing my internship was knowing the staffs, Dr Wong, Dr Boon, bear house team, and for sure, the bears. I learned so much from them, the academic and life value aspects — friendship, teamwork and perseverance. Working in the bear house with the team has taught me a lot of these things, and I will treasure them (the lessons, the people and the bears) for the rest of my life. I could not express my gratitude toward all of them in any other way rather than praying that He will repay every one of them at BSBCC for their kindness, sincerity and selflessness. May He ease your way and ours as well.