Text by Siew Te Wong
The second phase of BSBCC developmental plan involves three components:
1) The upgrading of the access road to the 1st new bear house;
2) The access boardwalk from the car park all the way to the forest observation
3) The forest observation platform where visitors can view sun bears in the natural enclosure.
These constructions were kindly funded by the Ministry of Tourism of the Malaysia Federal Malaysia Government (MOTOUR) via Sabah Wildlife Department. The construction begun last September 2011 and finally completed on May 2012. July 14th is a big day for BSBCC as the official handling over of the construction from the contractor to BSBCC and to the Sabah Wildlife Department. A little "ribbon cutting" ceremony was taken part on that day. Md Jum Rafia, Deputy Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Md Sylvia Alsisto, the Superintendent of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, and myself who represent BSBCC cut the ribbon symbolized the completion of the construction project.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism (MOTUOR) for their kind support, Sabah Wildlife Department, Arkitek Summaz, Perunding Menara Sdn Bhd., Konsultant LCF, Dayana Enterprise, and Arkitrek for making this project possible. Together we make this project possible! Thank you all!
Text by Gloria Ganang and photos by BSBCC team.
The BSBCC is very fortunate to have volunteers from the Oakland Zoo, Oakland, California helping us in the process of building up the centre. They arrived on the 17th July 2012. They planned 7 days of their stay in Sabah at the BSBCC helping us doing husbandry works and enrichment for our bears, maintenance works, and research as well.
The volunteers comprise of 17 people of the age 15-19 years old and led by 2 group leaders, Melinda Seivert and Stacey Smith. We are also lucky to have Manuel as their tour guide who had worked hard together with the group at the centre. Each volunteers had experiences working in the zoo for at least a year. Sun bears are one of the animal species they have in their zoo. This was their first trip to Borneo, therefore they were very excited for their activities ahead. The group was given an introduction talk by our project manager, Wai Pak on their first day. It was followed by a tour around the centre. Later in the evening they helped us do a final clearing of construction bits and pieces around our newly constructed bridge and platform. The next 5 days, the teens was divided into groups and did various tasks of the centre’s improvement. They did husbandry works which include renumbering guillotine doors at bear house, repainting rusted cage bars and collecting dried leaves for bear enrichment. They also cleared leaves and branches around enclosure fences, cleaned hot wire along enclosure, piled up reusable wood materials, greased bolts on bridges outside enclosure fences, cleaned drainage and covered drain area with gravel. The group also made new enrichment for our bears which include 4 fire hose hammocks and 5
They also did a research on public knowledge of sun bears by interviewing visitors around Sepilok.
Wong (BSBCC founder and CEO) gave a brief lecture about sun bear ecology before the group get to experience the tropical rainforest adjacent to the centre. We traced animal footprints such as wild boar and mouse deer and bear claw marks on tree barks, saw some species of lizards, birds and insects. We also saw plenty of cicada and termite nests. The volunteers were fascinated with the different kind of living organisms in the rainforest. However, the attention went most to the all time famous leaches! Everyone helped each other making sure there were no leaches on them.
The group spent their last day watching our exclusive video of “Big Dreams Little Bears”. We would like to thank the group for their contribution to the centre. It was such a wonderful and enjoyable experience and we definitely learned a lot from them! Thanks for sharing your time, ideas, and laughers with us. Looking forward for another group to visit! Hugs and kisses from BSBCC team!
First of all a big apology for the delay to post this blog that was long due, especially to a group of very dedicated volunteers and fans who help us to make the fundraiser possible.
June 2 was a great day for the BSBCC. It was the culmination of the second annual Facebook Fundraiser for the BSBCC and the first year that I was able to attend a portion of the event because of the time difference in this part of the world. Last year I had to be out of the country to attend a conference in China (with no access to facebook in China :( ) and missed all the fun.
When I got online on June 2, I was met by a very enthusiastic group on Facebook. Everyone had wonderful questions about the sun bears and about the BSBCC's work in saving these bears. The Fundraiser began on May 15th with opening of the Sun Bear Kissing Booth. For each donation of $5 to the BSBCC the fundraising team would mail you a bright bracelet that said "Kissed By A Sun Bear". The bracelets were very popular, raising over $800. Both the bracelets and the cost of mailing the bracelets were donated by the fundraising team. The prizes for the June 2 portion of the fundraiser were all wonderful and donated by by friends of the BSBCC, as well as, the cost of mailing these prizes to their winners who represented many countries around the world including the US, Canada, Germany, the UK, Belgium and Malaysia. Prizes included several artworks of bears including one by Maria Collin who won the Golden George Award (like the Oscars for bear artists) for her rendition of Jelita one of the sun bears at the BSBCC. This prized possession went to Anita Phillips in New York. Other prizes included two jackets from Eco-Gear in Canada, many beautiful jewelry pieces, stuffed sun bears, a quilt, high quality photos and many other special prizes. Donors of $50 and up could adopt one of the sun bears for a one year period. There were 39 people who donated between $50 and $510, so the BSBCC now has many new sun bear parents. Their names will remain in the BSBCC for one year so that all visitors can see who has adopted the bears. A photo will be posted on this blog so that you can see. Many others donated equally appreciated sums of money to the BSBCC for which we are eternally grateful. Donations of any amount are always appreciated and needed. With the number of sun bears at the center, there is always much need. All together this fundraiser brought the BSBCC $4800 US in much needed assistance. All the new sun bear parents are very enthusiastic about helping their sun bear children and I have heard that there may be a special event near Christmas to raise money for extra enrichment toys for all the bears.
A special thank you to the fundraising team who worked many months getting ready for this fundraiser. They are:
Karen Bohannon, USA
Deb Bryan, Canada
Maria Collin, Gernany
Anna Gee, Australia
Deirdre Kingsman, UK
Jill Wheaton Lindsey, USA
Anita Phillips, USA
Wendy Allison Reese, USA
Anthony James Saunders, Australia
Maureen Shafer, Canada
Sheri Reese, USA
Carolyn Wilkins Watson
Special thanks to Sheri Reese who very hard to make this fundraiser possible and tons of email conversation with me. Thank you Sheri!
I also like to recognize the following individuals who donated more than US$50 and adopt one of our bear. Thank you all! You are now officially the parent of the sun bears! Congratulation!
Anthony James Saunders
Big Heart Bing
Lori Collins Lindsay
Mary Katherine Pozzini
Sarah Rose Zirbes
Wendell (Wendy) Tripp
Rachel Ann Williams
Estee S. T. Lim
Susan Schildhaus and daughter Avery Shildhaus
Dawn Edwards and Sue Edwards
All and all, it was great event. I really hope this event can be an annual event where all of us get together and raise the awareness of the plight of sun bears and fund for BSBCC. It is only when we all work together we can make sun bear from the least known bear to the well known bears!
I am inviting all of you to join and "like" our new fans page on facebook http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/#!/BorneanSunBearConservationFansPage
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Fans Page aims to provide a platform for all the supporters of BSBCC and sun bear lovers across the world to get together, to be friends, to share stories and thoughts, to spread the words and to raise awareness of sun bears. Everyone is welcome to visit and be part of the family of sun bear lovers.
With the helps from our new staff and volunteers, we also will launch our Official Page of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in facebook. PLease stay tuned. Our new website www.bsbcc.org.my is ready and going live as we speak.
Finally, thank you and thank you and thank you again and again to make the fundraiser possible and successful. Again, I am grateful to all of the volunteers listed above, especially Sheri Reese, to make this wonderful event a success!
Text by Siew Te Wong
"Come Mary my girl, come...." was the first sentence I said when I stood on the stage of TEDxKL last Saturday on July 14th. The 800+ audiences who were in the theater of Temple of Fine Arts at Brickfield, Kuala Lumpur, stretched their neck, anticipated to see Mary the sun bear walking on stage. I then clicked to my first slide: a photo of me and Mary the sun bear took last May when I walk her in the forest!
No, I did not bring Mary the sun bear to the stage of TEDxKL, instead I showed the photo of Mary the sun bear! I began my talk by asking the audiences if they know about sun bear before this TED's talk. From the stage, I saw about one third of the audience raised their hands. I then asked if they know about giant panda, a cute black and white bear from China, I saw almost EVERYONE raised their hand.
This is the problem that sun bear faced today. After 187 years sun bears was first described to the scientific world by American naturalist Thomas Horsfield in 1825, there are many people in the world still do not know much about a species of bear call sun bear. I therefore name the title of my TEDxKL talk as "Malayan sun bear: our long forgotten bear!"
TED was started in 1984 as a small conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design, to talk about how their ideas come together. Since then, the scope of TED has become even broader. TEDx is a program of local, self- organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. TEDxKL was the locally organized TED talks held in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
The theme of this year TEDxKL conference is "Interdependence". Sun bear is a good subject to show "interdependency" of sun bear and other forest residents, plants, animal, and all other organisms. All of these live forms, human included, are interdependence of each other to maintain a healthy forest ecosystem and better environment. By telling the sad story of Mary, I talk about the threats of sun bears and how Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is trying to help this little known bear.
At the end of the talk, I official launched the documentary "Big Dream Little Bear" which is now available online at http://distrify.com/films/597-big-dream-little-bears and our new BSBCC website http://www.bsbcc.org.my/. Big Dream Little Bear is the best example of "do what you do best to help sun bear" which was produced, filmed, directed, narrated by Howard Jackson and Audrey Low from Wildhoop Productions.
It was a great honor for me to be invited to give a talk at TEDxKL last weekend. It was an eye opening event to be able to listen to 12 others speakers' talks and learned from their experience and great works. I sincerely thank the organizer for this opportunity to talk about sun bear in front of so many live audiences last weekend and many more across the world who will view the video online. I simply cannot wait until the video is available online.
TEDxKL, you are awesome!
From the Raleigh Blog:
An Eventful Stay with Alpha 4!
Training is over and expedition life has well and truly begun! The Alpha groups all made it safely to their project sites.
I (Kate) had the pleasure of joining Alpha 4 for their first four days in Sepilok, and am happy to report that they have all settled in well, and are getting down to a lot of hard work in the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). Here is how they are getting on so far:
After a six hour bus journey which included a stop for lunch at a local market and an on board movie(luxury!) Alpha 4 arrived in Sepilok at 1pm, the hottest part of the day. Jungle camp is not too remote compared to many other project sites, but when it’s 31 ?c and very humid, a fifteen minute walk carrying heavy kit seems like at least 10 miles! However, Alpha 4 teamed, and sweated together, and got their entire kit(which included food, tools and their own bags) to jungle camp in under an hour. With longs-o-clock approaching it was a race to get hammocks set up, the long drop dug, food organised plus showers! By 5.10pm camp has been set up and the team decided if they all had very quick, and precise 3 minute showers everyone could get washed before 6pm and spend the night feeling refreshed! The showers at Jungle Camp are of the bucket variety, i.e. one bucket, one scoop and slosh! At first the V’s were a little daunted by these showers, but over the next few days everyone was looking forward and professing their love for the bucket shower!
Sunday was spent improving Jungle Camp and making it feel like home, followed by a meeting with Ypak,the Head Keeper at BSBCC and Adam, who is an intern with Arkitrek, an architect company that will be assisting with the design and construction of the bear refuges. We all got a tour around the centre, and even got to see some Sun Bears on our very first day!
As well as Sun Bears, we also saw a group of Makaks, including some very cute baby ones. However, we were warned that they are very mischievous, travel in packs and will approach if you have any food with you. For this reason we were advised to stay together in a group, and if approached by any, call the rangers- we were no longer saying “awwww” at this point!
Work started straight away on Monday with everyone getting up at 5.30 in order to get breakfast, do a radio sitrep(situation report)and get to the BSBCC, a fourty minute walk away by 8am. The team were divided into two groups in the morning, one to reclaim wood and the other to start clearing a path in the jungle where another bear enclosure would be.
Within the firsthour, Alpha 4’s first leeching occurred, with Bernice getting one on her stomach! By day’s end she had definitely made a few firm friends, getting 4 leeches in total, with Nas following close behind with 3! The wood clearing group also had their fair share of creepy crawly surprises, coming across alot of ants, scorpions, centipedes, some stunning butterflies and a giant stick insect!
By 2pm, huge progress has been made, with a long stretch of the jungle path having been cleared by Jermae, Josh, Berniece, Lucy, Nas and Euan. It went from this:
After lunch it was time for a team effort. There were two very heavy bits of wood stuck in the wood piles that required a team effort to get out(the tug of war practice from Raleigh Olympics came in handy here):
After removing the heavy wood, everyone moved to the jungle area to help remove a log that was blocking the path. The path that had been cleared was very boggy so we needed to come up with a way to lift it rather than drag it. After a bit of trial and error with the rope, Alison came up with the successful idea of rolling the log onto a curled rope to let everyone get a hold of it. This worked a treat, and the log was removed in minutes to the pile of wood that would be used for the bear refuges.
The work continued on Tuesday, with everyone ending up in the Jungle, and much to Charlotte’s disgust, pretty much everyone experienced a leech or two!The day got quite exciting when the team spotted a snake, and then an orangutan, just metres from where they were working!
According to Nick, it was 'the most eventful day of his life', and this is why; the events just kept coming...
A truly eventful four days with Alpha 4!
I’m off to Alpha 3 next, so will have the next update from there very soon!
Tuesday July 10, 2012Talking bears
WONG Siew Te will be sharing his passion for sun bear conservation at the TEDxKL event on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. He will be joining six other speakers who will all be talking on different topics; what brings them together is that they all have a passion that they want to share with anyone who will listen.
Among the other presenters at Saturday’s event are entrepreneur and philanthropist Derek Sivers, entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale, nanotechnology expert Dr Ille Gebershuber, writer-actor-director Jo Kukathas, photographer Zann Huang, architect and designer Kevin Mark Low, Sinar Project co-founder Khairil Yusof, and comedian Kavin Jayaram.
* For more story in The Star today.
Tuesday July 10, 2012
Papa bear’s story
By GRACE CHEN
One man shares his passion for a little-known bear in need of saving.
THE worry in Wong Siew Te’s voice is obvious during our telephone interview. The founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, had walked in to work to find Manis, a 12-year-old sun bear, lying motionless in her cage. According to Wong, no amount of coaxing could make her move.
Papa bear at work: Wong Siew Te, founder of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan, Sabah, will share his insights about savng this threatened animal at the TEDxKL conference this month. — Photo by Cede Prudente
Manis and Wong go back a long way. He prefers not to divulge details but of what is known, Manis was rescued from a pet owner. To Wong, it does not matter how the owner had treated Manis. Keeping sun bears, or any endangered animal for that matter, is illegal.
“It all boils down to the way they are acquired. The most common way is through the wildlife market. This means someone will have to go into the jungle to hunt for it. In the process, the hunter may have to kill the mother. It’s a vicious circle,” says Wong, 43.
While her living conditions improved tremendously when the centre rescued her, isn’t Manis still a pet in a cage, though?
* For more story in The Star today.
Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Dawn Tukalan & Thye Lim
The day at BSBCC on the 4th of July started with a big preparation for the Environmental Education Race (EERace) activity at the centre. The EERace is an environmental education programme held annually in the heart of Borneo districts of Sabah. It is organized by the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) under the Sabah Forestry Department, together with many government and private organizations. The aim of the race is to enhance and deepen teacher's knowledge and experiences on the environment.
A team of 4 participants and 3 facilitators reached the centre at 9.30 am with no idea of what was planned for them. The first activity was the “Bear Acting” activity where the participants was placed in cages as displayed animals. The BSBCC staff and facilitators acted as visitors. They were camera flashes and food thrown from outside the cages. The participants were also ignored for a few minutes, when everyone stepped away from the cages. The purpose of this activity is to allow the participants to experience what it feels like to be badly treated by people who visits displayed animals. Later, the participants shared their experience to everyone. They felt awful and threatened of the "visitor's" way of treating them. This unique experience encourages participants to understand the importance of prioritizing animal feelings and welfare.
The next activity was preparing “toys” or enrichment for the bears. The participants were given various materials such as cardboard, ginger leaves, ropes, honey, peanut butter and many kinds of spices. They were encouraged to use their creativity to construct "toys" for the bears. They produced great enrichment and the bears loved it!
The participants took a brief 30 minutes break before they continued with the tour around the centre. This focuses more on sun bear ecology and the aims of BSBCC as a conservation and rehabilitation centre for sun bears in Sabah. Since the sun bear is known as the “least known” species among the bears in the world, describing the sun bear facts to the participants are fresh and fascinating. The activity ended with participants detecting sun bear claw marks on the trees along the boardwalk. We hope the participants enjoyed their half day activities at BSBCC. Looking forward for more exciting activities on next year's EERace!
TEDxKualaLumpurIdeas Worth Sharing 14 July 2012 - Interdependence
Wong Siew TeBy admin on May 24, 2012in 2012, Speakers
Sun Bear Conservationist:
Known as the Sun Bear Man in some circles, Siew Te is in the midst of setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah. The project aims to save the oft-overlooked animals through research, education, rehabilitation and habitat conservation. His efforts are backed by the Wildlife Conservation Network, an innovative group that uses a venture capital model to protect some of the world’s most endangered species.
TEDxKL is happening on 14th of July 2012. Our theme is inspired by TED Speaker Tiffany Shlain's talk in last years TED Women. TEDxKL 2012’s theme “Interdependence”, where we seek to explore how every single entity, no matter how distinct or conflicted they may be, plays a role in each other’s survival, development, progress or change.