The BSBCC team visited 5 schools located at the Tenom district in Sabah for an education and awareness programme. The outreach programme organized by NGO, HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme in partnership with Sabah Wildlife Department and BSBCC aimed to raise awareness on the important needs to protect the environment and wildlife within the state of Sabah. More than 1000 students, teachers and school administrative staff were reached throughout the 5-day programme. The organizing team were glad to have support from each schools and hope participants gained bountiful knowledge on environmental and wildlife protection in Sabah.
BSBCC is very delighted to be the collaborator for the Sun Bear Hero Programme organized by Maktab Rendah Sains MARA Tun Mohammad Fuad Stephens (MRSM Sandakan), where the activities were mainly conducted by their students themselves. Our Environmental Education unit officers has also given some information on the sun bears and insights about the centre by giving presentations, setting up exhibition booth, and running several mini activities. It was a great effort by the school for their Sustainability Development Goal 2030 project which focuses on Goal 15 (Life on Land), with their main objective this year is to get funding for the centre while sowing and increase the awareness of students on the importance to care and conserve the environment through the Kahoot challenge, Minecraft Education Edition, Digital Story with Microsoft Sawy, and #MyVoice #SavetheSunBear campaign. At least 200 students which includes 10 primary schools were involved in the Sun Bear Hero Education Programme.
Charity Night Market (or Tamu Gadang Amal) were also organized by MRSM for the night session, where the profits were contributed for our share bear adoption programme: little Miss Kitud. An adoption gimmick was also done after some student performances and speeches from all respective parties involved.
Text by Jonas Bolin
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
My name is Jonas Bolin and I am 18 years old and live in Sweden. I am right now studying to become an animal keeper and will graduate this spring. I was one of the lucky few to get the opportunity to do my internship at bsbcc which I am so grateful for. This trip was going to be the biggest adventure of my life and I could not be more excited about it. However, this was one of the most incredible journeys I have ever imagined and I was planning to gather so much experience.
I am right now at the end of my internship at bsbcc which of course is very sad, but when I look back at my time here I could not resist to smile. These five weeks has been so incredible and I have earned more experience than I could imagine. However, the first two weeks was mostly focused of learning the routines for me. It is always so many new things to learn wherever you go and when they told me to learn all the bears names and identify them I thought they were crazy. I thought it would be hard enough to learn the names of the staff. But after the first two weeks I started to learn all the different behaviours and the characteristic things among the bears, which was a pretty cool feeling if you ask me. But all this was thanks to all the keepers that had patience with me and told me that we learn by mistakes which made me try until I succeeded. It is so inspiring to see all these hard working people and see how much they care for Sun bears. They have taught me a lot about Sun bears and its importance to the ecosystem here in Borneo and what we have to do to make sure they can survive in the wild. I cannot thank these guys enough and I wish them the best of luck in the future because they are some of the best people I have met in my hole life. One moment I will remember for a long time is meeting the founder of bsbcc Dr. Wong Siew Te. He is such an inspiring man who care so much for the animals and their environment. I have a feeling that he has started something big that will lead to a new level of animal caretaking in many places of the world.
So during my weeks I have as I said gathered so much experience. I have so much work experience which I will bring me for my whole life and my future carer. What is more is that I have gathered even more life experience during this trip which has made me a new person, I can handle so much more than I thought before. I will use all this experience my whole life and make sure to always remember this adventure. But most of all I will remember all the friends I have found down here, even if we cannot make sure that we will see each other again I will always have them in my mind. Of course I will miss the bears as well and they will always have a special place in my heart.
So this adventure was not what I was expecting, it was so much better. I will therefor thank BCBCC and APE Malaysia for making this dream come true. I will miss everything so much and I am really looking forward to see what this centre can become in 10 more years.
// Jonas Bolin
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
Little Romolina is a six months old female sun bear cub who was kept in a small cage as a house pet at Kampung Romol, Sapulut, Sabah.
The owner claimed that they found the cub alone in the forest and he had kept her in his house. We believed that Romolina’s mom was killed in order to take the cub from the forest. Bob Hartley and Virgil Joon Gunting got knowledge about this cub and quickly helped save her from the villager by negotiating with him to hand over the cub. She was immediately handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department then sent to BSBCC and placed into quarantine on the same day on July 7th, 2018. During the arrival, she was tiny and weighed 5.95 kg. She was suffering from severe malnutrition. The owner fed Romolina rice, cereals, sausages, fruits and no milk was given to her. She was also being confined in a small cage which restricted her growth. The name “Romolina” was given by the person who rescued her. She was named after the Romol village where she was rescued from.
Romolina is the youngest female sun bear cub at BSBCC. She is kept under close observation around the clock by bear care staff in quarantine.
She was subsequently found to be malnourished and showed signs of stunted growth. Consequently, her claws and teeth appeared too big for her tiny body as a result from an unbalanced diet.
Little by little she has grown to know that she is in a safe place. She adapted really well to her new environment.
During these two weeks she has gained more weight. She has a good appetite but is choosy in accepting a diet of fruits and vegetables. She loves watermelon and Honey!
Little Romolina enjoys playing with enrichment toys.
The enrichment plays a vital role in encouraging Little Romolina – to be a sun bear again! She gets really curious and stands on both her hind legs then gets excited about it! Romolina will use her long sharp claws to tear and destroy the enrichment. She always shows curiosity in new toys and treats where she will learn to dig, climb and destroy the enrichment!
She learns climbing too. She will climb up to the basket or sleeping platform or when there are treats around. As a sun bear cub she will spends most of the day sleeping on the ground or hammock platform.
She is just enjoying her new found second chance of freedom.
Poor Romolina had been kept confined in a cage alone for a long period. It can be seen that she has a habit of sucking her front left paw or rubbing her back near care takers, and she vocalizes to seek comfort and safety. She shows more attachment to humans and appears tame. She needs special care and attention. She should still be with her mother learning how to survive in the forest.
Slowly, Romolina will learn to trust the new environment and put her past behind her. It was truly a blessing when watching Romolina grow more confident and healthy. Please speak up against the illegal pet trade and protect them from extinction!
Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May
Found abandoned near Lokan River, Kulu-Kulu Village in Sabah and kept in a cage for three months as a house pet. He was then surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 19th of May, 2018. Every year, orphaned sun bears are rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department or are surrendered by local people. Sun bear cubs are targeted for the illegal pet trade, hunted for food or used in traditional medicine. It is believed that their mother will be killed so that the poacher can snatch the bear cub. In the wild, sun bear cubs will spend the first two to three years of their lives with their mom. Without his mother to teach him the skills he needs, the sun bear becomes incapable of being released back into the wild and they must rely on our rehabilitation support.
The rehabilitation process after his arrival starts with strong bonding with his surrogate mother (bear care taker), where he slowly gains trust, strength and can be a wild bear again. The surrogate mother then will be assisting in daily walks in the forest with the bear cub to give them a second chance to learn all of the skills needed to survive in the forest.
The youngest male sun bear cub, Logan has settled happily into his new life. You can see how much little Logan has grown in that time and how chubby he is now with a weight of 15.10 kg.
This brave bear that has lost his mother endured a lifetime of suffering in captivity and has never known the wild freedom he was born to have. On the 7th of June 2018, Logan finally felt the sunshine and grass under his little paws again!
Logan will get to play in the forest, learn to forage, climb trees and explore the forest. He learns to trust every day. The surrogate mother is helping little Logan to learn just how to be a wild bear!
Day by day it is such a blissful time in the morning, he knows when we are going to start walking him in the forest. He will quickly climb down from his basket and without hesitation he will run into the dense forest. He is developing very well and showing great progress with his forest skills.
No surprise – he is always busy foraging and filling his tummy! Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores. For Logan, he loves to dig by using his sharp curved claws and strong teeth in search his favourite wild food - termites, ants, insects, pill millipedes and bird carcasses. When he finds something for his own, he is very happy about it! Sometimes Logan will stand up on his hind legs to get a better smell or view of something that attracted his attention.
Logan was missing his left thumb and his left front paw has developed abnormally, but these have never made give him up and he is always full of enthusiasm climbing trees. He loves to learn new skills and develops his small muscles every day! He is an agile climber where he uses his powerful legs, feet with hairless soles and sharp claws to climb the tree. Right after foraging he will choose a tree he loves and climb it. He learns the way to climb trees or liana and just enjoys the beautiful sun view! He is so brave! He always wants to make the most of what he has got! Only sometimes he will easily get tired after he tries to climb too many trees.
When he gets excited roaming the forest he will start to play fight and wrestle with his surrogate mother. He loves to play with anything and everything.
He is a very active little bear! He knows the way to the stream and enjoys dipping, chilling in the stream or laying his snout deep in the water to beat the hot weather! Logan takes great pleasure enjoying his freedom each day in the forest.
For little Logan, his newfound freedom has meant to him: tearing decayed wood, finding his favourite food such as termites, sun bathing, and soaking in the stream. We cannot wait to see the next challenge he has to learn to grow every day.
Looking at these pictures, it is hard believe he is a huge part of the forest life now and is also catching his daily experience in life. Watching him is like watching any bear cubs in the wild!
12th July 2018: The new school library's design adapts the Sun Bear as their main theme and it was a great pleasure for BSBCC to be a part of their launching today. Many thanks to the school especially to their headmistress, Mdm. Tan for the invitation and the designer of the library, Mr. Edward Tham for having the idea of spreading awareness of our endangered sun bear to the students by placing information boards around the library. It is also a great effort from the school to place a donation box on the library counter and to give self-designed bookmarks as token of appreciation for those who donated RM10 and above. The school already managed to collect RM2000 so far and the amount were given to BSBCC as part of their Share Bear adoption plan. We hope to have more collaboration with SJK (C) Tai Tong in the future and more schools will incorporate the Bornean Sun Bear as part of their school events or activities.
#PowerShiftMsia collaborated with Eco Campus Management Centre (EMC) and UMS Borneo Marine Research Institute to run a four-day climate action training camp at Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. The camp was sponsored by Global Environment Facility (GEF), Small Grants Programme (SGP) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), completed with mentors and trainings to equip their participants with the necessary tools and skills to work on projects/ideas to improve environment among Sabah community. BSBCC send off two of our staffs from the Environment Education Unit, Mdm. Risnayati and Ms. Melynda to participate in the camp. The training camp served as a capacity platform and has been emphasizing on different useful aspects, escpecially in project management, creative campaigning, community engagement, media and communications, and policy learning. It is also an experience to strenghthen climate/environmental knowledge, besides generating ideas to make a difference in tackling climate change and environmental issues in the Sabah community. Participants from a whole range of youth were selected in joining the training, from local postgraduates to students from Politeknik Sandakan and the non-profit group from BENTERAKATA. We are excited to bring in the skills that we have just learnt into our education modules.
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
“We always hope this is the last bear taken from the wild and then it happens again; more efforts are needed to STOP this from happening”
A four months old female sun bear cub, Romolina was kept as a pet in a small cage for about three months until a person got knowledge of her and quickly rescued her from a villager by negotiating with them to hand over the bear. The owner claims that he had found the bear cub at forest alone and took her home then kept her as a pet at Kampung Romol, Sapulut, in the interior division of Sabah. Romolina (Rescue No.58) was handed-over to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC today (7th July 2018).
As it is always with sun bears that young, she has been stolen from her mother as a cub and kept as illegal pet that lived her life locked up in tiny cage. We are not sure exactly what happened to Romolina’s mother, but we know a mother would not abandon her baby alone in the forest. She is now safe in our care and will go through routine quarantine. She will be given a full medical checkup. Thankfully she was rescued, and we are thankful to the responsible person who saved her life.
This is the second orphaned sun bear that was rescued in 2018 and given into our care. Sun bears are under serious threat in the wild. This is worrying as it shows that poaching is still happening out there with the rampant sale of sun bears as pets or illegal bear bile medicine, and this will bring sun bears on the brink of extinction soon.
Please remember that a sun bears should never be been taken away from their mothers in the wild and kept as illegal pets. We need to continue our fight for the survival of this species by ending the cruel demand for bear parts, and by strengthening wildlife laws and enforcement. Let’s PROTECT them, before it is too late!