Text by Wai Pak Ng
I would like to introduce our newly confirmed staff Daniel Erikson Bin Majilir. Daniel joined BSBCC since 1st May 2010, and then he was under probation for three months. As his supervisor, I am glad to have Daniel working with us. He always follows instructions, ready for comments, and eager to learn new things. Besides that, he knows best in fixing and maintaining the electric fence. The most important is he gives good care to all our bears.
Now we have a total of three staffs who are David, Daniel and me working at our bear centre in Sepilok. Even though our sun bear team looks small but we work very hard and we are dedicated to work our best for the bears. If anyone is interested to join our team, there are always opportunities to volunteer here. Let us give those bears a better life and brighter future.
Ah Chong did nothing wrong. However, he has been living behind bars in metal cage and cement floor for the past 12 years. During his 12 years of captive life, he NEVER touches soil, smell the grass, sun bathing, and many other more things that a wild sun bear would do. Now, everything changed! Thanks to you and your support, he is doing many things that a wild bear would do: smell the grass, dig the soil, and enjoy the tropical sun! And.. Pikapoo! Now you see me! Now you not!
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Text by Dr Vicki Stokes
Hi! I am an ecologist from Australia and I have just spent the last 2 weeks volunteering with the BSBCC. I am very impressed with what Siew Te Wong and the centre staff have achieved since the establishment of the centre. The new bear house has been carefully designed with the welfare and enrichment of the bears in mind and the outdoor forest enclosures are fabulous. They provide space for the bears in natural forest habitat, where the bears will develop the survival skills required for their rehabilitation and release back into the wild. There are now 19 bears in care in such a short time of the centre being established. This is real indication of the need for facilities to house and rehabilitate sun bears in Sabah, Malaysia. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of Wong and the centre staff, the sun bears in care now have a future. But there is much more to be done at the centre and so ongoing support is needed.
In my 2 weeks at the centre, I have had an amazing and inspiring time. I would like to thank Wai Pak, David, Daniel and the sun bears (of course) for making me welcome and teaching me all about the centre and the sun bears in care. I have always loved sun bears but spending time with the bears at the centre has made me realize how truly special they are. You can spend hours watching them – climbing and swinging on the tyres and logs (young Ah Lun is getting better at this everyday), lying on their backs chewing on sticks or fresh greens with all four paws holding on (6 month old Toby is adorable when he does this), searching for hidden food items (this is particularly exciting for the newcomers Panda and Kudat), sleeping in their baskets (Om and Susie always look so serene), splashing themselves with water on hot days (I am sure adult male Linggam tries to give me a shower at the same time), or playing and tumbling with each other. They are intelligent and sensitive animals and so enrichment throughout the day is a very important part of their life at the centre. Not only does it stop them getting bored, but it teaches them life skills they need to survive in the wild, such as climbing and searching for and obtaining food. I look forward to returning to the centre in the future and I hope to see many of them doing well out in the forest and maybe even some released to live in the forest permanently. What an exciting day that will be.
Many thanks Wong for the opportunity.
By Dr. Vicki Stokes -BSBCC volunteer; Photo: Dr. Vicki Stokes and Wai Pak Ng
On September 10, Toby the youngest bear at the centre was moved from the quarantine area to the new bear house. He immediately started exploring his new enclosure and was quick to climb and discover the basket bed. He was particularly interested in the bears in the adjacent enclosures, which is a good sign that he may socialise well with other bears. For the first night Toby was left in the enclosure on his own so that he could adjust to the surroundings before interacting with other bears. The next day he was introduced to the young bears Julaini and Ah Lun in the enclosure adjacent. Toby was quick to initiate interaction with Julaini, playfully climbing on his back and following him between enclosures, but Julaini was not interested. Toby was then introduced to Ah Lun, a young female and they really hit it off. They spent the remainder of the afternoon playing and tumbling. Ah Lun is about twice the size of Toby, but it did not deter Toby from wanting to play and interact, and being a good little climber he was quick to follow her around the enclosures. There were many funny moments when Toby toppled over when standing on his hind legs to spar with Ah Lun. He is still not quite strong and co-ordinated enough to balance on his hind legs, but he will quickly develop these skills now that he has other bears to play with. After an afternoon of play, the bears were pretty tired and retired to their beds for a nap after some food. The following morning, all three bears cuddled up together in a basket bed, followed by an afternoon spent playing. Toby is settling in really well to the bear house – he is exploring, climbing, eating well, resting and interacting nicely with the other bears, all important for his development into a confident and independent bear.
Text by Wai Pak Ng
We had our 8th general meeting for the board members of BSBCC on the 8th September 2010. Both deputy directors from Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, together with theirs assistants attended the meeting. As usual we presented the latest progression of our centre, fund raising, the second phase design for visitor centre and viewing platform, volunteers helps, and other operational tasks. Everyone was glad to see the centre is expanding and operates smoothly.
The picture below was taken after the meeting, from the left, Ian Hall our architect, Cynthia Ong LEAP director aka mama bear, Sylvia Yorath the project manager of LEAP, Chris Trunkfield the assistant architect, and me. You can see we were all wearing the same T shirt. Many thanks to Ms Rika and Ms Wakana Koike who generously design the T-shirt for us, everyone loves it!
Recap from Part 1: Cerah is a female sun bear. Cerah means "bright" or "clear" in Malay language.
Two weeks after Cerah was confiscated and sent to Sepilok, Sabah Wildlife Department confiscated another pet female sun bear cub. We named her "Jelita," meaning "Lovely" in Malay. Jelita was few months older and larger then Cerah. She probably a year old on August 2007.
During that time, I was still conducting my fieldwork for my doctorate studying on wild bearded pigs and sun bears in Danum Valley Conservation Area, with logistic based in Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah. The field project, Bornean Sun Bear and Bearded Pig Research and Conservation Project, started on early 2005 and lasted until 2008. During this three years period, I frequently visited Sepilok on a 5 hours' road trip where Cerah, Jelita, and other confiscated sun bears were housed.
This is a photo album of the first medical checkup for both Cerah and Jelita.
This is a photo album of Cerah the sun bear since she was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2007. Her story is a typical story similar to hundreds if not thousands of caged sun bears sun bears kept as human's pets. Because sun bear cubs are small, cute, and harmless, and compounded with no shortage of baby sun bears as a results from bear poaching and habitat destruction, the keeping of sun bears as pets are not uncommon across Southeast Asia.
Cerah's early life was a sad one. Her mother was probably killed when she and Cerah wondering into oil palm plantation foraging for food as the natural forest that they used to live in was shrinking from logging and converting into oil palm plantation. The change made the natural food more and more difficult to find. Cerah was then captured and sold as pets, while her mother sold as meat, many of her body parts sold as traditional medicine and decorative items. We do not know how old was Cerah when she was captured. What we knew is that when this incident happen, Cerah was small, really small.
Cerah was considered a lucky caged bears in some ways. In Sabah and most of the SE Asia, sun bear is a fully protected species and the keeping of sun bear as pet is illegal. Neighbors of Cerah's owner reported the crime to the Wildlife Department. The department acted quickly by confiscated Cerah and brought Carah to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where all of the confiscated sun bears were housed by the department. This location later became Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
This is the story of Carah and me...