Text and Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Every bear carries different baggage arriving to BSBCC. But they learn everything necessary from the beginning in the forest enclosure with their friends.
In nature, sun bear cubs stay with their mothers until they two to three years old. When people take cubs away from their mothers, they also take away their chance of learning the survival skills from their mothers as well. If people only keep them as a pet in a small cage, they can never learn what they need to survive in the wild. This is the reason why our integration program becomes so important for the bears.
The best enrichment for a bear is another bear. When they spend their time with their friends, they can learn relevant skills from them. Besides that, socialization can help to reduce bears stereotypical behavior. The forest enclosure provides them with a natural environment and enough space where they can explore with lots of activities, such as foraging, digging, climbing and play fight with each other.
Sun bears are the smallest bears among the bear species. But, they have the longest tongue amongst their peers. Their tongue is about 25cm to 30cm long. They not only use their long tongue to lick the honey out of bee nests, but also eat small insects found in decayed wood, such as ants and termites. By using their long tongue, they can reach the deep inside of bee nests or decayed wood to get themselves lots of yummy treats.
Sun bears have a keen olfactory sense. In order to encourage them to utilize their sense of smell, food is scattered around in the forest enclosures by bear keepers. This will encourage them to do more foraging. In the forest enclosure, they can also forage for the small insects.
Sun bears have very strong canines and sharp claws. They are the excellent climbers. With the help of their curved shape claws, the can climb up trees reaching to 60m heights. Sun bears are the arboreal animals. They climb up on trees for sunbathing and resting. Besides that, there are using their claws for tearing apart the dead wood to get their important source of protein, the small insects as well.
Sun bears are a forest dependent species. The expertise of sun bears in their habitat makes them survive in the wild. However, poaching issues are still threatening their survival even though sun bears are a totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997. Poachers are continuously hunting them illegally for consumption, medicine or decorative purposes. Please save the sun bears. They deserve to stay in the wild free and happy. Thank you!
The Borneo Bird Festival was back again this year at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah from the 15th to 17th September 2016. This event was jointly organized by Sandakan Borneo Bird Club and Sabah Forestry Department, and was launched by Guest of Honor YB Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and
This festival is a celebration of the magnificent birds of Borneo and aims to create public awareness of bird conservation, to promote bird watching and enhance eco-tourism activities.
Various exhibitors also took part in this festival such as us The Bornean Sun Bear
Conservation Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks, Sepilok Junior Rangers, Sabah Foundation, Wild Bird Club of Phillipines, Leica, Nikon Malaysia, Canon Malaysia, and others. BSBCC team set up educational booths to help people learn more about sun bears and to make people aware of the ways our activities impact these animals.
We also prepared sun bear masks for the children to colour at the booth– they were excited to join the coloring activity!
A workshop and launching ceremony on ‘Sahabat Beruang Madu’ or ‘Friends of Sun Bear’ programme for Sabah region was held on the 8th and 9th of September 2016 at Felda Residence Sahabat, Lahad Datu, Sabah. This programme was organized by Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and FELDA Global Venture (FGV).
The objectives of this programme is to give opportunities for the FELDA communities and public to take part in wildlife conservation and works related to wildlife conservation in Malaysia, and also to create awareness on sun bears as one of the endangered species and to mobilize community to help government in the efforts of wildlife management in Malaysia, especially in FELDA plantations.
‘Sahabat Beruang Madu’ programme is a 5 year project collaboration between Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn. Bhd (FGV), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Department of Wildlife & National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN), and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
This programme was attended by project managers, staffs, workers and school teachers in FELDA area. We were glad to be invited to this programme to share BSBCC’s roles and efforts in sun bear conservation in Sabah. Several talks from FGV, MNS and BSBCC were delivered during this two days programme. Besides that, brainstorming activities in group were also conducted for the participants.
At the end of this programme, two committees (main committee and working committee) have been formed for the ‘Sahabat Beruang Madu’ Project for Sabah Region. This committee will act to organize and mobilize activities for ‘Sahabat Beruang Madu’ programme in the region such as awareness campaigns, trainings, visits, exhibitions, meetings, fundraisings, monitoring and networking.
Million thanks to FGV and MNS for inviting BSBCC to be part of this programme and help in sun bear conservation. We hope that more efforts can be done in the future to help the smallest bear species in the world and help us spread the words.
Text by Fetysella Olyndra Juli
Photo by Chiew Lin May
My name is Fetysella Olyndra Juli, I’m 22 years old and I am originally from Sabah, Malaysia. I am actually a practical student from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, studying Biological Sciences and this year I am doing my internship at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).
At first, BSBCC was my first choice when applying for internship place. Therefore, I was very delighted when I received an email, staying that there will be phone call interview for placement at BSBCC. I was introduced to BSBCC by my close senior from same university. She recommended this place because BSBCC do welcome students to do their internship here. This encourages me to go to BSBCC. Besides that, I never know that there is a rehabilitation centre in Malaysia for sun bears, which located in Sepilok, Sabah. By applying here, this will allow me to get to know more about the least known species in Malaysia, which is sun bears.
During my first day at Bear House in BSBCC, I was given an induction by co-supervisor Chiew Lin May about the rules and regulations, and what kind of work I will be doing at Bear House as well as the enrichments project. I was also assigned with one of the bear keeper, Roger, as my buddy and was greeted by the Bear House staffs, which they are very friendly and kind enough to show me around and teach me to do various kinds of activities. Those who are working at Bear House will be following the daily scheduled prepared by the staff. There are duties such as food preparation in kitchen, feeding session, Bear House cage cleaning and in afternoon, sometimes we will be working on enrichments, collecting banana leaves and bamboo, searching for dried leaves and termites nest and much more.
During my first week in Bear House, it is very tiring doing the works at Bear House because it required lots of stamina and energy, but after few weeks, I kind a used to the duties, especially when cleaning the bear cages. In afternoon, collecting bamboo was the hardest part for me because it requires me to use a lot of stamina and strength to carry the bamboo from another place to Bear House. However, it was a lot of fun because this is new to me and being able to do this has taught me about team work.
I got know most of the bears based on their face expressions and distinctive physical body. However, I was having quite a hard time recognizing the juveniles bear due to their looks was almost the same to me and by the way, my favorite bear is Bermuda. Bermuda is the dominant male bear and even though he known to be vicious by the staffs, his silly appearance captures my attention despite of his nature. Some of the bear have their own personalities which make it possible and easier for me to create enrichment for specific bear.
During my internship here, I also assists Lin May doing Integration for Along, Simone and Kudat as well as Fence Training for both Along and Simone. Integration is important to encourage the bears to develop positive behavior when interact with others, as well as learning skills from each other in preparation to go out to forest enclosure together. During my last week of internship, I have the opportunity to joined my supervisor, Thye Lim attending a community talk at Pitas, entitled ‘Bengkel Pengurusan Sumber Secara Lestari Berasaskan Komuniti’. Through this talk, I gained a lot of information in which how they are related with the conservation issues.
For me 84 days of internship days at BSBCC is a very short period. I’m very grateful to be part of the team in helping the staffs to take care the sun bears. I wish to learn more about the bears and the company itself. Last but not least, I would like to wish good luck to Mr Wong Siew Te and the Bear Care Team for their continuous effort in rehabilitating sun bears. Thank you so much again for all the memories and opportunities. May God bless you guys always.
Fetysella Olyndra Juli
On the 2nd of September, BSBCC started the day with big preparations for the Environmental Education Race (EE Race) activity at the Centre. The EE Race 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. The course, features 80% outdoor activities, participant-centered learning, group effort and interesting environment-related
When registering for an EE Race, all participants do not have any idea of what they are about to learn or where they are going! The first activity was the “Bear Acting” activity where the participants were placed in mini cages as display animals. The BSBCC staff acted as visitors, taking pictures with camera flashes from outside 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 visit displayed animals.
Later, the participants shared their experience to everyone. The next activity was preparing “toys” or enrichment for the bears. The participants were given various materials such as bamboo, 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 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 sun bears are the “least known” species among the bears in the world, describing the sun bear facts to the participants are fresh and fascinating. We hope the participants enjoyed their activities at BSBCC. We are looking forward for more exciting activities on next EE Race!