Text by Shelly Smith
Photos by Chiew Lin May
Following up on the indoor integration of the Mary and Natalie groups, today we saw the culmination of the exercise – the whole group outside sharing one forest enclosure!
By regularly allowing the indoor socializing and ‘wrestling parties’ these bears so love, the bear house team ensured the two groups remained on friendly terms.
Finally the time had come to test their ‘friendliness’ outdoors, where controlling a tense situation or fight would be impossible. A few of us entered the forest enclosure to scatter loads of fruit which would serve to distract from conflict, and fill tummies, hopefully creating a contented environment. Having only fed and observed from the feeding platform into this forest enclosure, I felt a little like being in someone’s home without their permission!
Then the bear keepers opened the bear house doors while we waited expectantly at the feeding platform, anxious to see who would be the first to arrive in the pen. It took a good 5 minutes before we finally saw Fulung and another of the Mary group trundling along, calmly foraging on the scattered fruit. We had another wait until we saw any of Natalie’s cronies come to investigate the main area of the forest enclosure. Slowly Rungus, Natalie and Julaini began to familiarise themselves with the change of environment. Fresh alliances were forged and tree trunks were explored. Curiosity ruled the day.
Late afternoon found Natalie relaxing under her new favourite tree with a new found favourite friend – Bongkud, while Ah Bui sunned her tummy as her latest cohort Rungus dug for termites. Debbie showed off her climbing skills and Fulung continued his endless search for tasty snacks.Fortunately the day passed wonderfully uneventfully.
Introduce the ten sun bears that share in one forest enclosure:
The bears all headed indoors for their much-loved evening meal; Julaini had chosen to stay indoors during this change of routine, which was probably fortunate as this young male could be a rough playmate with Fulung at times. While Natalie and Bongkud like to stay outside forest enclosure.
The next day proceeded to be just as peaceful and without any incidents. This must be a world first - successfully integrating ten bears into a single forest enclosure.
Obviously this is not ideal, much more space is required. But it shows how well the competent bear staff know their bears - to manage factors like age, sex, character traits, and hierarchies within established groups - to pull this off so smoothly in the limited space available. Congrats, guys, it was a great privilege to be involved in this venture!
Now Bermuda can have his turn out in the forest:-)
In preparation for our upcoming sixth year of operating as the BSBCC, and our transition into being a fully-functioning education center that will be open to the public 7 days a week, we took an important day-and-a-half out of our busy bear schedule for a staff retreat. We were very grateful to accept facilitation for the retreat from our partner organization LEAP (Land Empowerment Animal People) and leadership in team communication throughout the retreat from LEAP’s CEO and founder, Cynthia Ong.
During our time at the retreat, we created a timeline of each team member’s introduction with the centre, along with positive and negative experiences, which was inspiring and enlightening for us all. We also spend time discussing various aspects of the BSBCC that affect our overall progress, our ideals for successful rehabilitation and centre management, as well as, aspects that we look forward to developing. It was an engaging opportunity for the BSBCC team and LEAP to reiterate our mission, goals and vision for a successful centre and healthy transition into the new and improved Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre of 2014 and beyond.
Text by Gloria Ganang & photo by Tee Thye Lim & Tommy Johnny
The sun bears at BSBCC had a great day playing with enrichments made by the students of South Island School, Hong Kong when they visited the Centre on the 8th October 2013. Being in Borneo for the first time, the students are curious about this least known bear species. They get to learn more detail about the sun bears behavior by making observations on the sun bears in their enclosures.
A total of 21 students with 3 teachers spread around the observation platform, spotted a particular bear and observed their behavior. They were enthusiast to make fun toys or enrichments for the sun bears as soon as they had seen them. Enrichments were made using materials as natural as possible such as spiral ginger leaves, bamboo, fruits, vegetables, hessian sacks and banana leaves. Check out these kids cramping their heads constructing toys for the sun bears!
Apart from making toys for the sun bears, the students also handed some donations for the sun bears!
The students definitely spent a great time with the bears. Thanks to enthusiastic and passionate team from Ape Malaysia (http://apemalaysia.com/) for taking these awesome kids to visit the Centre!
Borneo Post Online, 13 October 2013
KOTA KINABALU: Neways International (Australia) is part of a global company dedicated to creating healthy people, healthy homes and a healthy environment.
The Neways brand is widely recognised as a pioneer in developing products that are formulated without the use of any potentially harmful ingredients.
Neways has offices in over a dozen countries, including Malaysia.
Some 200 of Neways’ top distributors from Australia and New Zealand are currently in Sabah to celebrate their individual and business successes in the Neways Diamond Adventure.
While in Sabah, both the company and its people are choosing to support the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in their ongoing efforts to reverse the plight of this often overlooked endangered species native to the island.
“’We’re planning on taking all of our people to the sanctuary itself so they can get a real feel for the work being done,” said Neways Managing Director Andy Kirss in a statement issued here yesterday.
“While I know the money we are donating will be an obviously welcome addition to the BSBCC’s work, I feel the awareness generated by the message getting out to the millions of Neways product users around the globe will be the real treasure in the long run,” he said’.
Among the attendees at the event is senior Neways Distributor Micko O’Byrne who made the unorthodox choice to join his colleagues in Sabah not by flying in, but by making the journey from his home in Western Australia by land and sea – with the land part of the journey on motorbike.
Micko has documented his journey on his blog, telling both a great tale and raising awareness of the Sun Bears as he has travelled across both Australia and Indonesia on his journey to Malaysia.
But why does an Australian company have such an interest in helping a relatively unknown species and even lesser known conservation organization?
“Neways has always prided itself on helping others,” said Andy, and added that “For over 25 years we’ve been staunch believers in giving back to our own communities and to helping people and causes around the globe. The people of Sabah have welcomed us with open arms and open hearts.
“To know that we can and will make a positive contribution and real difference to this beautiful place with such warm, caring people and its unique wildlife means we do more than just speak of corporate responsibility; we put it into practice in everything we do.”
KOTA KINABALU: Neways International (Australia) Senior Diamond, Micko O’Byrne recently arrived here after travelling over 5,000 kilometers on his motorcycle from Perth to raise funds for the Bornean Sun Bear.
Byrne told the Borneo Post that he left Perth, Australia, on August 15, and travelled across Indonesia on his motorcycle.
While travelling, Byrne constantly updates his blog and tells about his trip across Borneo to reach here and attend the Neways International Diamond Adventure held on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s founder, Wong Siew Te, said during the interview that they needed to raise RM1.3 million.
The amount will be used to construct the second forest enclosure for the sun bears, a perimeter walkway and a water treatment plant.
He added that the aim of having the facilities was geared towards attracting visitors to visit the sun bear enclosures which hopefully, will turn the facility into one that was self-sustaining.
“We want to open it to the public and generate income…this year has been hard for us (to generate funding). It is not easy to attain research grants,” he said.
Since the facility opened five years ago, the centre has become the home of 28 sun bears, all of which were confiscated from people who kept them as pets, he said.
“With the second bear house, we will be able to take an additional 16 sun bears,” he said.
“People find the sun bears very cute when they are small and want to keep them as pets. They shoot the mother and take the cub. But the sun bears are only cute when they are small. By the time they are eight to nine months, they become difficult to look after. They have strong claws and jaws and are natural born destroyers…in the wild, they provide stability,” he said.
Unfortunately, once the sun bears have been kept as pets, it is very difficult to rehabilitate them back into the wild, said Wong.
“It is easier with the young sun bears, but the old ones don’t integrate into the wild as easily. The forest has become a foreign place for them.”
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Gloria Ganang & Chiew Lin May
An event was held at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Sabah to capture the effort of wildlife conservation in Sabah and also in conjunction with the “Sabah Wildlife Department’s 50 Years anniversary celebration”. On last week (4th October 2013 till 6th October 2013), three of the BSBCC team members, Gloria, Ernie and myself where involve in this event. This event is an educational and public awareness programme focusing on the wildlife conservation activities in Sabah. The motto of this event is “Past, Present and Future” (Dulu, Kini dan Selamanya in malay language).
Several exhibitions were carried out by government agencies and NGOs to encourage people about the issue of protecting wildlife and their habitat such as
a) Sabah Wildlife Department
b) Tabin Wildlife Reserve Resort
c) Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)
d) Bornean Conservation Trust (BCT)
f) Sabah Swiftlet House & Bird’s Nest Industry Association (SWIFIN)
g) Tuaran Crocodile Farm
h) Reef Guardian
The public are invited to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is run by Sabah Wildlife Department. The park consists of zoological and botanical component.
On October 4 2013, we held the opening ceremony at 9.30am. A memorandum of agreement between the Sabah Wildlife Department, The Reef Dive Resort, Tours, and Sipadan Pom-Pom Island was signed for the protection of four marine turtles in Malaysia and their habitats.
Throughout the celebration, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park conducted various fun activities such as:
a) Up-close and personal with two elephant calf
- Wildlife Rescue Unit staff brought the elephant calves out and discussed the current threats that the Borneo Pygmy elephant is facing in Sabah.
b) Colouring contest
- Involved children one to twelve years old, and allowed them to express their artistry, creativity, and love for animals through wonderful colors.
c) Story telling contest
- Involved the secondary school students and the title of their story had to focus on the challenges and responsibilities around protecting wildlife in Sabah. This story telling helps conserve wildlife by raising awareness around the threats that endangered animals in Sabah are facing.
d) Story telling contest
- Involved the primary school students and the title of their story had to focus on the awareness that students have about our natural environment. Children are great fans of stories and love to listen to them. This contest plays a role into creating more awareness among the public.
e) Photography contest
f) Face painting
- A face painting booth- one thing that all kids love! This is a great activity which kids and adults can choose their favorite animals and have their faces painted in resemblance.
g) Wildlife Game
- A group of five students with one teacher is involved in this game. This is an adventurous learning activity related to wildlife. From the game, two questions are related to sun bears.
Question 1: What is the scientific name for the sun bear?
Question 2: What is the smallest bear in the world?
h) Catch the entertaining animal show at the Park’s Amphitheatre.
i) Recycled clothing contest
- Students created new designs and fashions using reusable items and their imaginations. Examples of the recycled materials they used are bottle caps, aluminium can tabs, wire, juice boxes, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, string, and feathers. The purpose of this activity is to create public awareness regarding the importance of saving the planet and the environmental benefits that recycling provides.
j) Eco-Fashion show by Miss Earth Sabah
- Recycled clothing is making waves in the fashion industry. In this fashion show all of the clothes were made from aluminium foil, DVDs, glass, metal, candy wrappers, and other recycled materials. The concept behind clothing made from recycled material supports saving the planet and would result in less pollution for a sustainable planet.
Thank you for supporters that support our sun bear!!
This event was a wonderful opportunity to learn about a variety of animals at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and share knowledge with the public. I really hope that this event helped raise awareness about the wildlife issues happening in Sabah, and encouraged people to react in ways that promote saving and conserving the Borneo wildlife habitat.
As of now the BSBCC has the capacity to rehabilitate 28 rescued sun bears, yet there are more bears waiting to be rescued from illegal captivity. Our dream is to house, rehabilitate and reintroduce these bears to their natural forest home. Today we can stand and watch, as this dream slowly becomes reality!
Each day construction of the new bear house grows closer to completion. The new bear house will allow us to care for more rescued bears. Under the architectural expertise of Arkitrek, the facility has been designed to encompass a variety of sustainable building techniques, which involves utilizing existing buildings and re-using enclosures wherever possible.
This also includes a system for harvesting rainwater, an innovative structure for natural ventilation and lighting, and even some solar power.
The construction design also considers our capacity to properly care for these bears through their different stages of rehabilitation. While the new bear house will allow bears access to a forest enclosure and areas for integration, the old bear house has been refurbished to accommodate new bears in a holding area with night quarters, a bear den, and a small nursing/examination area.
The current construction also incorporates a plan for integrative visitor educational areas, which remains one of the most exciting new additions to the BSBCC.
Part of the old bear house has been transformed into a visitor education and briefing area, which will be along the pathway of the new forest boardwalk leading to the observation platform. With this completed addition we will finally be prepared to OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
With each new brick laid, our parallel dreams of providing care to more rescued sun bears and sharing these lovely, little-known bears with the world becomes a realized vision that we will be grateful to announce.