As I was doing a random search of “sun bear” on the internet, the photos of Lailani, a sun bear cub born on Feb 25, 2008 at Friederichsfelde Zoo, Berlin, Germany, popped out from my computer screen. No double that out of eight species of bears, giant pandas are recognized as the cutest bears. However, if you have seen a sun bear cub, the smallest of all bears, I am sure you will agree with me that they are so cute and deserve our love and help to help them from all kind of threats, like the one in my post earlier- being killed brutally for food and aphrodisiac.
One big problem for sun bear conservation is that sun bear are not well known like other charismatic animals. Many people never heard about sun bear or seen a photo of a sun bear. I hope BSBCC and this website can show the readers and the world the most wonderful images and photos of sun bears, although sometime I have to post graphic images of this poor animal being cut into pieces by our own kind. We need to help them. Please help them.
Posted at http://www.petsugar.com/1885610
It's No Lie That Lil Lailani Is the Cutest Sun Bear!
Fri, 08/22/2008 - 9:50am by PetSugar
"Please, I said no close-ups right now!" But, you can't blame the photographers, lil bear because you are absolutely adoro! This six-month-old cub just had her press debut today in Berlin (once again, Germany must be land of baby animals!).
Meet Lailani, a Sun Bear, born Feb. 25 to proud bear'rents (ha!), Tina and Johannes. While the species can be found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia in the wild, this gal's at the Friederichsfelde Zoo . . . so we can check out tons of super-cute
Text by Ian Hall
Our proposal for a Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Borneo has moved closer to reality thanks to an extravagant Fundraising Dinner held in Kota Kinabalu in November.
The event which was organised by our partner LEAP succeeded in raising over half a million ringgit. This money was then matched one-to-one by the State Government to give us a total which we hope will be enough to build Phase One.
The first priority is to enclose 1 hectare of the Sepilok Forest Reserve with electric fences. This will allow a controlled release of bears into their natural habitat.
All of the bears currently held at Sepilok have been confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department, usually from the pet trade or mini-zoos. These bears have become habituated to humans so if we just let them loose again in the forest they will either not have the skills to survive, or would make a nuisance of themselves and end up back where they started, or worse.
Phase One will provide the means to look after the welfare of up to 27 bears, for the rest of their lives if necessary. The capacity is limited by the number of night time dens and the number of forest enclosures.
A new bear house is to be built with denning for 20 bears plus food preparation, staff areas and a training pen. The training pen is used to teach the bears about electric fences! Meanwhile the existing bear house will be converted to be used for quarantine, treatment and birthing and then later extended to house a visitor centre.
In design terms the biggest challenge is facilitating the movement of bears and making life easy and safe for both the bears and their keepers. Imagine the logistics of releasing 20 bears each morning into the correct forest enclosure and then getting them all back in again at night!
In the wild, sun bears live at very low densities and are generally solitary. In captivity they can become quite sociable but there is a risk that mixing the wrong bears could result in a brutal fight.
Making the building sustainable is of course high on our agenda. The bear house will use a lot of energy in operation and will embody plenty more in the construction materials.
We can mitigate the latter to a certain extent by using pre-cast concrete floors and lightweight block walls, but are constrained by the need to use concrete to raise the dens above flood level and to provide a surface that can stand the daily wash-down.
The access corridor between the dens will be floored with bio-composite boards which are made from recycled HDPE plastic mixed with a natural fiber - in this case rice husks.
To make the buildings comfortable for both bears and keepers we use large areas of natural ventilation plus a bituminous fibre roof sheeting which does not transfer heat as well as steel and also has the benefit of deadening the drumming of rain, which can be uncomfortable in a tropical deluge.
Luckily the site allows us to orient the building East-West which helps to minimise solar gain in the concrete structure.
As the centre will use large volumes of water for cleaning we will put in as many rainwater tanks as we can afford and link them together with electric pumps. These pumps together with the electric fences and a large fridge will be the biggest energy consumer in operation. Given the high cost of on-site power generation I don’t think we can do much about this at present.
Greywater from washing down the cages will be treated in a septic tank and reed bed filter before being recycled. Solid waste will be scooped up daily from the dens and fed to a bio-digester from which we plan to capture methane to be used to cook the bear’s food. The staff toilet and any food scraps will also feed the digester.
Completion of Phase One is expected in late 2009. Meanwhile we will continue to raise funds for Phase Two. This will help the case for economic sustainability by offering a visitor centre, observation gallery and environmental education program. On completion of both phases the centre will complement the nearby Sepilok Orang-utan Centre and Rainforest Discovery Centre thus strengthening Sepilok’s reputation as a hub for environmental education and nature tourism.
Beside Gabriella and me studying sun bear in the wild in 1998-2001, the third student who studied sun bear at the same time was Fuyuki Nomura. Fuyuki was a doctorate student from Hokkaido University, Graduate School of Environmental Science, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. He studied sun bear ecology and sun bear usage of oil plan plantation at Tabin Wildlife Reserve, eastern tip of Sabah. Among three of us, Fuyuki caught and radio-collared the first sun bear in Borneo in early 1999 and successfully caught 2 males and 2 females sun bears for his study:
Nomura, F., S. Higashi, L. Ambu, and M. Mohamed. 2004. Notes on oil palm plantation use and seasonal spatial relationships of sun bears in Sabah, Malaysia. Ursus 15:227–231.
The first scientific paper on sun bear was not published by any three of us who were studying sun bear in the wild in late 90’s. It was a paper published by Kim McConkey in 1999 describing how sun bear play an important role as seed disperser in Bornean rainforest. Kim was at that time doing her doctorate dissertation with University of Cambridge, in rainforest of Barito Ulu, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia Borneo.
McConkey, K., and M. Galetti. 1999. Seed dispersal by the sun bear Helarctos malayanus in Central Borneo. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15:237-241.
Another important scientist who contributes important publications and one of the very first publications on sun bear in late 90’s and early 2000’s was Erik Meijaard. Although he did not really study sun bear like Gabriella, Fuyuki and me, Erik has been very productive on sun bear publication and has long interest in sun bear and other large mammals in Southeast Asian mammals, especially Indonesia such as orangutan, bearded pigs and many others. He is a senior ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Indonesia and the Kalimantan coordinator for the USAID-funded Orangutan Conservation Services Program. He publishes the monthly newsletter Forest Science News and frequently writes for newspapers and scientific journals.
Meijaard, E. 1998. The Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus ) on Borneo, withspecial emphasis on its conservation status in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
International MOF Tropenbos Kalimantan Project and the World Society of the Protection of Animals. London. 51pp.
Meijaard, E. 1999a. Ursus (Helarctos) malayanus, the neglected Malayan sun bear.Netherland Commission for International Nature Protection. Mededelingen No.34. 62 pp.
Meijaard, E. 1999b. Human imposed threads to sun bears in Borneo. Ursus 11:185-192.
Meijaard, E. 2001. Conservation and trade of sun bears in Kalimantan. In: D. F. Williamson and M. J. Phipps (eds). Proceedings of the third international symposium on the trade in bear parts. pp: 26-37. TRAFFIC East Asia, Hong Kong.
Meijaard, E. 2004. Craniometric differences among Malayan sun bears (Ursusmalayanus); evolutionary and taxonomic implications. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 52:665-672.
To be continue..
Yesterday as I was up dating my resume, my mentor who is also my first employer in the field of wildlife conservation, Prof Kurtis Pei from Taiwan, sent me an old photo of me taken way back in 1992 when I was working with him. This photo really brought up a lot of good memories of my younger days working in the field. Yes, I was young, energetic, and full of passion and enthusiasm to do wildlife research and conservation work.
I was holding a radio-collared male Formosan Reeve’s muntjac at Little Ghost Lake Forest Reserve some 2000 m above sea level. I was about to release this muntjac or barking deer after our aborigines guide caught him and I fitted him with a radio-collar. The study was the first radio-telemetry study of this species in the mountainous forest of Taiwan. It was the beginning of my life working in the forest and working with wildlife. The project pretty much changed my life and career. From then onward, I was doing nothing but to study wildlife and working closely with wild animals for the following 16 years until now.
I know what you are thinking. Yes, it was me in the photo!
Looking back at my long list of resume, I was young once, doing what I love and doing what I believe to be the right thing to do.
You can read more about the study at:
McCullough, D. R., K. C. J. Pei, and Y. Wang. 2000. Home range, activity patterns, and habitat relations of Reeves' muntjacs in Taiwan . Journal Wildlife Management 64(2): 430-441.
Today is already the first day of December 2008. Sun bear still remains the least know bear in the world. Almost everyone know about bears. They know polar bears, grizzly bears, American black bears and giant pandas because these are the bears that they seen in the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel, movies, advertisements, bill board, news articles or any kind of mass media you can think of. A small portion of the people know Andean or spectacle bears from South American, sloth bears from India, and Asiatic black bears from Asia. However, only very few people know about sun bears. This is a sad fact.
One of the biggest reasons for sun bear remains so little known is the lack of biological studies on this species. Until now, there are only 3 ecological studies that involved trapping and radio-collaring of wild sun bear in the world. One of them is my study base in Danum Valley Field Center and Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. I did my Master of Science (MSc) project on studying the ecology of sun bear from 1998 – 2000, and then continued the study, by looking at the effects of logging on sun bear and bearded pigs for my doctorate degree.
Here are lists of publications with PDF from my M.Sc. studies:
Other publications, reports and articles from my sun bear works:
The second person who studied sun bear and know more about sun bear than anyone on earth is Gabriella Fredriksson. She is the co-chair of the sun bear expert team of the Bear Specialist Group/IUCN, has been working for many years on sun bear conservation issues in Kalimantan, Indonesia and has been involved with the development of the first sun bear education center in the region.
Currently Gabriella is assisting with the redesign of forest and conservation management for the province of Aceh (Sumatra), in a team established by the Governor of Aceh. Aceh with 3 million ha of contiguous forest has probably the most viable habitat and populations of sun bears and many other threatened species in Indonesia (orangutans, elephants and tigers).
I found this newspaper article written some 10 years ago when she first attempted to reintroduce 5 adult sun bears into the wild: “In Borneo's Fading Jungles, a Grim Tale of Wildlife.”
Here is a list of her publications on sun bears: