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.
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.
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.
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.