By: Vicki, Brony, Charlie, Emma, jack, Ali.
Raleigh, formally known as Raleigh international, is a youth and education charity which gives people a chance to explore the world and by doing so discover their potential as leaders and members of a team working together to make a difference. Raleigh first began working in Malaysia in 1987 and since 2003 has been in Sabah, North Borneo.
This year has seen various projects developing across Sabah, with the help of Raleigh volunteers, including community-based projects, such as the installation of gravity water feed systems and the building of kindergartens. Raleigh also however, aims at enabling young people to get involved with environmental projects and as of this year this has included the development of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which Raleigh believes is the most exciting new conservation initiative in Borneo. This is a truly unique project and us volunteers on Raleigh’s third and final phase are excited about getting stuck into the work here.
The group consists of 11 venturers – Charlie, Emma, Ali, Bryony, Leo, James, Lottie, Vicki, Thijs, Andrew, Jack and 4 project managers – Jessie, Craig, Nicky and Phil. So far we have been cracking on with the “bear-proofing” of existing perimeter fences by installing metal rods into the ground. This process involves hammering 4ft iron rods securely into the ground so that the bears will not be able to dig under the fence as is naturally expected of them. We have also been dividing the enclosure into three separate areas to accommodate for the different behaviours and requirements of each bear. For example, bears of a similar age need to be kept together, more aggressive bears may need to be separated and the gender of the bears also has to be considered. Ultimately, Sun Bears potentially suited for re-release into the wild should be separated from those who would be incapable of surviving in the wild.
So far the project has been hard work, but exciting, as every day brings with it new experiences of all sorts. We’ve had encounters with the resident orang-utans of which there are two. One in particular has proved to be a great fan of relieving venturers of their water bottles and biscuits at break time. We’ve also had dealings with mischievous macaques, terrifying tarantulas and massive monitor lizards!!
There was excitement here at the BSBCC when Suria, a sun bear suffering with an injured paw, was deemed healthy enough to be moved to more comfortable surroundings after 3 months of recovery. The occasion was marked with a mutual sense of hope that the rehabilitation process of such bears will one day prove as successful as their neighbours at the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok.
Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest? I bet you have NOT!
Many people not even know about sun bear or seen a sun bear, let alone seeing one of them making a nest high on top of the trees.
Here is a rare opportunity of a lifetime to see a radio-collar sun bear building a nest in the rainforest of Borneo.
Don’t blink and please hold your breath until the end of the video.
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Sun bears in the wild make nest on tree and sleep on these tree nest like orangutans. However, nest building behavior is more common in forest where human disturbance is higher and large terrestrial predators like tigers, and leopards are presence. It makes sense for sun bears to make such tree nest and sleep on high on tree, some as high as 40 meters (128 feet) because it is much safer and dryer on top of tree. These nests usually consist of a pile of tree branches and twigs that are band over from the surrounding centered at a tree fork that close to the main trunk. The diameter of these tree nests ranges from a 1 to 2 meter. Unlike orangutan nest, sun bear rarely snap branches or break branches close by. I still lack of evident that they reuse these tree nests, and believe that they construct new nest every time they need one because wild sun bears tend to wonder a large range, unless there are important food resources available like a fruiting fig tree in the forest. Under this situation, sun bears tend to hang around the area until the food resource is depleted and they have to move on to forage for food. Although the metal baskets that we provide for our captive bears are very different from the natural nest, these bears still love them because these baskets give them a dry, safe, and cozy bed.
You can read more about the nest building behavior in my earlier blog:
There are so many stories that I had in my mind that I would like to blog about that told the world. However, finding time to do it always become challenging, or by the time I feel like I have a little time to write before bed time, my eyes and my fingers were too tired to work. Is this call aging??
Anyway, one blog posting that I always like to post is about the progress of the building construction of bear house. It has been going on schedule (consider a very good sign as most construction works here in this part of the world are always delay and fall behind schedule).
These photos were taken from the site on November 30th by Ian Hall. I let these photos speak for themselves. As you can see, we are getting there!
After the Phase 1 construction is done, our big challenge is to raise fund for the Phase 2. Believe me that we are still working hard to raise the fund need for Phase 2 but unfortunately we did not have a lot of success. If you know someone who can help, please help us spread the words.
Seriously, I am praying hard and working hard to find fund for this project. This is my hope, our hope, and the hope for the sun bears as well.
Thank you for all of your support and helps. Together we can make a difference!
Photos: Ian Hall