May the good times and treasures of the present become the golden memories of tomorrow.
Wish you lots of love, joy and happiness.
Text by Tee Thye Lim
Photo by Dr. Sen Nathan and Tee Thye Lim
Avian Influenza, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H1N1 are the types of diseases that share one common trait – they are animal-related. In other words, they are zoonotic diseases which are able to transmit between animals and humans.
A 4-day Regional Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife was held starting on the 26th November 2012. The workshop was organized by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) cooperating with EcoHealth Alliance (partner of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program).
Crews from Sabah Wildlife Rescues Unit (WRU), Sabah Wildlife Health Unit (WHU), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) were invited to participate in the workshop to learn more about the emerging infectious diseases from wildlife, since most of the participants will be the front line dealing with wildlife, knowledge on safety precautions and diseases is very important in order to avoid unhappy incidents.
The EPT program consists of four projects: PREDICT, RESPOND, IDENTIFY and PREVENT. Within these four days, the workshop covered the part of PREDICT project. As a PREDICT partner, country coordinator of EcoHealth Alliance, Mr. Tom Hughes has launched a research with a connection between local conservation and global health. PREDICT partners locate their research in the geographic “hot spot” and focus on wildlife that is most likely to carry zoonotic diseases-animals such as bats, rodents, and non-human primates.
The workshop covered the practices and topics below:
1. Zoonoses of rodents, primates and bats
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Washing
3. Laboratory Safety
4. Sample Storage
5. Animal Capture for Sampling
6. Discussion On Field Site Selection and Deep Forest Sampling Methods and
7. PPE Equipment Demonstration
8. Mask Fit Test
9. Sampling, Identification, and Data Collection
When sampling at the field, remember that safety comes first. We do not know what kind of diseases are being carried by the sampling target, it could be dangerous or vital. By understanding the zoonotic diseases, the threat can be minimized by wearing proper PPE like gloves, masks and protection goggles.
This practice plays an important role in the prevention of zoonotic diseases.
When sampling wildlife, animal welfare comes first. Proper techniques of restraining and handling animals were practiced during the workshop. This session aims to show participants how improper techniques can potentially harm the animals or handler. During this workshop, bats and rodents were chosen as samples to show participants a proper way of carrying out a sampling.
The "Three-Rs" strategies were introduced and practiced during the workshop. The Rs stand for:
Replacement: Consider environmental sampling
Reduction: Fewest animals
Refinement: Most humane, least invasive techniques
The main idea of the “Three-Rs” concept is to minimize the impact of sampling to the wildlife population.
The Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife ended on 29th Nov 2012 with handing over of certificates to all the participants.
Now BSBCC has something on PPE that needs to catch up. Some rules and regulations may need to be added into our list to be applied in our Centre soon!!
Text by Gloria Ganang & photo by Dawn Serene Tukalan
It has been a rainy weather in Sandakan these few days. However it was lucky for the kids from the Sandakan Tzu Chi Buddhist Merit Society that they get to spend a sunny day doing fun activities at the BSBCC yesterday (9th Dec 2012). They arrived at 8.20 in the morning all excited and ready to see the sun bears. The kids stood in 4 lines according to their groups when we met them at the Seplilok car park.
The kids were then divided into 2 groups before we guided them towards the BSBCC platform. Along the way, they were also thought about the importance of the environment and a little appreciation and practice in reusing materials, such as the "Organic Bridge" which was built out of reclaimed Belian wood a.k.a. Bornean ironwood.
As we reached the platform, everyone was running everywhere, excited to meet the bears at their enclosure. They were welcomed by one of our bears, Kuamut resting on a log in the enclosure.
For most of the kids, it was their first time seeing a sun bear! Lucky for them that their first sight of a sun bear is in a natural forest and in good condition. Although these bears have unfortunate histories, but they knew that they will have a much better future.
Next, it is time for sun bear story with Wai Pak.
Later, the kids for told to make "toys" for the sun bears. We had used cardboard, ginger leaves, peanut butter, honey and many kinds of local spices for the kids to spread on their handmade "toys". This is to encourage the bears to tear the cardboard into pieces to get a taste of the ingredients .
The end product!
After the toy making activity, it was the end of their programme. Before they left, we took the opportunity to thank them for visiting us and made some enrichment for the bears to play with.
Thanks everybody! We'll see you again next time!
Text by Dawn Tukalan and photo by Gloria Ganang
It’s time for another health check in BSBCC. The sun bear health check has to be done to detect disease at an earlier stage for a better control of diseases and also to avoid it from transmit to other sun bear.
This time its Om’s turn to undergo the annual health checks. Unlike the usual physical checks and blood sample, the veterinarian also has to perform a dental surgery on Om’s to remove the loose tooth.
We were hoping that Om’s tooth will drop out itself overnight, but it did not happen. The following day, BSBCC staff prepares all items needed for the health check and waiting for Om to be sedated by Dr Nigel, a vet from Orang Utan UK Appeal. Once Om’s weighted, he was move to the surgery table where Dr Nigel performed the surgery and assisted by Wai Pak (BSBCC) and Dr Vivien (UK Appeal). BSBCC staff also assisted in taking Om’s body measurements and body temperature.
Figure 2 Dr Nigel assisted by Dr Vivien and BSBCC staff
The surgery was successful as Dr Nigel able to remove the loose tooth and the health check went on without hassle. Om was transferred to his den and his condition was monitored. It may take few weeks before Om can enjoy another coconut. There are 18 sun bear left to go through the annual health check.
Text and photo by Chiew Lin May
Malayan sun bear (Helartos malayanus) need a diverse tropical rainforest to survive. They are forest dependent species. BSBCC forest enclosure highlight the needs for animals better prepared for living in their natural environment. One of the primary goals of the BSBCC is to rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild, providing an improved long-term living environment for captive bears that cannot be released.
The BSBCC forest enclosure is an old growth forest with full-grown trees and lianas. Over the past many months, we have observed good progress on Cerah and Jelita display their wild behavior and stand a better chance to freedom in the wild. They are an arboreal bear species. They spend a lot of their time foraging for food, resting, digging and climbing on tree canopy at BSBCC forest enclosure.
They play a vital role as seed dispersers in their forest ecosystem as when they eat the fruits contain seeds. The seeds will be carried long away from the parent tree or scatter the undigested seeds in their faeces with a way to spread out and grow in new places. The importance of seed dispersal is for the continuation of plant and species life.
Sun bears are opportunistic omnivore. Cerah and Jelita forage by using their claws to dig the decayed wood searching for natural bear food such as termites and beetle larvae. They have to forage a lot each day in order to meet their energy requirement. They are good at skimming through the forest enclosure with their nose and paws to find any kinds of food in the forest. Jelita like to sit on the ground with her body straight up and held the food with her front paws and licked it. They are feeding on fruits both on the ground and in the trees. Sometimes, their black fur makes them not easy to be spotted when they are foraging on the dark forest floor at the forest enclosure.
Sun bears are good tree climbers because that is where they can find their food. In the forest enclosure, Cerah and Jelita climb like a wild sun bear. They are excellent climbers and are thought to sleep in trees. It is lucky to saw the interesting behavior of the sun bears climbing up the trees. They usually spend most of their day sleeping and sunbathing on the tree or forest floor in the forest enclosure. After napping, they spend much of the time foraging for food.
Here are some of photos showed the Cerah and Jelita difference resting/ sleeping postures.
These trees will provide bedding sites for sun bears. Those branches also make a nice place to build a nest for resting or sunbathing during the day. Cerah and Jelita enjoy exploring the natural environment at BSBCC forest enclosure.
Cerah and Jelita enjoy exploring the natural environment at BSBCC forest enclosure. While studies of sun bears in the wild indicate they live solitary existence, most likely due to competition for food but Cerah and Jelita are best pals. They will share food, comfort and protect each other together. Cerah have strong sense of curiosity. She will stay alert and avoid with presence of human and surrounding sound in the BSBCC forest enclosure. She will quickly climb trees to seek shelter and safety.
BSBCC forest enclosure is a perfect dwelling place that the rescued sun bears can roam freely by day and night. Cerah and Jelita has learned from experience and developed technique in survival skills. Observed them venture and acclimate to life in the forest. This showed a positive sign of independence and given the sun bears the best chance of survival in the wild. Both of the sun bears are fascinating in the forest enclosure. Watching the change of both of the sun bears grown healthy and adapt well in the forest is undoubtedly one of our greatest pleasures.
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Text and photo by Gloria Ganang
Damai, the newest resident and currently the youngest bear at the centre is moving to her new cage. She is so much tinier (only about 5 months old) than the rest of the bears at the centre. Therefore, the process of moving her is a bit of a challenge as we have to slowly introduce her to the neighbors. On the morning of the 24th November 2012, the BSBCC team gathered some natural elements to put inside her cage before Damai moves in. This includes dried leaves for the floor, fresh leaves as bedding material for her basket, tree branches as climbing structures and pieces of hanging logs in the middle. Well, this is how it looks like after we have completely set up her cage!
Next, it is time to move Damai in!
Her first reaction as she entered the cage was the basket. She instantly climbed inside and sniffed everywhere.
She then climbed down through the branches attached to the basket and continued exploring the rest of the cage.
Damai is new to the bears at the facility. Her unfamiliar smell made them startled and barked at her the first time she entered the cage. She gets frightened when hearing the barking sound. Therefore, she needs to be carefully observed every time she is in her new cage. This is until the rest of the bears get used to her.
Damai has a long way to go through rehabilitation. High hopes from BSBCC team that she could one day be living in the wild!
Check out Damai's profile on our official website. You may click on the following link:
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