Happy New Year to all of you! It is the time of the year where we say farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017. No doubt, 2016 was another great year for BSBCC. This New Year marked the 9th year of BSBCC working hard to conserve sun bears in Sabah under the four pillars – animal welfare, education, research and rehabilitation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you over and over again for your help and support over the years. Without your help and support in many ways, we seriously cannot achieve what we have achieved today. My team and I are looking forward to the challenges and plans for the New Year. But first, let’s review the major achievements in 2016:
1. Animal Welfare: BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department rescued 5 additional sun bears in 2016, making BSBCC receive a total of 53 sun bears over the past nine years. Currently, BSBCC is caring for 42 rescued sun bears and has exceeded the carrying capacity of our Centre.
2. Education: A total of 61,533 visitors have visited the BSBCC in 2016. In addition, 34 school groups that consisted of 1,385 students and teachers have visited us to learn about the sun bears and their plights. Our education team, under the leadership of Gloria Ganang, our Environmental Education Executive, has conducted various education outreach program in 31 different schools across Sabah and reached more than 11,000 school students and teachers!
3.Research: A sun bear behavioural study and few other smaller projects have been completed in-house with our captive sun bears. Two field research projects on wild sun bears have started and are on-going in 2017.
4.Rehabilitation: Lawa the adult female sun bear was released in Tabin Wildlife Reserve in July 2016. This has marked the second sun bear rehabilitated and released back to the wild.
5.Construction: The second observation platform and the aerial walkway have been completed and open to the public in May 2016. This project was kindly sponsored by Sime Darby Foundation.
All of these achievements are also impossible without the help from our 26 dedicated staff and 101 volunteers from all over the world. They are truly my heroes and heroines who helped me run BSBCC to help the rescued sun bears. I am also grateful to all of our supporters, funders, donors, and the 61 thousand of BSBCC’s visitors, without your generous contributions, none of our works can happen. Thank you all! I hope all of you can continue your support and help. 2017 is the 9th year since BSBCC first operates in 2008. We have more plans and projects to be conducted this year in addition to the on-going projects that we are working on.
These projects include the release of four more rehabilitated sun bears in the wild, the construction of our gateway which was delayed last year due to funding issue, the operation of our long term field study and rehab station at Tabin Wildlife Reserve and the Sabah State wide sun bear status survey. This year we also introduce four more objectives or pillars into the current fourobjectives. These four pillars are ecotourism, community conservation, anti-poaching, and captive breeding of rescued sun bears which will be slowly implemented in the next 10 years!
BSBCC started as a very small project in 2008 but definitely was an ambitious project when I first had the idea to found it in 2004. This Centre is probably the biggest achievement I had in my entire life. I (later become “we”) have big dreams for this little bears, which is to ensure their survival in the tropical forest of Southeast Asia for a long-long time to come. As a wildlife biologist, conservationist, and tropical forest ecologist who study sun bears and the tropical
rainforest for the past 20 years, I understand the importance of sun bears to the forest ecosystem or vice versa. Both are dependent on each other but this tropical forest home for the sun bears is very fragile and vulnerable due to human activities. If we lose the forest, sun bears will lose their home and we may lose the most fundamental elements required for all life – clean air, clean water and stable climate. The aims of BSBCC are not just to educate the public about the plights of sun bears, but also the importance of the rainforest to us and the sun bears.
In this New Year, I wish that our works can continue and continue to be successful. However, we cannot do this alone. Your support and help are crucial for our success to conserve sun bears through a holistic approach. There is no room for failure as we know the consequences if we fail. Thank you once again. Wishing you all the best in this New Year! May all beings be happy, joyful, well, be safe & at peace! Another year has passed and the new year of 2017 is here.
The Sun Bear Explorer Program book has been produced to support learning about sun bears, their habitat and the importance to protect them from their threats. This will aid in teaching materials for the education team to carry out activities for group visits and during outreach programmes.
The book project was initiated and designed by Dr. Dawn Tanner from theUniversity of Minnesota, in collaboration with Dr. Wong Siew Te, BSBCC CEO and Founder and translation assistance for the Malay version from Risnayati Lammu, BSBCC's Education Officer.
Thanks to the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and GEF Small Grants Programme for the funding support and everyone involved to make this book possible.
Check out the complete book on our
(http://www.bsbcc.org.my/resources.html) for free download!
Text and Photos by Seng Yen Wah
Nano is a two years old sub-adult male bear. He was sent to the BSBCC on the 20th of November, 2016. A lady decided to rescue Nano when she saw Nano was kept in a small chicken mesh cage in Kota Marudu, north of Sabah. She purchased him from the seller for a price of RM1,500, with the purpose of saving his life. Nano was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to the BSBCC after that.
He showed aggressive, alert and stressed behaviour when he first arrived. Besides that, he was found underweight, just weighing 9.7 kg. He paced a lot especially when he got stressed. This was due to psychological trauma that he had suffered and it caused stereotypical behavior. Actually, Nano is a very shy and quiet bear. He enjoys staying to himself. If somebody tries to disturb him, he would give a warning and barks or growls. He likes to rest on a towel. He feels safer staying alone and preferably in dark. Nano just finished his quarantine. But, he is still taking his time adapting. Now, he weighs 11kg. His favourite foods are banana and egg!
We did not know what exactly happened to him for the past two years. But, we believed he was kept as a house pet before. People might think sun bears are cute when they are still a cub. So, people insist on keeping them as a pet. But they never think about the consequences resulting from keeping them in a small cage or feeding them with the wrong diet. The mistreatment of the owner will not only cause sun bears having some relevant health problem like dehydration, and malnutrition but also the psychological trauma can cause stress-related behaviour. The trauma implies their future life. So, Please stop doing that for sun bears!
Nano has suffered a lot. The best enrichment for a bear is another bear. So, we plan to find Nano a friend for accompanying him. The integration of Nano with others can help him to learn more survival skills from his new friends along with helping him to reduce his stress as well. We hope Nano can leave his traumatic early life behind and be happy and gain his confidence at the BSBCC.
The International Eco-School Conference is an international initiative designed to guide schools in implementing a whole- school approach towards environmental and sustainability education. WWF invites schools from different places to join the Eco-schools Program. The conference participated by more than 100 students and 25 teachers from 27 schools across Malaysia and Thailand.
This Program was held in the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) , Sepilok Sabah on 13th – 17th December 2016. The activities included educational trips to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC), Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey.
The International Eco-School Conference 2016 was officially started with keynote speech by field experts and Eco-School presentations. Dr. Wong Siew Te (Founder and CEO at BSBCC) was also invited to give his talk at the conference. The talk from Dr. Wong is about wildlife and tourism in the forest ecosystem. Wildlife and tourism are important resources and forests are seen to have a significant role for tourism. The talk was great and really useful, hopefully the participants will gain interest and knowledge about the importance of conserving our forest as wildlife habitat which contributes to the economy to the country.
BSBCC was part of this program on the 14th-15th December. The education team had prepared a few activities for the students. The students had a presentation on sun bears and our Centre, they were then asked to complete some activities and answer quiz questions based on the information given to them and their own ideas.
After they had completed their tasks, we went through and talked about the answers together. The students enjoyed their activities and we look forward for more exciting activities on next International Eco-School Program.
Nowadays, environmental education is becoming more important in increasing public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues. It provides the public with the necessary skills especially in decision making and taking responsible actions to keep the environment protected. We welcome all school groups and organizations to our Centre to learn about conserving the sun bears and their habitat.BSBCC received 14 group visits in November and December. As usual, they were given a brief presentation from our staff about sun bears and BSBCC's roles & efforts.
After that, they went up to the observation platforms to watch the bears roaming in the forest. It was interesting to watch the students amazed and happy to see the bears especially those who never seen them before. We believe that environmental education is vital and can help to further conserve the sun bears. We were glad that the students had a great time in our Centre and we hope that they learned more about sun bears and their environment, and help us spread the word!
Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
Dodop and Wawa, both one year old female juvenile bears. They have a different story to tell how they arrived to BSBCC. Dodop was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department from being kept as pet in a Singgaron village in Ranau district. Her milk teeth had been found missing but now her permanent teeth have grown well. On the other hand, Wawa was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department. She was found in the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16, Pinangah in Telupid District. They stayed together in quarantine and moved to bear house on 10th of October 2016.
Dodop and Wawa adapted well in the bear house. Due to the capacity of the bear house being limited, Dodop and Wawa were integrated with our sub-adult group. The sub-adult group is consists of 11 bears: Sunbearo, Loki, Bintang, Montom, Susie2, Damai, Mary, Kala, Boboi, Kitud and Tan Tan. Limited capacity is not the only reason to integrate bears, integration can help bears to reduce their stress related behavior and they can learn pertinent skills from each other such as survival skills and defense skills. Wawa is a friendly bear. She likes to be friends with others by initiating play fights. Compared with Wawa, Dodop is very shy. But, everyone likes to approach her. The sub-adult group liked both Dodop and Wawa. They stay, they play and they sleep together now.
Fence training is a must before the bears are allowed out to the forest enclosure. This is because all the forest enclosures are surrounded by hot wires in high voltage. Having hot wires prevent the bears from escaping the forest enclosure. And hence, the fence training is a learning process for the bears in order to let them know the hot wire will cause them pain if they touch on it. Fence training could be a long period or short period training because it varies with different bears since they have different personalities.
Dodop and Wawa are fast learners. Even though, they had a bad experiences for the first day of the fence training; both were zapped for few times in the first day, because they climbed the fence. When they panicked, they climbed up higher but they did not know that there still were more hot wires waiting for them. When the bear keeper realized they climbed to the electric fence, the keepers did switch off the fence immediately and waited for them to climb down, just switch on the fence again. After they got zapped, they barked and ran back into the buffer cage. After that, their fence training turned negative. So, we tried to introduce Dodop and Wawa with their friends and let them go to the fence training together. This showed positive results. They entered the training pen again lead by their friends. After few weeks, finally Dodop and Wawa passed their fence training! They took the food by using their claws and without getting zapped by hot wires anymore.
On 17th November, 2016, it was a sunny day. And, it was a good day for Dodop and Wawa going out from the cage. Once the guillotine door opened, they apparently felt curious about the world behind the door. They were sniffing the forest scents and keep looking outside, the new environment! And, Wawa took her very first and brave step to step on the ground. Once she touched on the ground, she could not wait to explore everything inside the forest enclosure. She has since proven that she is the explorer! Just in one afternoon, she explored the whole forest enclosure and she met her friend, Boboi, Kitud and TanTan. They were sharing a coconut as well. After that, they were playing and exploring together, it is so lovely!
Dodop is not like Wawa. She took some time to come out from the cage. She keeps looking outside when Wawa was having fun with others. So, she put her four paws on the ramp and kept looking around to find a good ways to touch on ground. She really does not like to step on the muddy area. She was trying hard and finally she went out to the forest enclosure. And, Wawa was waiting for her to explore the forest enclosure together. Their release to the forest enclosure is the chance for them to learn more from their friends. Not only for Dodop and Wawa but for every bear, the BSBCC has a dream that sun bears can be given back to the wild again. We at the BSBCC really hope to help for dreams to come true.