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16th November, 2008 KOTA KINABALU: Efforts to raise fund for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) received overwhelming support from generous donors and the state government on Friday night.
Some RM1.3 million was raised through the auction of four paintings and a sculpture, sales of dinner tickets and a matching grant from the state government during the Bear Necessities Fund Raising Event at a resort here.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman who graced the function announced that the state government would give a matching grant based on the amount of money raised during the event.
According to the Land Empowerment of Animal & People (LEAP) executive director Cynthia Ong, the BSBCC will cost about RM2.1 million.
It will be built next to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan and it will be carried out in three phases with phase one costing RM1.1 million, phase two RM600,000 and RM900,000 is needed for phase three.
Besides that, she said they have also received RM130,000 from international donors.
The fund raising event also saw a memorandum of understanding signed by Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department and LEAP.
Sun bear researcher Wong Siew Te said the kind financial support will help change the life of the sun bear and turn the centre into a tourism hotspot.
According to him, an enclosure will be built for the phase one project which can house 20 sun bears including 11 that were confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department.
Even though the sun bears are kept in captivity, they can gain access to the natural forest to enjoy life in the wild once the centre is completed, he said.
The phase two project will have a gallery for visitors to view the sun bears in their natural behaviour. Phase three will have an observatory platform and an exhibition centre, he said.
“The sun bear is a protected species and the plan to build the conservation centre is aimed at helping the bear and providing them a better place to live. The centre will be incorporated with conservation, education and research features,” he said.
The fund raising event was also supported by various artistes such as Ida Nerina, Lina Teoh and Joanna Bessey who assisted the Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu, Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan and Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun to conduct the auction of the sun bear paintings and sculpture.