Text and photos by Siew Te Wong
Today's blog is simple.
I do not need to write many words.
Because a photo worth a thousand words.... hehe..
Let the pictures tell the story..
You can see sun bears like these photo ONLY in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
Sun bear holds many world's records.
Sun bear is the world's smallest bear species. However, they have the longest tongue, longest claws, and largest canines relatively to their size if compares to other bear species.
They are the world's most arboreal bear species. Yet, sun bear is the world's least known bears. They are the least studied bear species. I often refer them as the forgotten species.
Sun bears are nothing but amazing and fascinating! I knew it from years of studying them and working closely with them. It is ashamed that very few people in the world know much about them. For such an little known species, what sun bear need is an army of media coverage, range from the smallest smart phones, tiny news papers columns, articles in magazines, books, internet websites, youtube videos, TV programs and documentaries, and all the way to big screen feature-length films in cinema. Yes, feature-length films like movies!
As sun bear biologist, I am frustrated all these years by having difficulties to reach people, many people indeed, to share the stories and the plights of the sun bears. That frustration however, was slowly disappeared when Chris Morgan first contacted me about a proposed full length feature film call the BEARTREK in 2005. BEARTREK is a wildlife film produce by Wildlife Media Inc. features Brown bears in Alaska, Sun Bears in Borneo, Andean Bears in Peru, and Polar Bears in Canada. Wildlife Media is making a difference for bears and other wildlife through direct project funding and awareness-building.
"Film can change the world"
For BEARTREK, it will change the fate, the future, and conservation of sun bear. The numbers of people BEARTREK will reach and the amount of influence BEARTREK on sun bear is beyond anyone's imagination. It will be huge, be vast, be significant. Many people across the world will see sun bear, learn about sun bear, and know how special sun bears are for the first time in their life from BEARTREK. All of this knowledge is important for us to save sun bear from extinction as well as their habitat from deforestation. It has been 5 years now I anticipate the project to be completed. At the beginning of each year I pray that the movie will be completed in that year because we need the world to know about the plight of sun bear and their conservation issues urgently. Sun bears and their tropical rainforest habitat need immediate attention and have no time to wait.
"What is good for bears is good for people" is what Chris Morgan always said. "Protect bear habitat and you will protect fresh water, healthy forests, and clean air. No other species captures the human imagination like bears. They amaze us with their power, appearance, intelligence, and adaptability; attributes that have led to human admiration and respect for millennia."
Like all film productions, BEARTREK is no exception of in need funding to achieve its goals. I am urging you to support Wildlife Media and the production of BEARTREK. I am thankful to those of you who have supported BEARTREK. I also thank Chris, Joe and this team to put this movie together.
You can learn more about BEARTREK and Chris Morgan's works at:
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Photos: BEFF, Cede Prudente
With Thanks from BEFF 2011
How cool was it to have a rare King Cobra, about 12 foot long, attempting to participate in the BEFF 2011 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre! And how appropriate that Cedde Prudente was talking about the “Wild Wonders of Sabah”. We know his photographs are amazing and beautiful but we didn’t know he has a following from wild creatures, too!
We were half wondering whether the sun bears will also be in attendance during Wong Siew Te talk on “The holistic approaches to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) to conserve sun bears in Sabah”.
You can go to BSBCC website for further information about BSBCC work and Bornean sun bears. Watch the BEARTREK demo reel here, one of the film screened in the BEFF 2011. Not many people are aware of the plight of the Bornean sun bears. BEFF 2011 is pleased to have been able to at least provide some sort of avenue for creating awareness on the great work of BSBCC and the plight of Bornean sun bears. It is amazing to see and be in the presence of someone so passionate about his work in protecting the sun bears. It was indeed a privilege to have Wong be a part of BEFF 2011. Save sun bears!!
Nikon Malaysia gave an interesting presentation on “Movie-Making with a Nikon DSLR”, and some goodies giveaway for those who can name international and local film directors. Nikon Malaysia also sponsored the prizes for the lucky draw during BEFF 2011. Thank you Nikon Malaysia!
These three talks launched the BEFF 2011 on Friday 29th July. Then it was a mad dash to Nak Hotel for the film screenings which began at 7pm. The screenings were held at Balin Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, an open air area on the roof top of Nak Hotel. And what a view!! The sunset, the sea, the shop buildings and there was a huge navy ship docked at the bay about 200 meters from the BEFF venue.
Husband and wife team Anton and Linn (BEFF main organizers) did a wonderful job of setting up the venue and providing the space for BEFF 2011 film screenings.
BEFF 2011 saw the screening of 15 thought provoking films by Abdul Hamid Abdullah, Arry & Fizzah, Joe Pontecorvo & Chris Morgan, JICA & Scubazoo, BorneoColours, Mai Iskandar, Ikhwan Rivai, Cassia Mary Itamoto & Celina Kurihara, Audrie Yeo, Patrick Rouxel, BBC & Roger Munns, WWF & Harun Rahman, Dario Novellino & ALDAW Networks, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, and Thorfinnur Gudnason and Andri Snaer Magnason. The screening was made extra special by the presence of some of the filmmakers in BEFF 2011 to answer questions about their films. Now that is what we call "access"! The questions posed were equally thought provoking and we are sure many who were there at BEFF 2011 left with greater awareness about our environment and how we can all contribute towards the protection and preservation of our natural habitat.
The film screenings were made even more special with the presence of talented and award winning musicians Christopher Aban; Amir Yussof and friend; Roger Wang; Angelina Perete; Hezekiah Asim and wife Kalina who performed a Borneo Orang Ulu dance. Strong wind, dark clouds and lightning did not stop the audience from clapping their hands in rhythm with the music elegantly sang by Angelina accompanied by the masterful sound of Roger Wang on the guitar, and what looks like a wooden-vase-cum-drums (Udu Vase?) played by multi-talented Hezekiah who also played the Sompoton (Bornean flute), Hulusi (Chinese flute made using bamboo and gourd), as well as the Sape (a traditional lute of Bornean Orang Ulu). Amir Yusof performed his excellent and meaningful song "Calling on you". Here's a clip of Amir singing the song (clip taken from Youtube):
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The final day was a closed session, the SUARA Workshop: Community Filmmaking, which was facilitated by Ulu Papar Community Researchers, Inanc Tekguc, Artiso Mandawa and Global Diversity Foundation, and filmmakers Chris Chong Chan Fui and Ikhwan Rivai. This year's community is HUTAN, a non-profit organisation working to develop and implement innovative solutions to conserve the orang-utan in Sabah, Malaysia.
Overall, about 300 people, from Malaysia, U.S.A., Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, England and others, the Minister of Youth and Sports Sabah, Sandakan Municipal Council President, and representatives from organisations such Sabah Society, Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival attended BEFF 2011 from 29th to 31st July 2011. On average about 35 participants attended each sessions on film and documentary making by Harun Rahman of Novista, Chris Chong Chan Fui of Tanjung Aru Pictures, Ikhwan Rivai of Wildman Pictures, and Roger Munns of Scubazoo. Each one of the esteemed speakers generously shared with the participants their knowledge, acquired through years of experience, on film making. These include pre-production and post-productions matters, equipments, writing proposals, research, difference between a subject and story, the importance of using good tripods, how to ensure the sound recording for your film is good, story arc, where to start, how to get your film out there, plots and characters, character arc, importance of good storytelling, funding, pitching, legal matters and many more, about documentaries that make audience ask questions, about telling your own story your way, and as Chris puts it "why not?". Roger's talk on underwater filmmaking left the audience sitting on the edge of their seats as Roger shared the thrills, tribulations and fun of underwater filmmaking.
At the end of the day, each filmmakers were unanimous in their message that if you want to be a filmmaker, the best way to start is to just go out there and start filming. Let your imagination run free, be creative, and to just have the mindset that you just have to do it right now and you have what it takes to make things happen. Be the filmmaker that you are right now!
Finally, our sincere gratitude to all who believed in the BEFF 2011 and made it possible! Join us again for the BEFF 2012!
More photos of BEFF can be view here:
A big congratulation to the BEFF organizing committee and BEFF team to make this festival a success in Sandakan! You guys rock!
A big thank you and hugs for your invitation for BSBCC and the sun bear team to be part of this important event. This is by far a good place for us to raise awareness for sun bears and everything we care about- Mother Earth. I am looking forward to be part of BEFF again in the future!
A sms that I received on the evening of the June 28th sent my excitement to the roof. The text message was from Joe Pontecorvo, the Director and Producer of Beartrek, that he was in Kota Kinabalu and he was on his way to Sandakan to visit me and Cerah the sun bear.
For those of you who do not know BEARTREK, please click here or visit http://wildlifemedia.org/the-movie/watch-clips/.
"BEARTREK is Wildlife Media's first feature-length film. It takes you on a global motorcycle quest with insatiable adventurer and biologist Chris Morgan. Chris traverses the wildest places on Earth seeking out the rarest bear species and the dedicated people racing to save them from extinction. Movie profits will fund bear conservation, including projects highlighted in the film. Watch the clips below, explore this website, then support wildlife and wild places"
Joe is not ordinary film director. He is THE director and producer that produced several wildlife documentaries, BEARTREK and also the latest highly acclaimed PBS Nature documentary, "Bears of The Last Frontier." In 2007, Joe together with Chris Morgan and their team from the Wildlife Media visited me in Danum Valley when I was conducting a 3 years field work studying wild sun bears and bearded pigs. We completed the filming for the sun bear section for BEARTREK with Chris, who is the host and the narrator of the movie. After almost 4 years since Joe left Borneo, he was back to this part of the world for a new mission. I am so glad to meet him, to catch up with him, and we discussed potential corroboration works for us in the future.
BEARTREK is not just another wildlife documentary about bears. It will be the first wildlife movie that show case the little known sun bear and the plights of their survival on the island of Borneo. It will for sure create a huge positive force to raise awareness and enlighten millions of audiences across the world about the uniqueness, preciousness, and the beautifulness of sun bears that live in the dense tropical rainforest of Borneo. Over the last four years the promos of Beartrek and a tailor-made video of sun bear from Wildlife Media has instrumental the success of several fund raising events for BSBCC. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Joe, Chris and their team in Wildlife Media to making all of these possible.
Thank you guys!
Please read more about BEARTREK:
By Anna Cocker (Sun Bear Conservation Trust)
After completing the Great North Run on 20th September 2009 to raise money for sun bears, I have collected the last of the sponsor money, raising a total of £136.00. The Great North Run is a half marathon (13.1 miles) which is held annually in the city of Newcastle, England every September. It is the world’s second most popular half marathon road running event consisting of elite athletes, athletes running for fun and people taking part for charity. Despite it being a hot day I kept going and going as I was thinking about the sun bears in Sepilok and I made it to the finish line in 2 hours 10 minutes. It was my first time participating in the Great North Run and I was taken back with the immense volume of 54,000 people taking part as well as being completely overwhelmed by the phenomenal atmosphere and support from the crowds. I’m looking forward to running it again in the near future. Thanks everyone for all your help and support!
Anna Cocker is by far the biggest fan of sun bear. We first met during the 2006 International Conference on Bear Research and Management in Japan. With no training or background on bear research and management, Anna attended the conference simply because she had a very strong interest on bears. Her agenda during the meeting was simple: She would like to meet bear biologists to learn more about bears and also seek opportunities to work them.
Out of hundreds of bear biologists around the world who attended the conference, Anna found me. At that time, I was conducting a 3- year field study on sun bear in Borneo. This is a golden opportunity to get involve with bear research and conservation work that she has been looking for. After a year of emailing between her and me, Anna finally landed in Borneo and spent the next several months in the tropical rainforest helping me collecting field data, tracking wild sun bears, and taking care captive sun bears in Sepilok (before BSBCC was established), including Cerah, the little sun bear featured in BEARTREK the movie.
It was truly a fun evening with a lot of laughter with Chris Morgan, Joe Pontecorvo, John Taylor, and many others from the BEARTREK family and guests that make it to the party on April 23rd to celebrate the achievement that Wildlife Media accomplished and keep the spirit of Beartrek high.
The evening was joined by over a hundred guests and fans of bear and BEARTREK. It was a fun evening that brought up a lot of the sweet memories and stories during the filming in Bornean rainforest, Cerah the little sun bears, and the blood sucking leeches.
Bellingham ecologist makes bear documentary to save wild places
KIE RELYEA - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Bellingham ecologist Chris Morgan is taking his BMW motorcycle on a journey to four continents in search of the world's endangered bears - an epic adventure being made into a feature-length documentary called "Beartrek."
The goal isn't just to show the bears in their habitat, stunning as the wild coast of Katmai, Alaska, and the rainforest canopy of Borneo, Malaysia, may be when shot in high definition.
The idea is to raise money for conservation efforts by selling audiences on why wild bears in wild places should matter to people, to spin an entertaining tale that will do for conservation what Al Gore did for climate change in "An Inconvenient Truth."
"They represent these wild places that we all need. Where you've got bears, you've got fresh water, you've got clean air, you've got intact forest and ecosystems," Morgan said one day over coffee. "They need those things, and so do we."
A conservation story wrapped in an adventure
BEARTREK is a feature length documentary that follows renowned bear biologist and naturalist Chris Morgan on a global crusade to understand and conserve the rarest bears on Earth. Join Chris on an epic motorcycle adventure across four continents to the wildest places on Earth -uncover the secretive nature of the world’s most endangered bears, discover the threats facing them in the wild, and meet dedicated individuals racing to saving them from extinction.
Our film is an emotional one. Why? Because the places, people and bears that we will be meeting along the way will move you. The destinations are exotic (among them are Peru, Mongolia, Borneo, Alaska and India). The bears will amaze you (India alone has four species), and the stories will grip you. Imagine tracking sloth bears by elephant back in tiger country, following the emotional release of a captive sun bear in Borneo, or immersing yourself in a tiny Andean town where a soccer league determines the fate of the local bears.
BEARTREK brings the amazing world of bears to the big screen as you have never seen before -a stunning natural history adventure that will change your view of the world, and inspire you to take action.
I am honored to be part of story featured in BEARTREK. In this movie, I will tell you my field work on sun bears in the rainforest of Borneo and show you some of the very rare footages of sun bear. Sun bears receive very little media coverage and publicity until now. I hope BEARTREK will introduce you this little known and little bear species- the sun bear!
Click here to see the latest promo video on BEARTREK
Please learn more about the movie at