Sunday, 11 Jun 2023
By Stephanie Lee
KOTA KINABALU: A three-month-old sun bear cub named Tenom has avoided a life of being reared as a pet, and is now at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) for rehabilitation. BSBCC founder Dr Wong Siew Te said that the 4kg cub was bought for RM500 from a village in the Beaufort-Sipitang border on May 29.
He said after Tenom was rescued by wildlife rangers, it was surrendered to the Wildlife Department and then transferred to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. “She arrived at the wildlife park on June 2, bright and alert, but with some old scabs on her head and body,” he said when contacted.
Wong said his team of conservationists only transferred Tenom to the BSBCC on Saturday (June 10).
“It was a long journey, but worthwhile for this cub. Tenom is an active and feisty bear. When we first met her, she was already climbing up and down in her cage,” he said. “She is vocal when unhappy and definitely makes sure she's heard. She has such a loud bark for a small body,” added Wong.
Wong said Tenom was very curious of her new surroundings when she was allowed out of her cage upon arrival at the BSBCC and did not stop climbing and exploring her new enclosure.
He said Tenom did not appear scared or nervous, adding that she enjoyed the dried leaves and furniture that was in the cage. “Her caretakers seem to be the ones nervous and scared seeing her climbing and hanging upside down,” he said.
At night, they observed her getting comfortable and sleeping on her pile of dried leaves, said Wong.
“Tenom is playful, curious, and full of energy. We are happy that Tenom did not end up being someone's pet at home and living in a tiny cage,” he said.
He said his team will continue to do their best to give Tenom the best “bear experience" and hope that one day, she can be returned to the forest.
“Nevertheless, it is sad to wonder about what happened to Tenom's mother. In an ideal world, Tenom would be living happily with her mum in the forest learning the bare necessities naturally,” said Wong.
He said bear cubs are adorable but they are definitely not meant to be pets, adding that it is illegal to possess a sun bear or any parts of the animal.
He said that the public should report such incidents to the Sabah Wildlife Department for action.
Wong said poaching still exists and remains active in Sabah, and hopes that all offenders are arrested and prosecuted.
On May 12, it was reported that a protected sun bear was shot dead after the animal attacked an elderly man in the Telupid district, some 220km from kota Kinabalu. The bear was also kept as a pet before it escaped its cage. “We have been trying to stop this madness in Sabah for the past 15 years. We have used up so much resources, time and effort for rehabilitation and this kind of rescue work should come to an end, but yet, this is still happening,” Wong said. Towards this end, he thanked Hasanah Foundation and the Sime Darby Foundation for supporting their conservation efforts.
This week, from May 23rd until May 26th, 2023, our Environmental Education Unit visited Pitas district, visiting three schools and two community villages for an education and awareness programme. Our team is pairing up with a few organisations, such as the Sabah Wildlife Department, RDC Sepilok, the Sabah Forestry Department, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Orangutan Appeal UK, Forest Solutions Malaysia, and the Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre. We are grateful to have support and assistance from the Sabah Education Department, Yayasan Sime Darby and Yayasan Hasanah, teachers, and community villagers in order to run this programme.
BSBCC received another visit from 42 kindergarten students, accompanying 4 teachers and parents of Tadika Kg. Gelam today. The students were first briefed on the safety rules before to the bear observation platforms. Guided tour was also given to the group with the help of information boards alongside our centre's boardwalk. The group seems to be very happy to be able to see sun bears in their forest enclosures and quite eager to learn about them too. Thanks again for visiting BSBCC, and hope to see you guys again!
“Connect, Conserve, and Collaborate” Art Exhibition and Fundraising Event at LUMA hotel, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
The launching of the Art Exhibition and Coffee Experience fundraising event for the sun bears took place today at 3pm at The LUMA Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. Dr. Wong, Mr. Alan Wong (Executive Director, The LUMA Hotel) and Wayne Liew Executive Director, Crack Inc.) gave their respective speeches to the audiences present which included partners, friends, supporters, media, social media influencers, and the artists that contributed their talents for the event.
A total of 5 paintings were sold today and we hope to see more visitors to the art display at The LUMA Hotel during the next few days. The exhibition will continue until the 4th December 2022.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank The LUMA Hotel and Crack Inc. for exclusively adopting our sun bears and the amazing efforts to make this event happen. Not forgetting all talented artists that have contributed their time and efforts to produce stunning sun bear themed artworks for this event. Proceeds from each artwork sold will be contributed to the BSBCC.
Thank you Yu Yuan Secondary School!
We are very thankful for the teachers and students of Yu Yuan Secondary School, Sandakan for their fundraising efforts to support sun bear conservation work. A total of 40 students and 4 teachers visited our Centre yesterday to hand in their donations to us. The visit was welcomed by Dr. Wong Siew Te himself who gave an encouraging speech to the students to continue supporting environmental conservation.
We hope you had a meaningful visit and wish you all the best in your studies !
We are glad to be part of the North Borneo Rainforest Festival 2022. The two-day event that was held at Heritage Village Phase II, Sabah State Museum, gave us the chance to raise public awareness on nature and wildlife conservation as well as introduce BSBCC's efforts on conserving the world's smallest bear, the sun bear.
Activities were done to introduce the sun bears to the public, such as a talk about BSBCC from Dr. Wong Siew Te, booth exhibitions, wildlife face mask colouring, quizzes, and a forest animal magnet card.
Other than that, there are cultural arts activities, musical performances, and traditional food trucks that promote the diversity of Sabah's culture and nature.
We are honoured to be invited as part of the partners for the Elementary School Scout Environmental Camporee Environmental at Sekolah Kebangsaan Nunuyan Laut, Sandakan. Around 110 students from 7 primary schools around Sandakan were selected to join this programme. Yesterday was the environmental and wildlife education slot for the students. They had a chance to visit our booth together with the HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme and Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre. Our Environmental Education team prepared a few interactive quizzes, informative videos, and activities for the students to get them to learn more about sun bears and their habitat. We hope all the students will absorb all the knowledge and help us spread the message of our sun bear's plight and our effort to conserve and protect them.
We are glad to be a part of the 12th Borneo Bird Festival that is happening from October 22nd to 23rd, 2022 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok, Sandakan. The Borneo Bird Festival is a celebration of the magnificent birds of Borneo and aims to create greater awareness of nature conservation, promote birding tourism and create a platform to showcase the optics and camera equipment used for nature watching activities. Various activities are held during this two-day event, such as workshops and talks from experts, guided birdwatching walks, colouring contests, drawing competitions, bird photo contests, booth exhibitions of wildlife conservation from different organisations and many more.
School and community outreach on Wildlife Conservation Awareness and Education Programme at Kg. Bambangan, Sandakan.
On the 19th October 2022, BSBCC organised a Wildlife Conservation Awareness and Education Programme to Kampung Bambangan, Sandakan, which lies at the vicinity of Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. This is the first programme of such organised by BSBCC targeting the community, and more will be coming soon. The programme aimed to reach the community living near to forest reserve to raise the awareness on conservation and providing a platform for state departments, NGOs and related agencies to exchange information on relevent issues.
The programme was preceded by a school outreach programme in SK Bambangan, targeting the school students and teachers in the morning. A total of 187 students and 17 teachers reached in this programme. At the same time, community members and students were visiting the exhibition booths prepared by BSBCC, Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (HUTAN-KOCP), Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC), Orangutan Appeal UK, Tropical Rainforest Conservation and Research Centre (TRCRC).
This was followed with mini sports games to foster good relationship between the community and the organiser. At night, the community attended talks given by Sabah Wildlife Department, TRCRC, HUTAN-KOCP and BSBCC. An estimated number of around 150 community members attended the talks (exceeding the expected number!) with several issues related to wildlife conflict and legals were discussed. With this, it is hoped that the issues were clarified for suitable future actions and will lead to a better environment for human, wildlife and nature.
BSBCC would love to extend the biggest gratitude to Ministry of Finance (MOF) for the funding of this programme and all the participations from state department, agencies, NGOs, Kampung Bambangan's Development and Safety Committee and SK Bambangan in making this programme a success. Thank you!