Dear friends and partners in conservation,
We have arrived at a pivotal moment for sun bear conservation in Borneo: the completion of Phase 1 of the Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Centre. After more than two years of dreaming and hard work by many of us around the world, the bears are at this very moment being moved http://www.bsbcc.org.my/bear-talk-blog/three-bears-moved-9-to-go to their new home with forest enclosures within the virgin jungle reserve of Sepilok. For most of these bears, it will be their first "home-coming" into the forest since their captivity into the pet trade at infancy.
In November 2008, we raised RM1.3 million (approx. USD400,000) at the Bear Necessities fundraiser in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, through private sector, philanthropic and government funding. This was the cost of construction for Phase 1. Construction began in early 2009 and the attached annual report documents the work throughout the year.
We are now raising funds for Phase 2 which requires RM1,000,000 (approx. USD300,000). Please find attached conceptual perspectives of the visitor/education centre and observation deck/gallery, which are the Phase 2 components that will enable us to open to public and generate revenue to help the centre towards self-sustainability.
The beauty of this project has been the collaboration between government, NGO, industry, scientists, zoos, the philanthropic community and volunteers-- no one group could have achieved alone what we have achieved together. The government matched one-to-one the funds we raised for Phase 1. In a recent meeting with government leadership, I received the pledge and assurance that they will match us one-to-one for Phase 2!
I am writing to call on that spirit of collaboration and ask if you will join us on this journey to freedom for the sun bears. Once they are in the centre they will be studied and prepared for eventual release, where appropriate and ready, into safe, wild areas. Phase 2 is essential for us to transition away from donor-funded operations and bring in revenue that will be ploughed back into the running of the centre. We need to raise RM500,000 (approx. USD150,000) and the government one-to-one match will bring us to the total need for Phase 2. If you wish to see the proposal and budget for this, I will be glad to email it to you.
Help us make this dream happen. Take a moment and watch this video which will show you why the bears need a safe space and a safe future -- the closing images will give you a sense of what the centre will offer the bears.
Anuual report of BSBCC is available at http://www.leapspiral.org/pdf/BSBCC_Report09.pdf
Please let us know if you would like to make a gift, and know that it will be matched one-to-one by the State Government of Sabah.
For the sun bears,
Founding President and Executive Director of LEAP
Director of BSBCC
Every great project in the world starts from a dream. For me, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was a dream that I dreamed some 6 years ago after seeing so many captive sun bears suffering in small cages and knowing most people were completely naïve and clueless about their plights or anything about this bear. At first it seems like a mission impossible to raise such a huge amount of money for a species that are so little known and the global economic crisis. The key successes to kick start this project in the first place was because of the immense supports from Cynthia Ong and Nancy Abraham from LEAP, and Dr. Laurentius Ambu and Datuk Sam Manan, Directors of Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, respectively. Without their help and supports in the first place, this project will not go anywhere.
The next step of the project was to strategize ways to raise fund. Dividing the construction of the centre into 3 phases would speed up the project, at least, we could improve the livelihood of the captive bears without a long waiting to raise the entire fund needed: Phase 1 be the construction of the first Bear House 1 and the 4 forest enclosures; Phase 2 be the construction of visitor gallery, observation platform and renovating the past of existing building as office ; and finally, Phase 3 as the construction of the second Bear House 2 and additional 4 forest enclosures.
After 2 years of planning, fund raising, and constructing, Phase 1 is finally completed on March 2010. The 12 sun bears we had currently will be moved to the new bear house starting on April. This is an exited moment that everyone, including the sun bears, have been long waiting for. For me, this is a very important accomplishment and also the beginning of my new career. For the captive sun bears, the moment when they finally re-united with the forest where they truly belong, means the beginning of a new era for sun bear conservation. From now on, they can re-experience what was long missing in their life: touching the soil, feeling the trees, and getting wet by the tropical rain. In the same time, we could learn more about them, care more about them, and provide more helps to them.
The completion of Phase 1 also means the beginning of Phase 2. Phase 2 hold the key for the success of the entire project because only with the completion of the Phase 2 that we could open the facility for the public and visitors to learn more about sun bear and have more personal experience with them. At the same time, we could also generate revenue from ticketing and collect donation to make our project self sustain and viable.
Again, back to the dream. Now the dream of Phase 1 has completed, and the dream of getting Phase 2 done is just begun.
Thank you everyone for being with us all these time to give hands and supports when we needed most. This project is belongs to all of us who shared the same dream – the dream of providing the unfortunate captive sun bears a better home, the dream of learning more about this little known species, and the dream of helping the sun bears from disappearing from SE Asia.
So, to all sun bear lovers and supporters, this is our plan for Phase 2 of the BSBCC:
After 8 months of non-stop of hardwork under hot tropical sun and pouring rainforest’s rain by the construction workers, volunteers, and supervision of the contractors and architects, the first Bear House and the 4 forested enclosures of BSBCC are finally done! This is the first achievement of BSBCC and I would like to thank everyone who has help us in so many ways to raise fund, raise awareness, spread the words of our cause, help us taking care of the bears, and also physically build the bear house and the forest enclosure.
With the completion of Phase 1, we are also entering Phase 2, which, at this point still lack of funding to start the construction. However, the completion of the bear house means a lot to the captive sun bears currently under our care because they can finally have a better living environment with access to natural forest. In addition, with the extra cages, we can start rescue the other captive sun bears across the state and bring them into our care.
It has been 6 years since Dr Sen Nathan and I talking about this project. Six year is a long time for us to come this far and six years is a long time for the bears to wait for the new home. I feel sorry that these bears have to wait for so long for a better home. However, I have tried very hard to make this project come this far, again, thanks to many people, especially Cynthia Ong and Nancy Abraham, who give us a lot of supports and helps.
Without your help, this project would not come this far.
Without your support, the construction of this bear house would not have been completed.
March 22nd is the official “hand back over” day of the buildings from the contractor to BSBCC, the opposite of the “hand over” from us to the contractor to start building some 8 months ago. On this day, BSBCC will move into a new era by helping individual sun bears, and later, expend the helps to their population in the wild and finally the species.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the new bear house of BSBCC!
As the construction of Phase 1 (Bear House 1 and 4 forest enclosures) getting closer and closer to completion, WE ARE GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER to the date where we anticipated so much and so long. The new bear house is almost done by now (see photos below). After this weeklong Chinese New Year holiday, the construction of the fences will began, follow by the installation of electric (hot) wires to prevent bears from climbing up and escape. Then, on April 5th, is the date that we waited for so long- the moving of the bears to the new bear house and enclosure. This date will be the first achievement of all the hard works and supports we received from so many people across the world.
We hope BSBCC can be a model for conservation project where government agencies, NGOs, biologists, local and international communities all working very hard together regardless of nationality, races, sexes, social status, incomes, professions, etc., to save an endangered species in this country. We are all here working together because we want to make a difference for the future of sun bear, other precious wildlife, wildlife habitat, humanity, and finally to the mother Earth!
Thank you all of you for your support and helps!
Photo and Text by Ian Hall
Our site being low lying and barely above the water table has degenerated into bottomless gloop. Luckily most of the building was up before the rainy season but materials deliveries and availability of dry working space has suffered. Under the conditions the contractor has done us proud and the quality of workmanship in the most important components, the cages, is excellent.
One final hurdle remains after that, to connect the forest enclosure electric fencing to the building so that the bears’ release into a natural environment can be controlled. There has been much chin scratching on the part of all partners; Wildlife, Forestry and BSBCC on this one. Wildlife Dept are concerned about orang-utans getting into the bear enclosure and Forestry Dept are concerned about how they are going to prune trees to prevent arboreal bears from escaping the enclosure!
It was never going to be an easy task ensuring that captive bears have controlled access to primary rainforest however this is the feature that will set this sanctuary / conservation centre apart from any other.
There are so many stories that I had in my mind that I would like to blog about that told the world. However, finding time to do it always become challenging, or by the time I feel like I have a little time to write before bed time, my eyes and my fingers were too tired to work. Is this call aging??
Anyway, one blog posting that I always like to post is about the progress of the building construction of bear house. It has been going on schedule (consider a very good sign as most construction works here in this part of the world are always delay and fall behind schedule).
These photos were taken from the site on November 30th by Ian Hall. I let these photos speak for themselves. As you can see, we are getting there!
After the Phase 1 construction is done, our big challenge is to raise fund for the Phase 2. Believe me that we are still working hard to raise the fund need for Phase 2 but unfortunately we did not have a lot of success. If you know someone who can help, please help us spread the words.
Seriously, I am praying hard and working hard to find fund for this project. This is my hope, our hope, and the hope for the sun bears as well.
Thank you for all of your support and helps. Together we can make a difference!
Photos: Ian Hall
Text and Photos by Billy Dunn
When Ian asked me to write a piece for the blog about my first experiences living and working in Sabah, Borneo, I initially thought of the obvious cultural differences; food, drink, climate, wildlife etc. These of course are all very interesting and important…
…but in order to give my own unique view so far on Sabah that would provide something a bit light-hearted to think about, I have decided to write about a topic I experience everyday…builders.
It is interesting to make you aware that this is in fact my first experience of working on a building site. During my working year out from studying Architecture back in the UK I never left the office so my first encounter with working alongside builders has occurred here in Sepilok! Whether this is a good or bad introduction to the daily life of a construction site remains to be seen!
To paint the picture I’m going to compare the general rules and stereotypical habits of builders in the UK to the builders here, who in fact originate from the Philippines.
Imagine this process in Britain; The builders are arranging the reinforcement bars and formwork for the concrete roof tie beams. They would have big, sturdy, steel toe caps boots on, wearing helmets and high visibility vests and standing on a carefully erected scaffolding platform, probably attached to a harness. They would be wearing gloves and would overall be secure in the job they were participating in.
Now imagine this in Sabah; The builder’s protection on their feet (if any) is flip flops. I haven’t actually seen a helmet since I have been here. The only thing they wear on their heads are large sombreros. The scaffolding platform they are clambering up and balancing on top of is swaying with every swing of the hammer they take. The closest thing to a safety harness they have seems to be a cigarette in their mouth as no-one would dare be up there without one. It also seems to help them balance. So imagine a builder two storeys up; he is swinging away at the nails whilst puffing away on his fag and carefully balancing in his flip flops which are almost falling off his feet, all whilst on top of the jelly scaffolding!
So this was my first impression of construction. I initially watched every move with horror waiting for something to go wrong but I have now become fascinated with the way they work.
On a typical British building site there are heavy rules about no children allowed on site. Here, there are not only children on site, but they are actually the builder’s daughters! One of the girls, who can’t be any older than 5, quite freely walks around the nails and bits of stray material, barefoot, beneath the scaffolding. If she gets a little bored she’ll pick up a hammer and start nailing something, all in the proud eye of her father!
In Britain, the use of heavy machinery is a serious responsibility. In Sepilok, on a Sunday afternoon with the family watching and in between using the bucket for distributing concrete to be poured for the tie beams, the excavator becomes a serious piece of fun. The two guys, rather than climb back down the wobbly scaffolding, calmly jump into the bucket and hold on tightly to be dropped and raised spectacularly like a rollercoaster. The driver has his headphones in listening to music by the way, but the smiles on their faces was worth all the safety issues of course.
Welding should be approached using a protective mask as exposure to the glare can damage the eyes. Here, I’m still scratching my eyes in amazement (no pun…) wondering if any welders here can see. One particular welder must enjoy the overall itchy, irritable blind sensation as he sits wearing sun glasses with his face a foot away from the new bear cages being welded.
At home, if we get a spell of bright weather, the typical builder loses his top to expose his pasty white belly and “builders crack.” The radio from the van is blaring out and the Sun Newspaper is being thrown around. All of this is in fact the opposite here. With the constant hot conditions, a majority of the builders like to cover up completely from the sun. This involves long tight sleeves, long skinny jeans and usually a t shirt wrapped around his head with a pair of sunglasses, all in 35 degrees of heat. There are no radios required as the Philippine guys enjoy singing their hearts out whilst on site; we’ve had everything from Janet Jackson to the Beatles.
From all these comparisons there are two characteristics British and Malaysian builders have in common.
The first involves females. It is in fact in the small print of builders’ rights that at any stage should a member of the opposite sex come into sight, then all work can pause. During the construction of the Biogas Digester on site, we had eight female volunteers from Camps International. Before the girls could pick up a brick I realised that the eyes of three sets of builders were directed at them; the guys working directly next to us, a group near the gate working on the new orang-utan nursery and another at the top of the hill. All tools were laid down, wheelbarrows dumped and engines switched off to admire the girls! Unlike the British way of approaching girls, there were no wolf-whistling or sexist comments but simply a calm stare!
The second is to enjoy riding in vans. Any opportunity to hop in the van to go somewhere is gladly received. Here you have the added bonus that more can fit on the back of the truck with one hand holding onto the roof and the other waving goodbye to the girls. The dashboard of your van must also be filled with old newspapers, used drinks cartons and any invoices that were supposed to be given.
Above all I would like to stress that working with the local builders is a pleasure. They always have a smile on their face, will always greet you and say goodbye and will share any English they know with you. Through all the tricky conditions they face, they get on with their work to a high level and all for a very minimal wage. They also gladly get involved with helping the sun bear volunteers when they can see we’re struggling and are happy to share their knowledge and tools.
I will write a sequel to this blog one day once I have experienced all this through the British builder’s perspective!
* Billy Dunn is the assistant of our architect Ian Hall from UK
Photos by Jocelyn Stokes
Text & Photo by Jocelyn Stokes
Yesterday, while playful Suria was chewing on a stick or two, the BSBCC crew was busy re-cementing the floor of the larger enclosure. Although, she doesn't know it yet, Suria will soon be moved back into the large activity area where she will have quadruple the space to roam and play. The problem began when the bears started to dig up the cement flooring, which injured the padding on their paws. Suria had to be quarantined briefly to prevent further injury while the floor was repaired. Now, we are all excited to see her moved back in!
Further excitement is also spreading with the steady progress of the new bear centre roof. The construction workers have been diligently preparing for this task and are now busy realizing the completion of the new ceiling. Also being laid, currently, are the first bricks of the new centre. Great work everyone!
GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY on Friday, 17th July, 2009 at 9:00 am
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) ground-breaking ceremony on 17th July2009, at BSBCC Phase I site adjacent to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre near Sandakanrepresents the beginning of construction of this three-phased project. The project is a partnership between the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Sabah Forestry Department and the NGO LEAP. The Guest of Honour for the event is YB Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture andEnvironment, and the programme will include the ceremony at the site of the new bear house andforested enclosures as well as a chance to view some of the Sun Bears currently at the Centre.This ground-breaking signifies the start of Phase I of construction of the Centre and marks asignificant step in the establishment of a new home for captive Sun Bears in Sabah, where theywill have daily access to the forest and an enriched environment, as well as improved, custombuiltnight quarters. Phase I, which is expected to be completed in six months from the date ofground-breaking, involves the construction of a new bear house with capacity for 27 bears (eachin individual cages) and an adjacent one-hectare forest enclosure within the Kabili-Sepilok VirginJungle Reserve. Please see Phase I site plan for layout. The finished centre will have capacity for43 bears, two-hectare forest enclosures, a visitor centre, an observation gallery and a nature trail.Please see Phase I, II & III site plan for layout. The larger vision is for the bears to be in anenvironment which will prepare suitable ones for eventual release into appropriate wild habitat.RM1.3 million was raised at the Bear Necessities fundraising dinner in Kota Kinabalu in Novemberlast year, with RM650,000 from the private sector and a government match of one-to-one. Thesefunds will go directly to the funding of Phase I. Efforts are now underway to raise funds for bothPhase II (RM600,000) and Phase III (RM900,000), and the hope is that these phases will followupon the completion of Phase I.
The event will be a gathering of BSBCC partners – Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah ForestryDepartment and LEAP, private sector donors and supporters from the Bear Necessities event,building contractor and consultants, and BATs – Bear Action Teams volunteer partners frominternational organisations such as Raleigh International. The programme will comprise welcome speech by BSBCC Director Cynthia Ong, audio messagefrom BSBBC CEO Wong Siew Te (currently completing his PhD in Montana, U.S.A.), speech byGuest of Honour YB Datuk Masidi Manjun, song dedications by Malaysian singers Shayna Zaid andAmir Yussof, and a “Mongimpi” cleansing and blessing ritual by Bobohizans of the Kadazan tradition.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 088-270705.