By Wong Siew Te
The weekend of the October 14th was a busy weekend for BSBCC and the sun bears in Malaysia. First it was the TV3's hour-long documentary on sun bear and BSBCC in their popular TV program Majalah 3 broadcasted on Oct 13th. Then the momentum picked up when another hour-long BSBCC documentary Big Dream Little Bears was being screened at the 5th Kuala Lumpur Eco-Film Festival.
This screening of the Big Dream Little Bears not only raise awareness on sun bears and the story of BSBCC to the audience in KL, but also brought Howard Jackson and Audrey Low to KL and have a big reunion after two and a half years. Howard and Audrey owned Wildhoop Production, the film makers who produced, filmed, and directed Big Dream Little Bears. Without Howard and Audrey, we would not have stood there in front of the audience during the film festival.
The weekend long even started with the screening of Big Dreams Little Bears together two other films at Palate Palette Restaurant and Bar on the evening of October 11th. It was a cozy event where audiences and fans packed the function hall on the second floor of the restaurant. The screening was well received with questions and answers at the end of the screening.
Special events and screening of other eco-films continued on the following three days at the Experimental Theater, University Malaya. The finale of the film festival was scheduled on the 14th at University Malaya where the screening of many eco-films started from the late morning to the evening. Big Dream Little Bears was screened to a much larger audience than the Palate Palette at the very last of the event. The audience enjoyed learning the facts of sun bears and challenges to save the least known bear on Earth.
Thanks to the KL Eco-Film Festival organizer, especially Yasmin Rashid, founder of Eco-Knights for their kind invitation for us to join the eco-film festival. The festival has been an important event to make more and more Malaysia know about our very own species of bears that live in our forest and serve important ecologic roles to maintain the health of our forest ecosystem!
Please watch "Big Dream Little Bear" here: http://muvi.es/w538/37115
A huge success for the TV program Sinar di Sepilok: Kisah Beruang Matahari Borneo (Sunshine in Sepilok: Tales of the Bornean Sun Bears) broadcasted last weekend October 13th at Malaysian TV Channel TV3. The one hour program was produced, directed, and narrated by TV3's journalist Irin Putri in her Majalah 3 (Magazine 3) documentary. The program has been overwhelmed by the general Malaysian viewers. To most of the viewers, this was the first time that they know about sun bears and the work we do at BSBCC. According to TV3's survey, at least 1.8 million viewers have watched this program on prime time last Saturday.
If you miss the show or if you from oversea, you now can watch the program online at:
Just register with tonton.com.my and you will have access to view it online.
Enjoy the show!
One additional notes: Irin first contacted me on July 2010 about her interest to do a program on sun bear. This is what Irin wrote more than 3 years ago:
From: Irin Putri Azmi
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:01 AM
Subject: TV3 Majalah 3 On Sun Bears
I'm with TV3's magazine-documentary programme called Majalah 3. I've been interested to do a special feature about you and the sun bears for a while now. I would like to know if you're interested to be featured.
As the very few sun bear experts in Malaysia, I believe you are the best person to convey the message about sun bears and their conservations efforts to the local audience.
I look forward for your reply. You may contact me at 012-xxx xxxx for further information.
Irin Putri Azmi
Executive Broadcast Journalist
Wow! I did not realize that it has been 3 years. Thank you Irin for your persistency to make this TV program a reality. Along with millions of viewers, I would like to thank you and TV3 for helping us to spread the words and make sun bear no longer a forgotten bear!
Text and photos by Wong Siew Te
Malaysian TV station TV3 came to make a TV program for their popular TV documentary series Majalah 3 from September 14 - 19, 2012. The filming crew is consisted of the host and producer of the program, Irin Putri, a camera man, and a sound technician. The film crew has taken many rare footages of the sun bears in both the forest enclosures and in the bear house, and filmed the daily busy routine of BSBCC. They also managed to film the moving of Fulung and Bongkut, the sun bear yearlings, to the new bear house, interviewed Wong and Wai Pak, and many others.
In conjunction of the broadcasting of the TV program, Wong will be interview in TV3's morning talk show Malaysia Hari Ini (Today's Malaysia) from 7:30 am - 9 am Friday Oct 12. The program is schedule to be air nationally through TV3 at 9 pm on October 13. On the following day, "Big Dream Little Bear" will be premier at the Kuala Lumpur Ecofilm Festival ay al 6 pm Sunday October 14, Experimental Theatre, Universiti Malaya.
This weekend, millions of Malaysians will learn about Malayan sun bear!
The 5th Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival is back with its annual celebration of award-winning environmental films, inspiring and motivating eco-themed workshops, talks/forums, exhibition of grassroots environmental organizations and their cause(s), and even an eco-drum circle performance.
We would love to grab you attention on the premiere of "Big Dream Little Bears" - a 50 minute documentary that gives a rare glimpse into the mysterious island of Borneo and an insider’s view of a ten-year dream to save the smallest bears on earth. Directed by Howard Jackson and produced by Dr Audrey Low, the documentary is an uplifting, often funny, story of one man’s determined dream to save the smallest, least studied and, pound for pound, most dangerous bears on earth.
Come watch the film for FREE on October 14th, 6 pm, at the Experimental Theater, University Malaya and meet the director, producer and STAR of the film and get engaged in issues related to conservation.
Come join me and the rest and indulge in a fun and inspiring weekend at the Festival! Don't forget to bring your RECYCLABLES to donate (old unused clothes, kids' toys, etc) or recycle and walk home with some amazing goodies from Tanamera Tropical Spa Products.
EcoKnights cordially invites
to the premiere of
Big Dream Little Bears
presented by wildlife biologist, Wong Siew Te
and the film maker of the film, Dr. Audrey Low and director Howard Jackson.
Date: 14th October 2012 (Sunday)
Time: 6:00 pm
Venue: Experimental Theatre, Universiti Malaya
Kindly RSVP before 5th October 2012
Contact: Ms. Dania Amani
Contact No: +603 - 7728 9799 / +6016 - 2966 225
Email : email@example.com
in conjunction with:
About Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival
The prestigious Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival is one of the country’s best film festivals and is an annual gathering for environmental activists, film industry insiders, cinema enthusiasts, filmmakers and critics. KLEFF is considered a major launching ground for the most talked-about environment-themed films. Founded in 2008 by local and grassroots environmental organization, EcoKnights, Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, presented in the Experimental Theatre, is a three-day international educational event celebrating the art of environmental film making and environmental advocacy. Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival’s long-standing commitment is to join filmmakers, environmentalists and film connoisseurs together to experience great cinema. The exciting schedule consists of over two dozen local and international filmmakers presenting their newest works, free workshops for the public, eco-music performances, talks, forums and remarkable discounts on eco-friendly products and services.
About Our Sponsors
Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival is supported Maybank Foundation, University Malaya, UM Cares, Astro, Natural Health, Tanamera Tropical Spa and Products, Nokia, Dockers Malaysia, Canon, Palate Palette, Green Drinks KL, Ecocentric Transitions, Greenovate, the Goethe Institute Malaysia, Bumi Hijau and international festival partner, View Fest 2012.
It’s been a long hill to climb getting Big Dream Little Bears ready for release. It’s hard for anyone outside the movie business to know how many processes a film goes through before it can be broadcast. Just look at the long list of credits on any small, seemingly low budget, documentary and think how many experts and expert wages are involved. It took a while, too long, for us to realise that we weren’t going to get any technical or financial help, so there were no options for us other than to give up on the project or do everything ourselves. Score the music, many hundreds of hours at the edit suite, colour grade, record voice-overs, do the graphics, sound mix, arrange preview screenings etc. etc. etc, on and on it goes.
It wasn’t much of a decision really. We knew we wouldn’t give up on it.
From the beginning, when we first began talking with Wong via Skype, we were determined to do a film that brought the actual people, the real experts doing the heavy lifting, to the forefront of the story. We’ve all seen so many, often very good, celebrity driven documentaries where the true stars of the story are relegated to the background. We thought surely there is an audience taste to meet these dedicated, hard working and hardy individuals doing the back-breaking, often dangerous work, for us all.
We’re glad film stars and other concerned celebrities break their busy schedules to use their high profiles to help. Fantastic. We congratulate them. It’s a selfless and much valued contribution. We believed there was also room for a film that got inside the lives of the people on the ground, a story that showed their hopes, fears, humour, disappointments and victories while fighting to overcome so many obstacles between them and their goals.
Judging from the wonderful reactions to our test screenings at universities and colleges here in Australia, and considering Big Dream Little Bears was selected by World Kids International Film Festival to tour schools in Mumbai for a year and is an Official Selection for the CSIRO Australian Science Film Festival, there is an audience hunger to delve a little deeper into the subject. We’ve had over 65,000 hits on our Youtube site alone. None of that helped us get it broadcast on TV of course, but frankly, we don’t give a damn, we’ve taken a page from Wong’s book, just keep moving forward, one small step at a time. There is an audience out there and we can get it to them, you, on the web.
It’s a great freedom actually, having done all the work and financed it all ourselves, we don’t owe any production company or network anything. It’s ours to do as we want. So we’ve decided to release it Video On Demand and give 40% of the profits to the BSBCC.
I remember well at one point while filming Big Dream I spent six or seven days on a ladder in the sun waiting for the first bear to take it’s freedom. Constant spider webs being woven on the camera, ducking bees, covered in ants, swatting mosquitoes, feet numbed and trying not to touch the electric fence (it finally zapped me). I would gladly triple that time than do one more minute of writing letters or filling in applications to get this film out to the world. Time to get the show on the road.
What better way and what better time to do so than to have Wong, the man who dreamt the dream to release the littlest bears on earth, officially announce the release of Big Dream Little Bears at his TED talk on the 14th of July.
I hope a lot of Malaysians see this program and realise what their incredible, highly trained fellow countrymen are doing to save their heritage. Borneo is a jewel of the world.
Howard Jackson & Dr Audrey Low
Posted on 20 April 2012 - 11:00am
Last updated on 20 April 2012 - 11:06am
NATIONAL Geographic Channel (NGC), FOX International Channels' (FIC) flagship channel in the factual genre, has again been selected as a major platform to help Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) promote Malaysia as a top travel destination in Asia. Five years after the first installment of the eco-travel documentary, Malaysian Journey, was broadcast on National Geographic Channel, MTPB signed up for another installment, which will focus on the country's beautiful rainforests.
Called Malaysian Journey: Rainforest, the new installment will be presented by Hollywood star and martial artist Jason Scott Lee, and will start airing on April 21 on NGC's global network.
"FOX International Channels' work with Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board has again led to a fantastic program that will appeal to viewers of National Geographic Channel around the world and in Malaysia," said Basil Chua, Director and Territory Head of Malaysia at FOX International Channels, "Malaysia has captivating natural wonders and this new installment of Malaysian Journey will help entertain and educate audiences across a wide range of audience demographics. We are proud to partner with our PayTV partner, Astro to premiere the documentary exclusively on National Geographic Channel, Astro Channel 553."
This year's installment of Malaysian Journey will focus primarily on Malaysia's famous rainforest regions. Hutan, a one-hour special, will feature the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, Taman Negara National Park, Tasik Kenyir Lake, Kuching, Gunung Mulu National Park and the Bornean Sun Bear Conversation Center in Sabah. The programs will be presented and hosted by Hollywood star and martial artist Jason Scott Lee, who also presented the first installment of Malaysian Journey in 2007. In the first installment of the program, Lee documented his hunts with the Semelais of Pahang, Silat sessions from a local master, life with the Rungus tribe in Sabah as well as life with fishermen on the Langkawi archipelago.
"Malaysia's flora and fauna is mesmerizing," said Lee. "I'm honored and thankful to National Geographic Channel for selecting me again for this second installment of Malaysian Journey. Viewers around the world will be able to see the beauty that Malaysia has to offer and the hospitality of the people from this country."
Lee, who is keenly remembered for his lead role in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, is a fervent environmentalist and conservationist. He shunned the lights of Hollywood and now resides on a 25-acre taro farm in Hawaii. There, he lives out his environmental beliefs of responsible farming and eating what he grows.–National Geographic Channel
Malaysian Journey with Jason Scott Lee – Rainforests (Episode 2) premieres exclusively on National Geographic Channel (Astro CH 553) on April 21, 2012. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL
Read more about this program at: http://natgeotv.com/asia/malaysian-journey/about
The program will be repeated again on
Thursday 26 April 2012 at 20:00 - National Geographic Channel
Thursday 3 May 2012 at 14:20 - National Geographic Channel
Read more about the news on Jason visited BSBCC http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/2011/10/05/jason-scott-lee-loves-sun-bears-how-about-you/
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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STILL THEY COME…
BSBCC has become home to three more bears since July!
On 23rd July BSBCC helped Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) in the rescue of an illegally kept captive sun bear from a palm oil plantation near Lahad Datu, southeast Sabah. Named Amaco, the 18 year old male was in fairly good health apart from bad teeth and mouth condition, having been fed on a diet consisting almost solely of rice and sweetened condensed milk. Amaco has been given medical treatment and has been temporarily housed in the old bear house and is slowly relaxing and settling in.
The following month, Fulung, a 9 month old male cub was brought to BSBCC by SWD staff, after being surrendered to the SWD Wildlife Rescue Unit by a villager from a remote part of southwest Sabah who had had the cub for several months, after hunting dogs had apparently found it in the forest. Fulung was malnourished on arrival but is now putting on weight and is being kept temporarily in the old bear house under quarantine.
A third new sun bear, Mary, arrived from Lok Kawi Wildlife Park on 12th September 2011. A female cub, possibly 6-8 months old, Mary had been kept by villagers in central Sabah since July. She shows signs of malnutrition and calcium deficiency but otherwise appears healthy, and has also been placed in quarantine in the old bear house. Read more about Mary.
A contract has finally been awarded to a local company for the construction of the BSBCC Observation Platform and trails to it, access boardwalk from the car park and upgrading of roads and drainage. Construction commenced at the end of September and should be finished by March 2012. Watch this space!
SPREADING THE WORD
Wong participated in the 20th International Conference on Bear Research and Management in Ottawa, Canada in July 2011, presenting a jointly authored paper on ‘The effects of selective logging on sun bears in lowland dipterocarp rainforest of Borneo’, and on October 1st gave a talk on BSBCC and sun bears at the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Over 40 people attended and the event was covered by the national press.
In September, BSBCC was thrilled to receive a donation of GBP500 (RM2,426.05) from International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals, IAPWA, a UK based NGO, to be spent on purchasing ceiling fans for the new bear house.
Both individual and group volunteers continue to be an essential and much appreciated asset at BSBCC. Here are some of the activities some of the recent individual volunteers have been up to.
September was the time for the annual health check for most of the bears – a routine medical assessment of their overall health, potential sicknesses, internal organ function and physical condition. It was also a chance to give vitamins and de-worming injections and take blood samples and even hair samples for future DNA studies. Read more...
FILMS AND FILM STARS!
The end of July saw the first ever Borneo Eco Film Festival, held in Sandakan, Sabah. Always eager to raise local awareness, Wong gave a presentation on ‘The holistic approaches of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to conserve sun bears in Sabah’ and there was a showing of the 20 minute promo film “BEAR TREK” by Wildlife Media Inc. featuring Wong carrying out his research at Danum Valley in Sabah. The event was well attended and, hopefully, the first of many highlighting and showcasing Borneo!
Actor and avid conservation supporter Jason Scott Lee visited BSBCC on 24th September 2011 as part of an eco-travelogue being filmed throughout Malaysia for National Geographic. Jason spent a whole day filming at the Centre, enthusiastically taking part in cleaning of the bear pens, feeding the bears in the forest enclosures and walking Mary the sun bear cub in the forest. Read more…
One of the locations where Jason Scott Lee visited during the production of this documentary was Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah. He and his production team spent one full day filming at the centre last week. Jason had a good time working with the sun bears and learning about this little known bears.
Jason started his day by cleaning the bear den. "Cleaning" may not be the best way to start anyone' day. However, to our Hollywood start Jason, cleaning bear feces, enrichment debris, food waste and others, was a good way to introduce the audience the amount of work load for taking care of these captive sun bears. After the cleaning, Jason and I cut two big buckets of fruits which we scattered fed to the sun bears in the forest enclosures later in that morning. All of the sun bears in the forest enclosures came out to greet us and feast on the fruits.
After lunch, we "walked" Mary the sun bear cub in the forest. Jason was surprised to see how attached Mary was on to me. "In the wild, sun bear cubs have to attach and follow their mother closely when they foraging in the forest. These orphan cubs do what their instinct tells them: following their mom". I explained. "Without the proper protection from mom, they probably will not make it to adulthood." The difference now for Mary, as an orphan, is that she has no mother to follow except me. I am her surrogate mother when I walk her in the forest. She has no choice but to trust me and put her faith onto me.
The other instinct that all sun bear cubs possess is the instinct of finding food in the forest. Beside fallen fruits, invertebrates such as termites, ants, earthworms, etc., are natural food that sun bears feed on in the wild. Although Mary walked slowly and moved slowly due to her malnutrition problem, she still has strong instinct of finding insects and invertebrates in the forest. That afternoon Jason and I observed Mary did a lot of digging and breaking into termite and ant nests, and spent the afternoon feeding on them. Good work Mary!
We hope Jason like other Hollywood celebrities who have visited BSBCC and learned more about the plights of the sun bears can help us spread the words about our works to conserve sun bears. Sun bears remain the least known bears in the world. The challenge for the conservation of sun bears is to overcome the very first step: let the public know about sun bear!