By Chiew Lin May
Are sun bears threatened?
Their existence is being fast disappearing who threatened by illegal poaching, pet trade and loss of habitat! Please do something about it!
Text by Yvonne Chong Yee Wen
Photos by Yvonne Chong Yee Wen, Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah
The Bornean Sun Bear is scientifically known as Helarctos Malayanus. It is the smallest species of bear found in the tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia. Characteristics of sun bears include its long tongue (which is used to extract honey and insects) and a chest marking, unique to every sun bear.
Sun bears are opportunistic omnivores that feed mainly on termites, insects, larvae and a large variety of fruit species. Sun bears have several different roles within the forest, which provide many benefits to tropical ecosystems.
Sun bears are now facing the threats of commercial hunting and poaching, habitat loss, and being illegally kept as a pet. They belong in the wild. Please spread the word and protect the sun bear!
< 婆羅洲之子 —— 馬來熊 >
婆羅洲馬來熊（Bornean Sun Bear），又名太陽熊，也叫狗熊，學名為Helarctos Malayanus，屬哺乳熊科，它是全世界8種熊科動物中體型最小的熊類。馬來熊是依賴森林生存的物種，它們棲息和活動於東南亞地區的熱帶雨林，主要分佈於馬來西亞、越南、印尼、柬埔寨、泰國、緬甸、遼國、中國南部與印度東部等。
在1997年沙巴野生動物保護憲法之下，馬來熊已屬「完全受保護」品種（Totally Protected Species），凡觸法者，即盜獵、獵殺、販賣、飼養以及擁有有關馬來熊產製品的人將會面臨10萬馬幣罰款或被判10年徒刑，或兩者兼施。
Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Azzry Dusain, Tee Thye Lim, Seng Yen Wah and Chiew Lin May
Without the BSBCC, many captive sun bears would still live in small cages without HOPE; without the BSBCC many people in the world still would not know there is a bear species called the sun bear
– CEO & Founder, Dr. (Hon) Wong Siew Te, D.J.N
Poaching, pet trade and loss of habitat continue to pose a MAJOR threat to the survival of sun bears. Mother bears are often killed and their infants are sold in the illegal wildlife pet trade. Sun bears are very similar to humans - they cannot survive on their own without their mothers. It is tragic that sun bears are still being found orphaned. Sun bear populations have declined by more than 30% in the past 30 years, leaving the danger of imminent extinction in the wild a very real possibility.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s (BSBCC) CEO and Founder, Dr. Wong Siew Te has dedicated more than 20 years of his life to raise awareness and save the “forgotten bear species”. Wong founded the BSBCC in 2008 with the goal to conserve sun bears through a holistic approach that of improves the welfare of rescued sun bears, rehabilitation, education and research. Wong was one of the greatest sun bear conservationists.
The BSBCC has received 55 rescued sun bears since its foundation. Currently there are 44 rescued sun bears housed at the BSBCC. Sadly, we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of sun bears arriving at the centre in 2016. This trend is worrying as it shows that poaching is still going wild with rampant sale of sun bears or illegal bear bile medicine over websites and the numbers will continue to rise rapidly until drastic measures are taken to protect sun bears.
A three months old female sun bear cub Tan-Tan was bought by a person with the purpose of rescuing her from being sold in the remote region of Paitan. Most of the bears arrived at our centre will have in different conditions- frightened, stress and with wounds common to bears rescued from pet trade.
A lady decided to rescue an one years old male sun bear cub Nano when she saw Nano was kept in a small chicken mesh cage in Kota Marudu, north of Sabah. She purchased him from the seller for a price of RM1,500, with the purpose of saving his life. Nano was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and arrive at BSBCC on November 20, 2016.
BSBCC has been able to rehabilitate these orphaned sun bears after their years of trauma from being locked up in small cages and sold in the pet trade. Most of our bears have had an extremely difficult lives having witnessed the death of their mother, traumatic experiences through being sold as a pet, suffered unimaginable abuse, infected wounds and poor diet. Being taken away from all of that they had known...many will show stereotypical behavior and will growl in fear.
This has all changed with the greatly appreciated help from Sabah Wildlife Department. They assist in providing care and medical treatment for rescued bears. Our rescued bears will receive round the clock care from our Bear care team by helping and encouraging the bears to build up their strength as well as learning to trust their cares.
Enriching the lives of these rescued bears is an important part of bear management, which improves the bears’ lives by giving them a second chance to survive in the wild. We will make sure that the bears are having their choices and freedom. Little by little, after each rescued bear has passed their quarantine period, they will move on to the next step in the Bear house – a peaceful and safe place they have deserved all their life! Integrating with new friends, giving them access to forest enclosures for them to learn pertinent skills for survival and last but not least get them ready to be back into the WILD.
Even relishing every chop of fresh fruit, playing with their enrichment, roaming the forest, foraging for insects, inquisitive, exploring, snoozing, climbing trees, finding HONEY bees, enjoying the sunshine, tapping to check weak points of dead logs and building tree nests, play fighting with their fellow bears in the BSBCC. No more pain and letting go of the traumatic life – perhaps they are enjoying the smell of freedom !!
Let look how our rescued sun bears learn become wild bear!!
Most of you still remember Mary, a two months old sun bear cub that she was held captive in a cage as pet. She was found to be very malnourished when she first came to BSBCC because her previous owner did not fed her with milk. Her growth stunted and walking in an abnormal way. Now, Mary has improved a lot where every day for her is a treat of good food, friend and freedom.
Every individual sun bear at BSBCC has their own personality. They are growing independent every day. Strong characters like Amaco, Diana, Tan-Tan, Wawa and Nano have emerged. Slowly the rescued bears realize with their new life that they are now in a different, safer, healthier, and happier bear world which is their own.
For example: Tan-Tan is the holder of the record breaking all records among all sun bear cubs we have had so far: At six months old she could construct a little nest in the tree using broken twigs and leaves. It was truly amazing to see!
Besides that, due to the emotional trauma that resulted from his being kept as pet, Nano was very stressed and in pain. After one year, Nano finally has reduced his stereotypical behavior by spending more time with his bear friend, Noah. He is on the road to recovery. We tear up just thinking how Nano has finally overcome his fear...
Sun bears are beautiful animals in nature. They deserve the chance to go back to the deep forest and to become a WILD bear. We all have two things that the sun bears do not, which is a voice and freedom. Please use your voice to help them and stop the hunting or killing of sun bears, we can make a difference to their future survival. Together we must save the sun bears!
On behalf of our rescued bears, a big bark THANKS to Wong, our supporters, funders, volunteers, friends and bear care team for taking care, supporting and loving them!
Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May
On the 30th of October 2015 we were pleased to welcome two new rescued sun bears to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
Introducing Boboi (Rescue Sun Bear 45), a one year old juvenile, male sun bear
Kitud (Rescue Sun Bear 46), a 14 month old juvenile, female sun bear
Both bears were handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department in Singgaron village, Ranau district. They were both ex-pets. Their names were given to them by their previous owners who surrendered them to authority.
The story reported to the rescue team was that Boboi originally was from Pitas, Sabah and Kitud was originally from Mengkapoh village, Ranau district. Both of them were handed over by people. They were kept together in one cage and were fed with milk, rice and fish.
On the 1st of November 2015, we conducted a health check for Boboi and Kitud. Dr. Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam from the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah’s Wildlife Department performed a general health check. This included an assessment of their overall health, potential sickness, function of the internal organs, and physical condition. Boboi was 15.55kg and Kitud was 12.1kg. The blood test results have shown Boboi and Kitud are healthy.
We are glad to report that Boboi and Kitud are showing positive signs of improvement. Kitud is very slow paced when eating and quite well behaved compared to her friend, Boboi, who is a very cheeky and energetic sun bear. He will find ways to enjoy himself. These two bears have a very close bond and can be seen loving to hang out together. They spend their time foraging, exploring, sharing their food, play fighting and climbing together.
On December 15th, 2015 Kitud and Boboi were integrated with Tan-Tan (an eight month old, female sun bear cub). This was a special day for Tan-Tan as it was her first contact with another sun bear after a very long time. They discovered a wonderful new friendship.This allowed them to greatly improve social skills. Tan-Tan seems to become more playful when interacting with Boboi and Kitud. The three sun bear cubs are living together and are sharing one large den. All worked out well with the integration and they did not show any signs of aggression.
Here are some pictures that show how the three sun bear cubs play fight and settling into their new life.
Boboi, Kitud and Tan-Tan are given different types of enrichment to stimulate and prepare them for life back in the wild. Boboi is always curious, huffing on the new enrichment toys while Kitud and Tan-Tan will normally without hesitation just destroy or play with it. They like to be dirty while enjoying the never ending enrichment and love getting care from our bear care staff. They are relishing in the extra space to play, run and climb. Boboi and Kitud have quickly adjusted to their new surroundings. They get a balanced diet that comprises of milk, vegetables and fruits. They are not choosy when it comes to food and have a good appetite. These three cubs are happy to leave their past lives behind and are learning to be wild bears again.
The sad reality of each rescued sun bear cub at our center is that they came from having lived through a bitter past; usually kept or traded by humans and having been separated from their mother at a very young age. These three little rescued bears are no different. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s mission is to conserve sun bears through improving animal welfare, raising conservation awareness with education, conducting research, and rehabilitating the sun bears like Boboi, Kitud and Tan-Tan who have a second chance at returning to life in the forest! Sun bears are in grave danger of extinction in the wild and we need to help them as much as we can. Please spread the message that sun bears belong in the wild and should not be kept as pets, no matter what the circumstances.
The Star Online, 22th August
BY YUEN MEIKENG
KUALA LUMPUR: Apart from standard fare, the kitchen of a restaurant in Cheras was allegedly serving up exotic dishes featuring bear’s foot and tapir’s nose under its “special order” menu.
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) enforcement officers raided the restaurant and seized 2.95kg of bear flesh, 1.2kg of pangolin scales, three soft-shelled turtles, 20 bats, 7.4kg of wild boar parts and other types of exotic meat.
“The animal parts were found in the kitchen and freezer of the restaurant during a raid by the Perhilitan wildlife crime unit,” said Perhilitan enforcement director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim during a press conference here yesterday.
He said Perhilitan officers had observed the restaurant for two months before making their move because the exotic meat was not offered daily.
“The demand for the dishes is high. The average price of an exotic dish sold by the shop is about RM60.
“Those featuring bear’s foot or tapir’s nose should fetch higher prices,” Abdul Kadir said.
Two restaurant workers – a man and his sister, both in their 40s – were arrested to assist in investigations but were granted a RM15,000 bail each with two sureties.
The pair are expected to face court charges on Sept 19.
Among others, the case falls under Section 68(1)(b) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 for taking or keeping any part of a totally protected wildlife without a special permit.
Those convicted can be fined up to RM100,000, jailed up to three years or both.
Abdul Kadir said Perhilitan officers also raided four restaurants in Kedah for similar offences and made similar seizures that included what is thought to be the head of a clouded leopard.
“There have been 78 cases involving wild boar meat, five involving bats and four involving tapir parts reported since 2006,” he said.