Text and photo by Tee Thye Lim
"Is the Koala a bear species?''
Asked our Project Manager, Wai Pak to the primary school students of SK. St. Gabriel who visited our centre on the 23 Oct 2012.
"Yes, because it looks like a bear!''
A little girl raised up her hand and answered.
"No! Koala is not a bear!"
A little boy refuted from the opposite side. The argument continued for about 3 minutes until Wai Pak announced the answer.
"No, Koala is not a bear species, it is a type of the Marsupial, same family with the kangaroos" said Wai Pak.
Most of the kids have an idea of a sun bear. They've seen it on TV programmes, perhaps on the internet, however not in a natural environment.
Some of them also mentioned about the local TV programme, TV3 which aired a documentary about BSBCC last week end: <Sunshine in Sepilok: Tales of the Bornean Sun Bears>
Later, knowing that they were about to see real, life Bornean sun bears, the smallest among the smallest of the bears in the world, the kids couldn't wait.
The SK St. Gabriel students at first did not see the Sun Bears roaming at the visible spot.
Fortunately, they were able to join the second group of visitors on that day which was the students of the American International School of Hong Kong, guided by the Animal Projects & Environmental Education (APE) Malaysia team.
This time everyone was able to spot the sun bears. More excitingly, sun bears climbing the trees!
At the end of the visit, SK. St. Gabriel presented a drawing to BSBCC. It was inspiring! Thank you so much!
Also, many thanks to APE Malaysia team for your donations! Not forgetting the hessian sacks you brought us. The bears will definitely love rubbing themselves on them!
Lastly and most importantly, thank you for sparing time and efforts to visit our Centre. It was such a great opportunity for us to share the needs of this small small bear species!
Text by Gloria Ganang and photos by Tee Thye Lim
On the beautiful sunny morning of the 14th August 2012, the BSBCC team started the day with a preparation for a remarkable visit of the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, HE Simon Featherstone and his family. Also present during the visit was the Council’s guests, Shire President of Boyup Mr. Michael Giles and his family, the Australian Defence Adviser and Deputy Defence Adviser as well as the new Deputy Director, Office of Australian War Graves, Canberra. Their visit to Sepilok was their first time. The BSBCC team are so honored to welcome them!
They arrived at 2pm, just in time for the bears' 3rd feeding of the day in the forest enclosure. They were welcomed by the Officer in Charge of the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC), Madam Sylvia Alsisto, together with the BSBCC team and a group of international volunteers.
Their visit to the BSBCC was led by our Project Manager, Wai Pak and also assisted by other BSBCC staff. Everyone had a close view of the sun bears foraging and socializing in the forest enclosure. The staff described about the urgent needs of sun bear conservation and talked about the unfortunate background of each of the sun bears they saw in the enclosure.
After the visit to the BSBCC, the VIP visitors proceeded their visit at the SOURC which they were welcomed by a group of orang utan hanging on bamboo stems at the SOURC entrance. This is followed by a tea session with the staff. The visit ended with a presentation of souvenir to the HE Mr. Simon Featherstone. Warm wishes from the BSBCC staff! We hope you enjoyed your visit at our centre!
Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Dawn Tukalan & Thye Lim
The day at BSBCC on the 4th of July started with a big preparation for the Environmental Education Race (EERace) activity at the centre. The EERace is an environmental education programme held annually in the heart of Borneo districts of Sabah. It is organized by the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) under the Sabah Forestry Department, together with many government and private organizations. The aim of the race is to enhance and deepen teacher's knowledge and experiences on the environment.
A team of 4 participants and 3 facilitators reached the centre at 9.30 am with no idea of what was planned for them. The first activity was the “Bear Acting” activity where the participants was placed in cages as displayed animals. The BSBCC staff and facilitators acted as visitors. They were camera flashes and food thrown from outside the cages. The participants were also ignored for a few minutes, when everyone stepped away from the cages. The purpose of this activity is to allow the participants to experience what it feels like to be badly treated by people who visits displayed animals. Later, the participants shared their experience to everyone. They felt awful and threatened of the "visitor's" way of treating them. This unique experience encourages participants to understand the importance of prioritizing animal feelings and welfare.
The next activity was preparing “toys” or enrichment for the bears. The participants were given various materials such as cardboard, ginger leaves, ropes, honey, peanut butter and many kinds of spices. They were encouraged to use their creativity to construct "toys" for the bears. They produced great enrichment and the bears loved it!
The participants took a brief 30 minutes break before they continued with the tour around the centre. This focuses more on sun bear ecology and the aims of BSBCC as a conservation and rehabilitation centre for sun bears in Sabah. Since the sun bear is known as the “least known” species among the bears in the world, describing the sun bear facts to the participants are fresh and fascinating. The activity ended with participants detecting sun bear claw marks on the trees along the boardwalk. We hope the participants enjoyed their half day activities at BSBCC. Looking forward for more exciting activities on next year's EERace!
Text by Anna Wade
Photo: Siew Te Wong
Here at the centre, enrichment is a key focus and it is important that all of the staff and volunteers have a complete understanding of what providing enrichment entails. Over a 3 day period, BSBCC project manager's Wai Pak dedicated his time to helping the team to understand the importance of enrichment for all captive animals as well as the importance of meeting the animals daily needs. In attendance were the 3 office staff, Gloria, Thye Lim and Dawn, 2 of the keepers, Daniel and Beyri, the 3 current bear volunteers, Anna, Miriam and Leanne and the volunteers on the travellers program… so it was quite a full room!
Wai Pak broke the talks into 3 categories; the 1st talk was on animal welfare, the 2nd was on enrichment and the 3rd was on types of enrichment, and also gave examples of when enrichment can go wrong. Everyone was encouraged to engage in the talk by asking questions and there was some very good points raised, especially in regards to what is best for our bears at the centre. Overall the response from everyone involved was very positive. As many of the enrichment ideas have already proven to be successful with the bears, it encouraged us to think more outside the box. Hopefully everyone will take what they learnt away with them and use it to positively improve the lives of the bears and any captive animals they encounter in the future. Thanks Wai Pak!!