As a former grantee of the GEF Small Grants Programme, BSBCC was invited to share its project on the two-day GEF SGP Best Practices & Knowledge Fair event held at the Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. Today, Dr. Wong presented on BSBCC's environmental education project, which has been funded by the GEF SGP from the year 2014-2016. We are truly grateful for the support provided by GEF SGP in helping BSBCC to raise awareness and educate the public on the plights of sun bears and the important need to conserve the species.
In preparation for our upcoming sixth year of operating as the BSBCC, and our transition into being a fully-functioning education center that will be open to the public 7 days a week, we took an important day-and-a-half out of our busy bear schedule for a staff retreat. We were very grateful to accept facilitation for the retreat from our partner organization LEAP (Land Empowerment Animal People) and leadership in team communication throughout the retreat from LEAP’s CEO and founder, Cynthia Ong.
During our time at the retreat, we created a timeline of each team member’s introduction with the centre, along with positive and negative experiences, which was inspiring and enlightening for us all. We also spend time discussing various aspects of the BSBCC that affect our overall progress, our ideals for successful rehabilitation and centre management, as well as, aspects that we look forward to developing. It was an engaging opportunity for the BSBCC team and LEAP to reiterate our mission, goals and vision for a successful centre and healthy transition into the new and improved Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre of 2014 and beyond.
Text by Tee Thye Lim
Photo by Dr. Sen Nathan and Tee Thye Lim
Avian Influenza, HIV/AIDS, SARS, and H1N1 are the types of diseases that share one common trait – they are animal-related. In other words, they are zoonotic diseases which are able to transmit between animals and humans.
A 4-day Regional Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife was held starting on the 26th November 2012. The workshop was organized by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) cooperating with EcoHealth Alliance (partner of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program).
Crews from Sabah Wildlife Rescues Unit (WRU), Sabah Wildlife Health Unit (WHU), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) were invited to participate in the workshop to learn more about the emerging infectious diseases from wildlife, since most of the participants will be the front line dealing with wildlife, knowledge on safety precautions and diseases is very important in order to avoid unhappy incidents.
The EPT program consists of four projects: PREDICT, RESPOND, IDENTIFY and PREVENT. Within these four days, the workshop covered the part of PREDICT project. As a PREDICT partner, country coordinator of EcoHealth Alliance, Mr. Tom Hughes has launched a research with a connection between local conservation and global health. PREDICT partners locate their research in the geographic “hot spot” and focus on wildlife that is most likely to carry zoonotic diseases-animals such as bats, rodents, and non-human primates.
The workshop covered the practices and topics below:
1. Zoonoses of rodents, primates and bats
2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Washing
3. Laboratory Safety
4. Sample Storage
5. Animal Capture for Sampling
6. Discussion On Field Site Selection and Deep Forest Sampling Methods and
7. PPE Equipment Demonstration
8. Mask Fit Test
9. Sampling, Identification, and Data Collection
When sampling at the field, remember that safety comes first. We do not know what kind of diseases are being carried by the sampling target, it could be dangerous or vital. By understanding the zoonotic diseases, the threat can be minimized by wearing proper PPE like gloves, masks and protection goggles.
This practice plays an important role in the prevention of zoonotic diseases.
When sampling wildlife, animal welfare comes first. Proper techniques of restraining and handling animals were practiced during the workshop. This session aims to show participants how improper techniques can potentially harm the animals or handler. During this workshop, bats and rodents were chosen as samples to show participants a proper way of carrying out a sampling.
The "Three-Rs" strategies were introduced and practiced during the workshop. The Rs stand for:
Replacement: Consider environmental sampling
Reduction: Fewest animals
Refinement: Most humane, least invasive techniques
The main idea of the “Three-Rs” concept is to minimize the impact of sampling to the wildlife population.
The Training Workshop on Surveillance and Prevention of Emerging Infectious Diseases from Wildlife ended on 29th Nov 2012 with handing over of certificates to all the participants.
Now BSBCC has something on PPE that needs to catch up. Some rules and regulations may need to be added into our list to be applied in our Centre soon!!