Compassionate Conservation: The holistic approaches of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to conserve sun bears
Last week Wai Pak and I attended the Asia for Animal 2011 Conference in Chengdu, China. Representing Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, we are the only participants from Sabah, and one of the few animal welfare, care, and rescue organizations from Malaysia to attend the biggest event and gathering of the year for animal lovers all over Asian countries. The conference was hosted by Jill Robinson and her team at Animal Asia Foundation. During the conference, I am honored to deliver a talk during the "Compassionate Conservation" session and my talk entitled "The holistic approaches of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to conserve sun bears in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo." I am grateful to the organizer of the conference to provide the travel expenses for me to share our experiences working with sun bears with the audience.
The abstract of the talk is as following:
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is being developed in Sabah Malaysian Borneo as rescue, rehabilitation, education, and research centre for the sun bear. In Sabah, these bears continue to be threatened by forest degradation and habitat loss, illegal hunting for bear parts and to protect crops, and poaching to obtain young cubs for the pet trade. As a result of these threats, many young sun bears are living in unnatural and solitary captive conditions throughout Sabah, with no access to outdoor areas. The goal of the new BSBCC is to promote Malayan sun bear conservation by (1) creating the capacity to confiscate, rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild; (2) providing an improved long-term living environment for captive bears welfare that cannot be released; and (3) educating the public and raising awareness about this little known species through visitor and education outreach programs, and (4) conduct research on both captives and wild sun bears. The BSBCC was established as a non-profit organization in Sabah in 2008. It is a joint project among sun bear researcher Siew Te Wong, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD). Funding for the project is acquired through various grants from funding agencies, individual donations, government supports, and special events. Bear Action Teams (BATs) volunteering program provide the opportunity for locals and international volunteer groups to get involve on husbandry and construction of the facilities. We develop BSBCC from a holistic approach involving multiple levels of people that work toward compassionate conservation where animal welfare, education, research and conservation the species all meet on the same ground. This approach is particular important to conserve threaten species like the sun bears so that maximum conservation outputs can be achieved without wasting the already limited conservation resources in this region.
Beside attending the conference and meeting and networking with everyone. We also visited the AAF's Chengdu Moon Bear Rescue Centre. It was truly an eye-opening experience for us to see and to learn the day-to-day operations and husbandry of the centre which currently is home to more than 160 moon bears and few brown bears. We are grateful to the centre for letting Wai Pak stay for few more days after the conference to learn more about the day-to-day husbandry and veterinary care of these rescued moon bears. All of the knowledge is crucial to help BSBCC do a better job on caring and managing our rescued sun bears.
Finally I also visited the Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu to see the third species of bears beside the moon and the brown bears - the black and white bear- Giant Panda! They, of course, is the complete opposite of the little known sun bear because giant panda is THE super star, super celebrity, super worship, super popular and by far THE most well known bear species in the world!