Happy New Year everyone!
It has been almost eight years now since Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was set up in April of 2008, and two years after we were opened to the public. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and support over the past eight years. Without your help, we would not be here; without your support we would not be achieving what we have achieved today! Thank you.
As we bid farewell to 2015, I would like to stress that 2015 was a year of achievements for BSBCC. Besides completing the construction of our second bear enclosure, we have fulfilled the fourth objective of BSBCC, that is, rehabilitation of captive sun bears into the wild. On May 16th 2015, Natalie was released into the rainforest of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. As we enter the new year of 2016, BSBCC is working concurrently on the four objectives that we identified eight years ago. These four objectives are:
Improve animal welfare of captive sun bears, education, research and rehabilitation. This means that in this new year, we will have more assignments than before, as well as facing more challenges than before!
However, thanks to all of you and your support, we will adopt a positive mind set to conduct the new assignments and accept the challenges as they come during this new year. A few important projects that are lined up for this year are:
1. The completion of the aerial walkway and the second observation platform which is kindly funded by the Sime Darby Foundation.
2. The release of Lawa into the wild. Lawa will be our second female adult sun bear that is rehabilitated at the Centre and is now ready to live in the wild.
3. The research project on the ecology of wild sun bears in Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Bengkoka Peninsula, north of Pitas in Sabah, to understand how sun bears adapt themselves in a human altered landscape. Both of these projects are conducted in partnership with Sunway University.
4. Continue our conservation education projects both at the Centre and at education outreach programmes.
5. Construction of our new gateway to make our entrance more obvious to visitors at Sepilok and free up more room at our visitor centre for more education activities.
All these projects, and others that are not listed here, require tremendous help and financial support to make them possible. We are optimistic and will work hard to raise sufficient funds to make these projects possible, just like how we did over the past seven years.
Currently BSBCC is home to 38 rescued sun bears. I am not happy to see all of them end up at BSBCC, as I know the sad stories behind all of them. However, I am glad that we can take good care of them as their welfare and lives are much better here than in the hands of their previous owners.
The responsibility of taking care of this growing number of sun bears (with more animals expected to be rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC) is huge and challenging. Most people might not know we need approximately RM15,000 to take good care of a rescued sun bear for a year. Yes, that amount will total up to RM570,000 (approx. US$142,000) a year for 38 sun bears! Now you see why your help and support are so important to us, because without your helping hands, we might not achieve the goals and purposes of BSBCC. Raising sufficient funds to take good care of the sun bears is a huge challenge. The physical work on the ground to take good care of them at our Centre is an even bigger challenge! Fortunately, we have dedicated staff and help from hardworking volunteers, we have the confidence to do a good job. After all, we are caring for sun bears for the past seven years!
An important factor that contributes to our success to conserve sun bears at BSBCC is due to the “positive feedback loop” effect: When we do good work to help the bears, more people will help and support us. When we receive more support, we can do even better work to help the sun bears! Based on this principle, our visitor numbers increased from about 50,000 in 2014 to 53,000 in 2015. I hope the visitor numbers in 2016 will be more than 55,000. Thanks to the encouraging number of visitors, we managed to generate sufficient funding to run BSBCC in 2014, 2015 and hoping for the same, if not better, in 2016. By this new year, the importance of tourism contributing to the Sabah’s economy becomes clearer.
According to the Minister of Tourism, Cultural, and Environment of Sabah, the revenue generated from tourism is becoming more and more important. In 2014, revenue generated from tourism has exceeded the revenue generated from the timber industry. In 2015, the revenue generated from tourism in Sabah totalled RM6.4 billion! At BSBCC, we would like to promote “Conservation
Ecotourism”, where the products of conservation promote ecotourism. In return, ecotourism pay for conservation and even better, everything else! We hope through this mechanism, the government and decision makers in this country value forest and wildlife as important natural resources that improve people’s livelihood and the country’s economy. If we were to enjoy the benefits from these natural resources, we have to protect, conserve and manage them well in sustainable ways. BSBCC has the ambition to be a role model for wildlife conservation in this country. We have come a long way to achieve what we have today because of your help and support. As the founder and the CEO of BSBCC, I hope my job inspires even more people to contribute their efforts to conserve sun bears and other wildlife and wildlife habitat in this country. With the Centre operating in its eighth year on this new year, our work to conserve the sun bears is just beginning. We have many plans, a lot of work, and many challenges ahead of us. Thank you for being with us over the years. We need your continuous help and support to make BSBCC live up to its purpose.
Again, I wish you all a Happy New Year! May all beings be happy, joyful, well, be safe & at peace!