HELP US, SUPPORT US
BSBCC EE Unit was invited by KLK Sawit Nusantara Bhd to carry out an educational outreach programme to SJK (C) Yuk Choi, Sandakan yesterday on the 14th February 2023. Tagged along with us throughout the programme was HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Program (HUTAN-KOCP). Activities such as exhibitions, interactive talks and coloring the wildlife mask were included to attract students of different age groups, suiting their comprehension level. The presence of Sunny the Sun Bear also livened up the programme as the kids expressed their excitement on him.
We strongly believe education on wildlife conservation must start from our youngsters, so they can be the next generation continuing our job in the future. They will become the voice of the voiceless: nurturing them to love the wildlife will be the first step of all.
SK. Gabungan Telupid visit
Thank you, SK Gabungan Telupid, for visiting us yesterday. We are glad that they come from a distant location and chose to visit BSBCC for their school day-trip programs. They are given a guided tour to the observation platform to see the bear roaming in the forest enclosure of BSBCC.
We hope they enjoyed their time here, gained some knowledge about sun bears, and spread our words to save the smallest bear species in the world.
Volunteering at BSBCC
Text by Leah December Derksen
Photos by Jude Ailton George
I spent two weeks volunteering at BSBCC in January 2023. I am on a quest to learn from grassroots conservation centres, and was therefore excited to discover the work being done at BSBCC by Dr. Wong and his team. A naturally curious person by nature, I was full of questions, both mundane and arcane. The keepers and Dr Wong himself were happy to oblige me, doing their best to satisfy my never-ending queries. I am grateful for their generosity in sharing their knowledge and their patience.
When participating in new experiences time seems to fly by, and my time at BSBCC was no exception, as was the consensus amongst the other volunteers. Some learning curves were quickly mastered, like learning not to turn on the hose when the end is directly in your boot. Others were not so easy, like learning to visually identify each bear. Gradually the individuality of each bear became apparent, though I can’t say I came away entirely victorious in my identification skills.
Daily activities contained enough repetition to enable me to gain comfort and confidence with the tasks assigned, but enough variation to keep me engaged and constantly learning. The bears and the forest hold many wonders and I am thankful to have had an opportunity to have a glimpse of their lives.
While the bears are steal-your-heart adorable, it is worth repeating that BSBCC is doing the best they can, but ideally their bears would not be in captivity in the first place, which is largely due to the pet trade. It results in bears like dear old Amaco who was kept in captivity for 18 years before coming to BSBCC and was 30 years old at the time of my visit, who is unwilling to go outside, no matter how much coaxing the keepers do. He will never experience life in the forest. All he knows and will ever know is the confines of a cage. While carefully cared for by the keepers, his best life would have been in the forest.
Despite volunteers having only a short time at BSBCC, our role is not over when we leave. Advocacy remains one of the strongest tools of conservationists. So, share this message when you go home: wild animals belong in the wild. A bear or any other wild animal does not belong in your home. In the event of injury or orphaning, they should be cared for by those who know how to give them the best chance of returning to their natural homes. No matter how cute, no matter how unique, no matter how interesting, let’s leave the wild in the wilderness.
Also, continue to support the work of BSBCC and other agencies like it. Running NGOs is a constant fight for funding, so give financial support when you can. If you cannot contribute financially, lend your voice publicly, whether on social media or by telling your friends, family, and colleagues about your experience. Bears and the forest are not indestructible. If we do not work to protect them as Dr. Wong and his team are doing, they will not remain forever. Because it is due to human activity that their safety is threatened, it is our responsibility as a species to own up to and fix our mistakes.
From the bottom of my heart, BSBCC, thank-you for the experience I had here and all the work that goes on behind the scenes to further a mission that at times seems futile. Your work is appreciated and valued. For those considering volunteering at BSBCC, it will be a rewarding experience that you won’t easily forget.
School Visits from SK. Tanjong Aru, SK. St. Mary Labuk, SK. Sangau Kinabatangan and SK. Pulau Bum Bum Semporna.
We received four group visits in one day yesterday. These group visits are from SK Tanjong Aru, SK St. Mary Labuk, SK Sangau Kinabatangan, and SK Pulau Bum Bum Semporna. We are delighted that they chose to visit us for their school trip program.
The groups are briefed on the safety rules by our Environmental Education Officers, and they are brought to the observation platform to see the sun bears roaming in the natural forest enclosures. Also, we conducted the "Bear Observation" activity with each group of schools, where they needed to observe what the bears were doing in the forest enclosures and relate it to the bears' role in the forest.
We hope they had a great time here and gained some new knowledge about sun bears while helping us spread awareness by sharing their experiences with their friends and family. Thank you!
Sika - Born To Be Wild
Text by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
We are pleased to share that we have released our 12th bear into the wild! Our candidate was Sika, first rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department on the 9th February 2017 and set free exactly 6 years later on the 10th February 2023.
Sika was spotted by a foreigner who was travelling through a rural area called Kampung Sikalabaan in Pensiagan district, Sabah. She was found as a 4-month-old bear cub that was kept as a pet in a chicken mesh cage and was fed condensed milk, fruits and cereal. He then decided to call BSBCC and asked for help rescuing this bear cub. Sika first arrived BSBCC on March 1st, 2017. As a cub, she had strikingly beautiful blue eyes and eventually with extra love and patience she managed to overcome her traumatic past and developed into a lovely and playful bear cub. Her keepers at the time helped to teach her as much forest skills they could such as climbing, digging and foraging. She was off to a good start! She slowly gained the confidence as a young cub to develop the skills needed to survive outside in the forest.
As she grew older, she made new friends – BJ, Soo and Kina. These four were integrated while they were in the quarantine area together forming a close bond with each other. Eventually in 2020, the group was moved to the bear house where they could start their fence training before going out to the forest enclosure! Sika was the last to pass fence training but when she was finally out in the forest enclosure, she showed her amazing climbing skills. Always spending the longest in the forest enclosure usually up high in the trees and sometimes not wanting to come back to her cage! Spotting her from the perimeters of the fence was very hard as she mostly spent her time deep inside the forest not wanting our attention. A shy bear at nature and a master of disguise with her dark snout always hiding in the bushes. Occasionally we would be able to spot her resting in the hollows of a dead tree.
9th February 2023
It is finally the day to get Sika ready for her release! At 3pm, Dr Yeoh Boon Nie and the bear care team prepared all things necessary to relocate Sika into her translocation cage. After a last health assessment and a collar change, she was placed into the cage and was closely monitored by her keeper. By 12am, the team loaded her up onto the car and started their long journey to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Few stops were made to check on Sika’s condition, feeding her some banana and honey water to keep her hydrated for the journey.
10th February 2023
The team arrived Tabin Forest Reserve at 6am but unfortunately the weather was not on our side which caused some delays with the helicopter coming to relocate Sika. She was a little restless in the cage, but calmed down after the team put her by the river to cool down. Once the skies cleared up, the helicopter arrived at 10.15am. It’s go time!
After touchdown, the team made the last preparations and inspected the release site. When everything was set in place, it was finally time to let Sika free! We opened her translocation cage door at 12.11pm and Sika immediately ran out. Still in sight, she slowly and calmly explored her new environment until she went deeper into the forest. In a blink of an eye she was gone.
Words cannot describe the joy we felt seeing Sika back in the wild, where she truly belongs. Run free beautiful Sika, may you never encounter another human again!
BSBCC would like to give a huge thank you Yayasan Sime Darby and Hasanah Foundation for their continuous support towards our rehabilitation program. Other than our rehabilitation program, their contribution towards our efforts in promoting sun bear conservation, animal welfare, education and research have greatly helped support our cause. Thank you for giving captive bears like Sika a better life and also a fighting chance to be returned to the wild.
Once a star of BSBCC, always seen climbing and playing with her other friends like Fulung and Julaini. Now, she is one with the stars in the sky forever shining bright.
Rungus developed neurological syndrome since last year. After almost a year of fighting with this prolonged sickness and many months of different treatments, Rungus' condition has declined. It was decided that she shall not suffer any longer.
Rungus was euthanised on the 4th February 2023 and it was a sad time for everyone.
Rungus taught us the courage of life. She was cooperative to all kinds of treatment. We are amazed by her never-give-up attitude. As the disease progress gradually, Rungus learnt to cope with the deficit. Trust and bonding formed in between Rungus and her carekeepers. Life comes, life goes. Rungus lives on in our heart.
We are glad to be part of the "Program SERASI: Cintai Alam Sekitar" that was held by SK. Tangkungon this week. Together with our conservation partners, HUTAN-KOCP, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department, and Orangutan Appeal UK, we can raise awareness among teachers and students about the importance of nature and wildlife conservation. We hope that such a programme will be held again in the future so that we can encourage the young to love and protect nature and wildlife.
#environmentaleducation #bsbcc #savesunbear #lovenature #savewildlife #conservation
We are happy to welcome teachers and students from SK Sentosa Jaya, Kinabatangan to our Centre today! BSBCC's Environmental Education Officer, Haniff gave them a tour around the sun bear observation area and conducted the sun bear explorer activity, where the students get to learn about sun bears through the activity book while observing the bears in the enclosure. Thanks SK Sentosa Jaya for visiting us, we hope to see you again next time!
Today, BSBCC was visited by a total of 25 children from Tadika KEMAS Kg. Usaha Jaya, accompanied by their teachers and parents. Before they went to the observation platform, they were introduced to the sun bear and safety rules. While on the observation platform, the children were assigned to observe the forest surroundings and see the sun bears roaming in the forest enclosures. They seemed to be having a good time exploring the forest and seeing other wild animals. Hopefully the children will gain new knowledge about sun bears and help spread awareness among their friends and family.
#bsbcc #schoolvisit #sunbear #conservation
Forest Day Out!
Text and Photos by Jacquelyn Jill Jepiuh
Finally it’s Betung, Itam and Kipaku’s forest day out! After passing fence training, it is time for our three babies to be let out into the forest enclosure. The process started with letting them out individually first, then all together. Words cannot describe how excited we are to see them go out into the forest they deserve.
Kipaku was first to be let out alone in the forest enclosure. Our keepers placed a trail of his favorite foods on the ramp that lead into the forest. Once the guillotine door was opened, Kipaku was a little weary to exit at first but eventually followed the sweet smell of honey, peanut butter and marshmallows to the ramp. We watched in excitement as he started exploring his natural environment. However, he couldn’t help his curious self and got too close to the electric fence. Poor Kipaku got shocked and ran away grumbling and growling. He eventually calmed down but continued grumbling at the keepers. It was like he was complaining to them! Kipaku is naturally a forest lover – he loves to climb, dig and explore. He is a great explorer and show many natural bear behaviors.
Itam, compared to Kipaku and Betung, did not have the chance to be walked in forest as a cub so it took her a few days to build up the courage to exit the cage and go out into the enclosure. Eventually, we decided that she just needed a little support from her best friend Kipaku. Itam followed him and started copying everything he did! She would climb the same trees he would and dig where he dug. It is always a joy to see the friendship between these two bears. After a few days, we see Itam gaining the confidence to be the independent bear she should be in the forest. She, like Kipaku, also enjoys climbing, digging and exploring!
Betung absolutely loved being outside. She did not take long to go down to the forest ground and start exploring the enclosure. She was quite weary of the keepers observing her around the enclosure and wouldn’t come too close to the fence. However, she still enjoyed herself digging up bugs from dead logs and playing with the leaves on her own. She is always climbing up the highest and would stay up there playing with the tree branches and leaves. Betung is also a natural in the forest like her two other friends!
It was a fun sight to see all three being released together. Itam and Kipaku stuck close to each other with Itam never leaving Kipaku’s side. Betung, being the grumpy one, would get mad and bark at the other two when they would try to take her food. Eventually, they were all playing with each other in the forest enclosure. To give them this opportunity to be the bears they should be is very rewarding and a fulfilling feeling. Kukuton is still currently undergoing fence training but hopefully soon he can be united with the rest of the gang.
We would like to give a big thank you to Hasanah Foundation for their continuous support of our bear rehabilitation program. With this help Betung, Itam and Kipaku can finally enjoy their forest day out!
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PPM 219, Elopura,
90000 Sandakan, Sabah,