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Few weeks ago a friend who is an English teacher told me that my work on sun bear was mentioned in an essay inside a SPM English test reference book. SPM is the acronym for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or Malaysian Certificate of Education, a compulsory government examination for all high school students in Malaysian government school system. It is a short essay where students are required to answer series of questions generated from the essay.
This essay may seem ordinary like other essays in an English reference book. However, this short exercise means a lot to the conservation of sun bear for few reasons. Sun bears still remain as the least known bear species and least studied. Even majority of the general public in Malaysia do not know about sun bear. Although short and brief, it is probably the first article on sun bear ecology and conservation ever published in Malaysian education curriculum. Students who read this essay most probably heard about the sun bears for the first time in their life! This article featured me as a local researcher and my works on sun bear. It helps to inspire them that wildlife biologist and conservationist can be Malaysian too and not necessary westerners as featured in TV or other mass media. If they have the interest, they can also be a biologist and conservationist whose job is to safeguard and conserve our wildlife and national natural treasures.
I sincerely hope that educators and publishers in Malaysia can write and publish more stories and facts not only on our own sun bear but also other less known wildlife species and forests. I can assure that these stories are very interesting, fascinating, amazing and will catch a lot of interest among our students who someday will be the hope for these wildlife and natural treasures from this country. This essay on sun bear and me is the beginning.
~ Siew Te Wong