By SayLin Ong
Posted at http://blog.nus.edu.sg/nuspeace/2011/11/28/the-forgotten-bears-of-s-e-asia-presentation-on-sun-bears-uwc/
In May/June 2010, 3 friends and I spent a total of 5 weeks at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). The 4 of us were ex-colleagues at the Night Safari show department and were eager to put our husbandry and enrichment experiences to good use for the Sun Bears. Thanks to Mr Sivasothi, we were referred to Mr. Wong Siew Te, the founder of BSBCC.
Since returning from that internship, I have been sharing with people about the plight of Asia’s lesser-known bear species. My biology blog was initiated by that internship in Borneo. You can follow what went on during my internship here. In August 2010, I gave a presentation on the Sun Bears for a Toddycats Engage! meet-up session, a volunteer group from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS. I also had the privilege of submitting an article to the Jakarta Globe in April 2011, discussing about the oil palm industry and their threat to wild life in Southeast Asia.
Last week, I received a pleasant surprise in my email inbox. Sarah, a yoga instructor and mother of two boys who used to study at United World College (UWC), contacted me for help. She has never been to BSBCC but had come to know of Wong’s work through the internet. She had met someone in Singapore who spent a week or two at BSBCC and felt that it was important to spread the word here about the Sun Bears. She believes strongly in involving youths at such meaningful projects and wanted to help in any way that she could. Her sense of initiative was so strong that she had actually already created her own series of presentation slides based on information from the internet! I jumped at the opportunity to assist her.
The audience were high school students from UWC’s Global Concerns Group (PAW: Promoting Animal Welfare). From their expressions, I could tell that they were amazed by these incredibly special bears, the most arboreal and illusive of all bear species. I answered some questions pertaining to how they could visit as volunteers and what the conservation centre was like.
It was indeed encouraging to know that youths are so eager to lend a helping land to these precious Sun Bears of Borneo. It is also amazing to see how social media platforms have extensively influenced people like Sarah to be so passionate about conservation. I hope to continue raising awareness for the interests of Borneo’s remaining Sun Bears.