11/18/16

After the 30 days



Hooray! After 30 days, finally Noah finished quarantine. Noah is a 6 months old male bear cub. He was found in a villager’s orchard in Nabawan, a southern part of Sabah. After she realized Noah is a sun bear, a totally protected species in Sabah, she decided to surrender Noah to the Sabah Wildlife Department. And, this is the story how Noah came to BSBCC.



Opps! You found me!

He grown up so much compared to the day he first arrived! His body weight now is 12.70kg. He has started to eat solid food and his favorite foods are banana, papaya and of course Milk!

I think I got a bit hungry right now!

I think I got a bit hungry right now!

Noah is an energetic and playful bear. He is much enjoying his time playing especially with his bear care keeper. A bear cub is ideally attached to his/her mother until it two to three years old. But, now Noah is alone being just six months old. A mother will never abandon her own child. The only reason for the mother to be with her cubs would that she had been killed most likely by poachers. And make no mistake, poaching is still happening around us. So, please said No to poaching sun bears, instead help us save them. A bear cub needs a mother. A mother raises her child with lots of love and teaches her baby how to survive in the wild. Separation of mother and cub is unforgivable for any reason. The poachers deprive a bear cub almost everything, their mother and their natural habitat.

Why the poacher brought me away from my mother? I miss her!

Why the poacher brought me away from my mother? I miss her!

Our bear care keepers spend their time with Noah and try to give Noah as much love as possible even though they know their love cannot compare with that given by his mother. So now, Noah likes to play fight with bear care keepers. He likes to take a challenge and never gives up. Bear care keepers are taking a huge responsible to take good care of him and teach him the skills that he could survive in the wild such as defense skill. Noah likes water very much. He likes to cool his body down by lying on the ground just like he is ‘swimming’ but on the ground.

This is where I stay and I like it so much!

This is where I stay and I like it so much!

What is this?

What is this?

Just one?

Just one?

No, here got more!

No, here got more!

Let me have a bite on it!

Let me have a bite on it!

I am trying hard here!

I am trying hard here!

I got it!!

I got it!!

I am feeling shy.

I am feeling shy.

In order to let Noah closer to the forest and more space for him to explore, in the morning he can go out to exercise pen. The exercise pen is near to the forest, so Noah can smell the forest. Within the exercise pen, there are different kinds of enrichment ready for him such as hammocks, dry leaves, decayed wood, fire hoses, honey combs and so on. Therefore, Noah likes to spend his time digging the decayed wood, playing with the tree leaves.

Let me show you, my playground!!

Let me show you, my playground!!

My second playground!

My second playground!

This is my new toy!

This is my new toy!

Let me show you how I play with my new toy! Just like this!!

Let me show you how I play with my new toy! Just like this!!

At last, we hope Noah has all the courage and left his unhappy early life behind here at the BSBCC. And, we really hope Noah will back to his real home, the forest – sooner or later.

11/16/16

Meeting Big Brothers and Sisters in the Bear House

Date: October 31st 2016

Text by Seng Yen Wah
Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah

Wawa is a 11 months old female bear. She was found alone in the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16, Pinangah, Telupid District on March 11st, 2016. She was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo after that. She arrived at BSBCC on March 18th, 2016. She appeared weak and showed signs of dehydration when she arrived.

Dodop is a one year old female bear. She came to the SBCC on June 2nd, 2016. The Sabah Wildlife Department rescued her from being kept as house pet in a Singgaron village in Ranau district. She had been found with missing all of her milk teeth. But now her permanent teeth have grown into strong and sharp canines.

Both of them have been growing well in quarantine. So, now is the time for them to meet their big brothers and sisters in bear house. They had to undergo a general health check by Dr. Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam, a veterinarian from Sabah Wildlife Department, Wildlife Rescue Unit first. Both of them had been proven healthy. Their new friends could not wait to meet them and gave their greatest welcoming bark to them.


Before a general health check for Dodop and Wawa, Dr.Pakee had to sedate them.

Bear keepers, Azzry and Thye Lim first moved Dodop from the quarantine to bear house and then it was Wawa’s turn.


Dr. Pakee taking blood samples.


Thye Lim and Azzry were assisting in the health checks for Dodop and Wawa.


Dodop’s chest mark


Wawa’s chest mark

Before Dodop and Wawa moved to bear house, bear keepers prepared lots of enrichment for them. They not only build a platform and a hammock to provide them a resting place, but they also went to collect dry leaves and decayed wood. This is because Wawa is a playful bear. She likes to spend her time with enrichment. So, bear keepers placed different kinds of enrichment items inside the cages to help them adapt to their new environment. For the first day, Wawa seems alert to the surroundings. But thanks to the enrichment, they had adapted well into the bear house after the second day. They spend their time exploring the environment and the enrichment together.


Within the cage, bear keepers put some dry leaves and ginger leaves for Dodop and Wawa.

In the other cage a high platform that provided Dodop and Wawa a resting place with edible leaves was placed.

In the other cage a high platform that provided Dodop and Wawa a resting place with edible leaves was placed.

Dodop curious and calm when she encountered her new environment.

Dodop curious and calm when she encountered her new environment.


Wawa first sight and first step in the new environment looking alert.

What should I do with this new place? – Wawa

What should I do with this new place? – Wawa


After few days, Dodop and Wawa adapted in their environment. They played fought inside the cage with each other.

Dodop was exploring the high platform with full curiosity.

Dodop was exploring the high platform with full curiosity.


Wawa was enjoying herself on the enrichment construction, that was composed by three tires.


Wawa was having lots of fun with the enrichment.

The next for them is to integrate with the biggest group, the sub adult group with Sunbearo, Loki, Bintang, Montom, Susie2, Damai, Kala, Boboi, Kitud, Tan Tan and Mary. They are around one to five years old. After the integration, they have to undergo fence training to be able to release them back to the forest. In the forest, they can learn from the others and improve their survival skills as well. At last, we hope they can be back to the wild sooner or later within the rehabilitation program at the BSBCC.

11/6/16

Jane Goodall and me: a 25 years of inspiration on my works to help sun bears




On October 29, 2016 I finally got to see Jane Goodall in person during her talk “Finding Life’s Passion” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I use the word “see” instead of “meet” because I do not have the chance to meet her in person but my excitement was truly off the chart and touched. Like other 2000 audiences who attended the talk, Jane Goodall is my wildlife hero. Unlike others, Jane Goodall was my wildlife hero for the past 25 years and her quote in Through   Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe: “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall they be saved.” has deeply inspired me and influenced me during the past 20 years of work with the sun bears. It was Jane who make me believe that we have to first understand sun bear, follow by care for the sun bear and help the sun bears, and eventually we can save the sun bears from extinction.

In this blog, I would like to share two personal statements that I wrote in 2002 and 2009. Both of these statements were written in Missoula, Montana, when I was a M. Sc student and a Ph. D. student respectively in University of Montana. These statements were required for me to apply the university’s scholarship. I hope you can also be inspired by Jane’s quote and working hard to understand, to care, to help, and to save the endangered wildlife on the Earth:




=========================================
SIEW TE WONG
“Only if we understand, can we care.
                  Only if we care, will we help.
                  Only if we help, shall they be saved.”
                                                                                  --- Jane Goodall           

Ever since I read this quote many years ago, I set up a goal for myself, a goal to understand, care, help, and save wildlife.

I recalled since I was a first grader, “animal expert” was what I wrote in the ambition column of my student personal record until the very last year in high school. My ambition remains unchanged, despite being sneered by classmates and teachers, because I love animals. Not surprisingly, my childhood was companioned by various pets, and later I became a successful pet breeder. Studying abroad in Taiwan was the turning point in my life. Although I was studying animal husbandry and veterinary, I had begun to appreciate wildlife more than domestic animals when I joined the Bird Watching Society. Unfortunately, through my binoculars, I saw not only beautiful birds, but also unlawful mist netting and killing of wild birds. I saw my first orangutan in Taiwan being displayed at a night market and my first gibbon being hugged by a motorist on a busy street.

Back home in Malaysia, the situation did not get any batter. Vast forests that were once home to magnificent wildlife and plants were cleared to make ways for plantations and developments. Many wildlife such as baby orangutans and gibbons were captured and sold to Taiwan as pets. People here care less about it because they are illiterate in conservation and environmental awareness.  The passion and commitment to help wildlife multiplied inside me as I witnessed what had happen around me. At the same time, I learned more about wildlife conservations through various wildlife projects I involved in Taiwan and Malaysia. Studying abroad again in University of Montana has put me on a right track and a good start. My graduate work on sun bear ecology in Malaysia has convinced me that a higher level of education and knowledge is needed, if I wish to improve conservation practices in Malaysia. 

Today, conservation in Taiwan improves significantly because of the efforts by growing numbers of conservationists and awareness from the public. In many Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Philippine, the tropical forests are disappearing rapidly along with its flora and fauna, to a point where too late to do anything. In contrast, Malaysia still has a chance for conservationists to save the last stronghold of Southeast Asian forests and wildlife due to the economical and political stability. We need distinguished biologists to train local students as conservationists, to educate public about conservation, and to study the flora and fauna to better understand its functions. This is where I come into place. I am/was trained as an “animal expert” or wildlife biologist for all these years, but I know that is not enough. This is the reason I wish to continue my education to a doctorate degree so that I can do a batter job in conservation for my country in the future.  Perhaps for Jane Goodall, the “they” in her quote referred to chimpanzees in Gombe, for me, it refers to the wildlife in Malaysia.


Jan 29, 2002
University of Montana
Missoula, Montana, USA


========================================

Siew Te Wong

Personal Statement


The first personal statement that I wrote many years ago started with a quote from Jane Goodall (1990) “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall they be saved.” This is one of the very important forces that keep me going and working hard to study, to conserve, and to save wildlife. Today, I am half way there.

May 16 this year will mark my 40th birthday. More than three quarter of my life I have been working closely with animals, starting from pets when I was a kid, follow by livestock during my early collage years, and wildlife for the past 17 years. I was considered as a rare individuals studying abroad in Taiwan and later in USA for my tertiary education majoring on a field that was not heard of by most Asian family-Wildlife Biology.

I stared my undergraduate degree in 1994 at University of Montana as a non-traditional student at the age of 25 with a diploma in veterinary and animal husbandry science and two years of experience working in the field on few wildlife research projects in Taiwan and Malaysia. My first year of study at UM I met my then future advisor and mentor Dr. Christopher Servheen, who was at that time looking for a Malaysian student to conduct the first study of sun bear in Malaysia. The meeting with Dr. Servheen has connected me with sun bear, the least know bear in the world and one of the most neglected large mammals in Southeast Asia. Over the last 10 years or more, my studies and works have been focusing on understanding, caring, helping and saving sun bears in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia where I am from. The path is very similar to what Jane Goodall did to the chimpanzee in Gombe in Africa, summarized perfectly with her quote above.

Dr. Servheen gave me a tusk to study the basic ecology of sun bear as my M.Sc project that took me spending two years in the rainforest of Borneo to complete the tusk. For the first time, the illusive life history of sun bear has been revealed. The study solved our queries on sun bear ecology and biology, but it also created more urgent questions of how they survive in a human modified landscape across Southeast Asia. I therefore decided to continue studying the effects of logging on sun bear as the main focus of my doctorate works under the supervision of Dr. Servheen in UM of the second time.

From years of continuously working with sun bears, I also understand and care more about the future and survival of sun bear. I learned there is very little conservation attention on this still poorly known bears but face tremendous threats. Many sun bears are kept as pets in captivity that live in the most disgusting condition you can ever imagine. They are poached across their distribution range for exotic meat, body parts and medicinal purposes. Their habitat, the tropical forests are disappearing fast to make way for human development and expansion oil palm plantations to meet the world demand for oil products. All of the problem and threats that sun bears face need urgent conservation and education actions. Therefore, I decide to do more to help and to save them by founded the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo last year. The center is one of the first of its kinds and will focus on the conservation, education, rehabilitation and research of sun bears.

Today, sun bear is better known than when I started my first sun bear project 10 years ago. My passion and persistency to understand, care, help, and save sun bears received recognition by awarded the Fly Elephant Foundation Fellowship. Other follows who received this award including Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, and Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. I was also appointed as the first co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team- IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group from 2002 to 2005. And, Malaysia government is allocating significant funds and show commitment to conserve sun bears for the first time.

This year is the last year for me as a student. Upon completion of my doctorate study, I will use the training, knowledge, and experiences I gained all these years as a wildlife biologist and conservationist to understand, to care, to help and to save sun bears and other wildlife in Malaysia and other part of Southeast Asia. Time is running out for many endangered species in this region that face tremendous threats. However, there is still hope for sun bear as long as we act now and act together.    
 

April 2009

Missoula, Montana, USA.

10/26/16

Meet Noah – There is still Hope !!

Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May



He was surrendered by a villager and was found roaming alone at a villager’s orchard with his mother nowhere to be seen. Noah was handed-over to the Sabah Wildlife Department from Nabawan, a southern part of Sabah, and brought into the BSBCC on the 10th of October, 2016. We have named him “Noah”. We are unsure as to why he was found alone, he may have been abandoned, or his mother may have been killed by poachers. Noah was nervous, alert and timid at first sight during the arrival.


“Really Miss my mother and forest so much!”

Noah, one of our newest orphan arrivals at BSBCC

Noah, one of our newest orphan arrivals at BSBCC

Three weeks after his rescue and this little Noah is grown into a healthy and strong bear

Three weeks after his rescue and this little Noah is grown into a healthy and strong

He is now settling into the quarantine

He is now settling into the quarantine

On the 10th of October 2016, Dr. Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam from the Wildlife Rescue Unit of Sabah Wildlife Department, performed a general health check. This included an assessment of his overall health, potential sickness, function of the internal organs and physical condition. During the health check, it was found that Noah’s four milk canines had been crushed off. Because of their small and cuddly appearance, sun bears are used in illegal pet trade. This is common with captive sun bears to prevent them from causing injuries and they are easy to handle. As a pet, he suffered from loneliness, rotting teeth, and malnutrition due to improper diet and care. Little Noah nearly lost everything – just because someone was greedy.




Noah is responding well to treatment. He has been receiving a proper diet and has a big appetite which has increased his body weight. He absolutely loves milk, banana, papaya and honey which ends up being a mouthful! Noah spends hours trying his best to get every drop of delicious honey out of the enrichment logs. As soon as he smells the food, he will quickly descend to find it. He will get involved in various types of enrichment to strengthen his muscles and senses. He is mischievous and prefers wrestles with his care taker. He continues to be as playful as ever!!


Noah has adjusted well to proper milk

Tastes fruit for first time!

Tastes fruit for first time!


” Yummy! I wonder is what this taste like?”

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Honey!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Free to Run, Play, Searching for Termites!

Little Noah begin to develop the skills he needs to survive in the wild

Little Noah begin to develop the skills he needs to survive in the wild

Noah require lots of different types of enrichment every day to keep him healthy and happy.

Noah require lots of different types of enrichment every day to keep him healthy and

Noah always enthusiastic about new enrichment

Noah always enthusiastic about new enrichment

Search for tasty treats in her very own Aussie Ball !!

Search for tasty treats in her very own Aussie Ball !!

Dig around for the Honey dew treats!!

Dig around for the Honey dew treats!!

Being curious with  pill millipede !!

Being curious with pill millipede !!

Rolling with Nest ball!

Rolling with Nest ball!

Love to see him just being bear again

Love to see him just being bear again

Chilling at the platform

Chilling at the platform

Chilling at the platform

Chilling at the platform

Snooze in a hammock in the sunshine !!

Snooze in a hammock in the sunshine !!

One of the BSBCC’s missions is to give rescued bears lifelong loving care. The bears are reintroduced to their natural habitat. A huge thanks to the Sabah Wildlife Department who rescued and bought Little Noah to BSBCC. We will provide the best care possible through the rehabilitation process, so someday he can return to the wild. After completing the quarantine phase, Noah will embark on his new life. Little Noah will follow a process of gradual adaptation in the forest till he becomes an independent wild bear, then he will get this unique chance to return to the forest home he was once stolen from. We will take all appropriate steps to ensure that Noah makes a smooth transition into life as a wild sun bear.

He grown into a playful and sweet natured Bornean Sun Bear

He grown into a playful and sweet natured Bornean Sun Bear

What a lovely smile it is...

What a lovely smile it is…

Showing us just glimpse of the sun bear tongue, happy to leave his past life behind

Showing us just glimpse of the sun bear tongue, happy to leave his past life be

Enjoying his new found freedom

Enjoying his new found freedom

We are confident that he will continue to practice the skills needed to survive as a wild sun bear in the future. Noah will spend his days learning new and vital skills in the forest canopy. We cannot wait for the day when Noah is roaming free back in the forest where he belongs.