11/21/08

Please visit my other blog: http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

Please make sure that you also visit my other wildlifedirect blog at http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/, which I update on a regular basic.

Thanks for visitinig this page.


http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

10/30/08

We need your helps to protect wildlife in Malaysia

Dear friends,
If you reading this blog, you are no doubt a bear lover, an animal lover, a naturalist, a biologist, a conservationist, or just a regular people who care about our nature, wildlife, and mother Earth. You cared, concerned, and I thank you for that.
Now I would like to ask you for a favor. I am not asking you to donate money this time, but I would like to ask you to sign a petition that will help improve our wildlife law in Malaysia. Please read more about this petition at the press release below and sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/MYLaw/petition.html.

Now I have my own stories to tell why this petition is important. I want to show you some photos and tell you the stories of many wildlife were killed and poached because our wildlife law need to be strengthen. By strengthening the law, we hope the awareness and enforcement of these law will be improved and benefit both wildlife and human. I apologize for showing photos but I think we all need to know that this kind brutal killing is happening in this country and it has to be stop by any mean. Although habitat destruction is by far the most important threat to the wildlife in Malaysia, poaching and illegal killing of wildlife can easily wipe out the small local population of the wildlife that are living in the fragmented landscape.


This sun bear carcass was found beside a hiking trail after being freshly slaughtered and only the gall bladder being removed by the poacher. According to the local guide, the poacher sold the gallbladder for about US$100. (Photo: Sue Chong)


This nursing female bear with a small cub was killed in an oil palm plantation. Sun bears that live adjacent to oil palm plantation frequently enter oil palm plantation to feed on oil palm seeds. Sun bears that entering these plantation were extremely vulnerable to poaching as many legal and illegal hunters hunt in the plantation for wild boars. These bears often become easy target for poachers as fewer cover available when they are at night in a plantation. Poachers are not hesitate to kill sun bears as flawed wildlife law and seriously lack of enforcement. (Photo: New Straits Times)





This freshly killed male bear was another victim of poachers that hunt for their meat, gall bladder, canine, claw, pelt, etc. (Photo: Robert Steubing)

Remmy, one of my former research assistant, found a dead Sunda clouded leopard at our study when he tracked one of our radio-collared sun bear. Poacher shot his large male clouded leopard that are so rare in close distant and discarded the body. Sometime poachers killed animals for no reason. Again, this incident shown that the wildlife law and enforcement needs to be strengthened, as well as education and conservation awareness needs to be promoted.


You have to see this to believe this. This female Bornean pygmy elephant were probably killed by “slow death”- infection that led to gangrene from the at least 13 bullet wounds I counted at her back site. Poachers simply shot this magnificent animal for no reason, or, for fun? I will never get it why in the world would people wanted to do this kind of killing! She was drop death by the road site in my study area. I wonder how many animals that were killed for no reason and poached for a reason were left unnoticed. I strongly believe that what we are seeing and hearing may represent a tip of an iceberg. There are many more animals being killed out there!
Snares are by far any wildlife and conservationists’ nightmare. Snares are easy to make and set, cheap, light to carry, and most importantly, they are effective! You will be amazed with how similar the mechanism of snares across different continents in the world and low long human have been using the same kind of design for snaring wildlife simply because they works. In order to increase the efficiency of these snares, most hunters or poachers would construct a simple fence on the forest floor for kilometers and left little “gap” or “opening” where the loop of the snares is set. When an animal traveling on the forest floor and come across the fence, they tend to follow the fence and funneled to the little gap and they try to across the fence through that little opening where poachers already set the deathly loop on the floor awaited for their kills. As you can imagine, these snares are set by hundreds as they are cheap and easy to carry into the forest interior. What make snares a true nightmare for everyone who care about wildlife is that they do not discriminate what species of wildlife can be their next victim. Willdife as small as a pheasants, mousedeer, pangolins, civets, muntjacts, wild boar, deer, bears, and all the way range to large mammals like rhinos and elephants are some of the common victims of snares.

These three photos are photos of a snared sun bear in my study area in Sabah. The bear managed to struggled and cut himself lose from the snare but suffered severe injuries: the heavy duty nylon fishing line cut through his arm, and he also suffered from a dislocated shoulder as a result of struggling to break free. The survival of this bear was probably very low. You can read more about this bear at: http://wongsiewte.blogspot.com/2008/03/plight-of-wild-sun-bears.html

A camera trap set along old logging road in my study area photographed this Bornean pygmy elephant. A closer look at the elephant trunk revealed this elephant was a victim of snares. His trunk has a snare that cut a big opening about half way of her trunk. Chances of survive for this unfortunate elephant is low with a trunk that has a hole on it. She probably cannot drink properly and take food by her trunk. (Photo: Andy Hearns and Joanna Ross)


It is always emotional when injuries involve a baby regardless of species. Here is a baby Bornean pygmy elephant fall victim to a snare at the river bank of Kinabatangan River, the longest river in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. The injured baby elephant with its mother. Dr. Senthilvel, Chief Vet from Sabah Wildlife Department said the baby elephant was unlikely to survive. “As the severity of the wound on this elephant is so serious, this poor baby elephant would very soon succumb to gangrene and die. The sad thing is that even an attempt to rescue it and bring it in for treatment would probably mean amputation of the limb and a life in captivity. It would be all too cruel to have it live on and suffer in captivity, with a handicap like that.”These photos were taken by Inada Nobuhiro, a Japanese wildlife guide and lecturer. To learn more, please visit http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1012-elephants.htmlSad
So, please click http://www.petitiononline.com/MYLaw/petition.html to send your petition in order to help us strengthen our wildlife law and help protect out wildlife. This is the first step. This is the must do step!

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JOINT PRESS RELEASE
28th September 2008
Malaysian Nature Society
TRAFFIC Southeast Asia
Wildlife Conservation Society
WWF-Malaysia
Better Law for Wildlife in Malaysia:
Petition to amend the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972
Petaling Jaya, Selangor (28th September 2008)-Today, the world celebrates International Tiger Day, a celebration of the tiger in its wilderness. While we celebrate its strength, beauty and perseverance, today also presents the ideal opportunity to mark our commitment to save the Malayan tiger
Currently, tigers and other wild animals in Peninsular Malaysia are protected by the Protection of Wild Life Act 1972. This 35-year-old law is severely outdated and riddled with loopholes. There is a serious need for the Malaysian government to remedy the loopholes and beef up the law, as many species continue to be poached and illegally traded at alarming rates. Wildlife offenders often escape arrest, prosecution and punishment. We understand that the government is in the process of revising this law. However, we urge the government to seek public input in this process. Examples of amendments needed;
i)That all products containing or claiming it contains parts of totally protected species to be made illegal;
ii) That mandatory jail sentences and stiffer fines are imposed for serious wildlife offences. Help us reach the target of 100,000 signatures for our Malayan tigers. Your voice to this petition will make a difference, for tigers and other wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia.
Sign this petition at http://00000138/www.petitiononline.com/MYLaw/petition.html
———————————————————————-
Dear Supporters, Colleagues, and Friends:
The lack of urgency has become a norm. I am asking you personally to take two small actions today towards creating a better world for the wildlife in Malaysia by signing the petition below. That’s the first step. http://www.petitiononline.com/MYLaw/petition.html
Once again, four prominent wildlife and nature NGOs* in Malaysia came together to call for better law for wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia. Please support these NGOs and forward the Press Release sent to you earlier today to your friends and colleagues who may or should support this cause- at least ten of them and ask them to do the same. That’s the second step. There were less than 100 signatures last week. The goal of 100,000 signatures seem impossible. Using our networks effectively is the only way. There are about 200 members on this list. If each one of them forward the PR to at least 10 people and these people forward to further 10 people, we can reach out to at least 20,000 people worldwide. Possibilities are endless. Some may put it up on a personal blog site or webpage for a greater impact. Others can raise the awareness over this issue and call for action by hosting a company lunch, school project, media campaign, public awareness event,etc. etc….even over a family dinner tonight! All depends on how much you care. The chain of actions starts with us today and our wildlife deserves our caring effort. Their situations are becoming desperate. PLEASE HELP.
Kae
* The NGOs behind this petition are: Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia , WCS Malaysia Programme, and WWF-Malaysia.

9/28/08

An Interview with sun bear expert Siew Te Wong: Habitat destruction, logging, wildlife trade drive sun bears toward extinction

An Interview with sun bear expert Siew Te Wong:
Habitat destruction, logging, wildlife trade drive sun bears toward extinction

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.comSeptember 25, 2008
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=DVXB,DVXB:2006-25,DVXB:en&pwst=1&q=wong+siew+te+mongabay&start=10&sa=N

Industrial logging, large-scale forest conversion for oil palm plantations, and the illegal wildlife trade have left sun bears the rarest species of bear on the planet. Recognizing their dire status, Siew Te Wong, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Montana, is working in Malaysia to save the species from extinction.

Known as “Sun Bear Man” in some circles, Siew Te Wong is setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. The project aims to save sun bears, which have largely overlooked by conservationists, through research, education, rehabilitation, and habitat conservation.

“The primary goal of the proposed BSBCC is to promote Malayan sun bear conservation in Sabah by creating the capacity to rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild, providing an improved long-term living environment for captive bears that cannot be released, and educating the public and raising awareness about this species,” he said in an interview with Mongabay.com. “[Sun bears] remain as one of the most neglected bear and large mammal species in Southeast Asia.”

Siew Te Wong’s efforts are partially supported by the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), an innovative group that uses a venture capital model to protect some of the world’s most endangered species. WCN will be hosting Siew Te Wong at its upcoming Wildlife Conservation Expo in San Francisco, California on October 4th. Expo attendees will be able to meet Siew Te Wong firsthand. The event, which is open to the public and costs $25-50 per person, also features 16 other conservationists working to protect wildlife around the world.


AN INTERVIEW WITH SIEW TE WONG

Mongabay: What is your project?
Siew Te Wong: I have been working on several projects on sun bears over the past 10 years or so. These included research projects on sun bears ecology, studying the impacts of logging on sun bears, looking at the effects of fruit production and climatic patterns on sun bears, surveying the status and distribution of sun bear in Malaysia, improving living condition and helping captive sun bears, and working on the conservation of sun bears. Currently, I am setting up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre or BSBCC, in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. This is a long-term project that focus on four aspects, i.e., education, rehabilitation, conservation, and research, on sun bears. The primary goal of the proposed BSBCC is to promote Malayan sun bear conservation in Sabah by creating the capacity to rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild, providing an improved long-term living environment for captive bears that cannot be released, and educating the public and raising awareness about this species. You can read more about the project at http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

Mongabay: Why did you choose to work on the sun bear?
Siew Te Wong:
Actually I did not choose to work on sun bear. The opportunity was given to me in 1994 when I first came to the US to pursue my undergraduate degree majoring in wildlife biology at University of Montana. Dr. Christopher Servheen, a renowned bear biologist from U of Montana, was looking for a student to study the least known bear in the world at that time - the sun bear in Malaysia. Equipped with experiences radio-tracking large mammals (I was working on radio-telemetry study of Formosan Reeve’s muntjac in Taiwan from 1992-1994) and strong interest to study wildlife, I took his offer and begun to prepare myself for the next three years to conduct the first ecological study of sun bear at the same time learn as much as possible on the conservation issues on wild and captive sun bears. In 1998, I started the 3-year field works to study the basic ecology of sun bears stationed at Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah, as my Masters of Science thesis project. The study not only revealed the elusive life history and ecology of sun bear in a tropical rainforest for the first time, but also exposed more questions and challenges of sun bear survival due to the human disturbances in sun bear habitat, namely logging and other conservation issues. Because these unknown questions need to be answered for sun bears and the many conservation issues that the bears faced, I decided to continue working on sun bear upon finishing my master degree. I studied the effects of logging on sun bears and bearded pigs as the topic of my doctorate dissertation as well as tropical rainforest productivity from 2005-2008 in Sabah. During the same period of time, I also started working on sun bear conservation issues since I considered them desperate issues. I did a lot of education work and helped some very unfortunate captive sun bears as much as I could. Although sun bear is now better known than it was 10 years ago, unfortunately they remain as one of the most neglected bear and large mammal species in Southeast Asia.
If I don’t help sun bear and work on them, nobody would!

Mongabay: How do you track sun bears? What have your learned about them?
Siew Te Wong:
To study this elusive sun bears in rainforest, I first have to trap them and then fit them with a VHS radio-collar. It sounds easy than actually doing it. In reality, it is very difficult to trap wild sun bears. During 6 years bear trapping in the field, I only managed to trap and to radio-collar 10 wild sun bears. Trapping bears is difficult and tracking them in the rainforest is even more challenging. I used triangulation method to locate them on a map remotely. After knowing their location on a map, I then ground-track them with a receiver, directional antenna, GPS unit, and try to get as close as possible, looking for feeding signs, scat, bedding sites, microhabitat and anything about bears that I could possibly find in the forest. From these data, I learned their basic ecology and biology like their diets and food habits, home-ranges sizes, movement and activity patterns, bedding and denning sites, arboreal behavior, and the limited and critical resources in the forest. I also documented a famine period that lasted a year in 1999-2000 where my radio-collared bears and many bearded pigs in the forest died and emaciated in the study area. The famine was caused by a prolong food shortage that related to the El-Niño Southern Oscillation/La-Nina Southern Oscillation, a fig (Ficus spp.) production failure, and logging that destroyed sun bear habitat and disrupted the migratory behavior of bearded pigs. I also learned that sun bears could live in selectively logged forest. However, there are few “critical” resources in the forest they must have in order to survive. Fruit trees like mature fig trees and oak trees that do not follow the mast fruiting cycle and fruit year round are very important and critical food resource for sun bears. I consider mature fig trees as “super key-stone species” for many wildlife in Bornean rainforest including bear, due the lack of other wild fruits in the forest during the non-fruiting period that can last for many years. The other non-food critical resources are tree cavities from fallen big trees on forest floor that either serve as day beds or den sites. Due to the high rainfall and generally wet climatic condition year round, dry and safe dens in these huge tree cavities on the forest floor are critical for female bears to successfully nurse and raise cubs.

Mongabay: What are the biggest threats to sun bears?
Siew Te Wong:
The biggest threat to sun bears is habitat destruction. Sun bears are “forest-dependent species” that will not survive without good and large forest. They need large contiguous forest to maintain healthy populations. Over the past few decades, many parts of Southeast Asia where sun bears are found underwent tremendous deforestation and transformation from the world demand for tropical hardwoods, development, and agriculture, especially large-scale monoculture plantations. The rapid disappearance of these forested land and suitable sun bear habitat is the major cause for the serious decline of wild sun bears to approximately 10,000 individuals! For comparison, the population of the endangered Bornean orangutans is about 41,000 animals on the island of Borneo. Beside habitat destruction, keeping sun bears as pets, poaching for its body parts for consumption, medicine (gall bladder), and souvenirs, are some other threats to the sun bears.

Mongabay: Is there any way to make industry more responsive to the plight of sun bears, for example protecting key habitat or making operations “greener”?
Siew Te Wong:
As I mentioned earlier, sun bears, like many kinds of wildlife, are forest-dependent species. For the forested areas that were destroyed and converted to other land uses, it is too late for us to do anything. We simply cannot “recreate” a tropical rainforest that is the same as the original forest. Our efforts to save sun bears should prioritize the full protection of existing forest from deforestation and any kind of disturbance. Different countries in SE Asia have unique problems in land use and forest conservation issues. Here I’ll look at how the timber and palm oil industries in Malaysia and Indonesia can help the plight of sun bears. Sun bear can live well in “good” selectively logged forest. I am emphasizing “good” because selective logging has been transformed from a relatively low impact logging practice (only few commercial valuable timber stands were removed from the forest) in the past, to a highly destructive, nearly clear-cut type of practice now-a-days due to the world demand for timber products and wood processing technology that turns the “poor quality” timber into something useful. Although generally speaking the regeneration in tropical rainforest is fast due to optimum climatic condition for plant growth, forest trees are extremely difficult to recruit in this kind of “trashed” forest after undergrowth vegetation like creepers, vines, rattans, wild gingers, tall grass, etc., carpet the forest floor and remain there for decades. Thus, in order to have a win-win situation for both human hunger for timber products and bears that need their habitat, governments have to apply strict logging regulations to force timber producers to follow low impact logging guidelines. At present, if total protection of sun bear habitat is not an option and we have to harvest timber in sun bear habitat, timber certification programs from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management is the way to help reduce degradation of sun bear habitat. In addition, delineating key forest patches as refugia from disturbance within large logging concessions can be an important way to mitigate the impacts of logging disturbance.

A small number of sun bear feed on oil palm fruit in plantations adjacent to forests that still sustain bears. However, the extra feeding opportunity in plantation does not benefit sun bears since it increases their vulnerability to poaching. Due to the scale of transformation of lowland tropical rainforest into oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia – probably history’s most massive conversion over such a short period of time – sun bears have lost a tremendous area of habitat and there is no argument that palm oil industry directly impacts the survival of sun bear. I urge for no further conversion of tropical rainforest into oil palm plantation. Although the industry could take more responsible and environmental orientated measures to “relatively” mitigate their impacts (such as the implementation of “eco-friendly” palm oil production practices and joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that may or maybe not help wildlife), I strongly believe that the damage cause by replacing sun bear habitat to monoculture plantation is irreversible. The other measure that the oil palm industry could do to help sun bear is to work with local wildlife authorities and plantation workers to reduce any human related mortality of sun bear to a minimum.

Mongabay: What is being done to reduce consumption of bear parts in Malaysia or is the market mostly China?
Siew Te Wong:
Sun bear is a protected species in Malaysia. Any killing, eating and using bear parts is totally prohibited by law. There are three different laws protecting sun bear and other protected species in Malaysia: Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 in Peninsular Malaysia, Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 in Sabah and Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 in Sarawak. At the international front, Malaysia is a signatory of Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) and a member of Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network (Asean-WEN). Thus, the law that available to protect this species is sufficient. However, the problem of sun bears being killed for all kind of purposes results from lack of enforcement on the ground. In addition, there is also a lack of educational outreach to educate people in the country that it is a felony to kill and to consume bears parts. Unlike the tiger where there are several conservation and education programs in Malaysia to reduce the consumption of tiger products, very little being done to reduce consumption of bear parts apart from the wildlife protection laws, which I’ve already said are poorly enforced. The market for bear parts from Malaysia limited to China, it also includes local demand by the Chinese community and indigenous communities in Sarawak.

Mongabay: What are other ways to help sun bears?
Siew Te Wong:
The first thing we need to understand is the fact that the sun bear is an endangered species. The number of sun bear in the wild throughout the world is much more fewer than many endangered species, like the Bornean orangutan. Many these endangered species benefit from the many NGOs, biologists, conservationists, and governments working to help them. This collaboration can be an effective way to protect threatened species as we can see with many endangered species in Asia such as tigers, rhinos, elephants, orangutans, panda, and many others. Unfortunately, none of this has happened for sun bear. Thus the first way to help sun bear is to adopt the models in use for other endangered species. We need a big team of biologists, conservationists, and NGOs as well as the full support from the public and the local government to tackle the threats and conservation issues of the sun bear. The sun bear conservation efforts are clearly far behind many endangered species. What I’ve been doing for the past many years is studying this species to understand it as much as possible. It is now time for us to move on to the next level: the conservation stage, where we work hard to conserve the species with the knowledge and resources we have in hand. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center will be the very first initiative and a big step toward helping sun bears in Malaysia. We hope to establish this center as a model and catalyze other countries in Southeast Asia to help conserve sun bears. At the same time, we obviously need funds to operate the various activities to be carried out by the center: educational outreach and lobbying for the protection of more sun bear habitat. We need everyone to get involved, from the local communities who live close to bear habitat to the top politicians who can provide financial, institutional, and policy support for the sun bear.

http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/

9/19/08

Rainforest conversion to oil palm causes 83% of wildlife to disappear

Re-posted from http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0915-palm_oil.html
Rainforest conversion to oil palm causes 83% of wildlife to disappear
mongabay.com September 15, 2008

Conversion of primary rainforest to an oil palm plantation results in a loss of more than 80 percent of species, reports a new comprehensive review of the impacts of growing palm oil production. The research is published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

"By compiling scientific studies of birds, bats, ants and other species, we were able to show that on average, fewer than one-sixth of the species recorded in primary forest were found in oil palm," said led author Emily Fitzherbert from the Zoological Society of London and University of East Anglia. "Degraded forest, and even alternative crops such as rubber and cocoa, supported higher numbers of species than oil palm plantations."

The results confirm that oil palm plantations are a poor substitute for natural forests when it comes to conservation of biological diversity.

The study warns that burgeoning demand for palm oil for use in foods, household products, and biodiesel will continue to fuel expansion in the tropics. Because planters can subsidize operations by the initial logging for forest plots, it seems likely that forests will continue to fall for new plantations despite the availability of large tracts of degraded and abandoned land.

"There is enough non-forested land suitable for plantation development to allow large increases in production without large impacts on tropical forests, but as a result of political inertia, competing priorities and lack of capacity and understanding, not to mention high levels of demand for timber and palm oil from wealthy consumers, it is still often cheaper and easier to clear forests. Unless these conditions change quickly, the impacts of oil palm expansion on biodiversity will be substantial," the authors conclude. CITATION: Emily B. Fitzherbert, Matthew J. Struebig, Alexandra More, Finn Danielsen, Carsten A. Brühl, Paul F. Donald, Ben Phalan. How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 23, Issue 10, October 2008, Pages 538-545

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Wong's notes:
In the mean time, the issue remains controversial. Make sure you also read the following links:

http://www.palmoiltruthfoundation.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=961&Itemid=896

http://comments.mongabay.com/pages/news.mongabay.com/2008/0501-palm_oil.html?approved=yes

Tired of reading? How about a vidoe clip or two?

Be sure not to miss the hummingbirds and iguana. The Malaysian Palm Oil industry should publish a paper on these discoveries in Asia!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zZIoqeuJf4

Here's a longer version with more controversial statements:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZaFGTeRvho

9/17/08

How do sun bears sleep in the wild?

Like all of us and all animals, sun bears need sleep (What am I talking about? Of course sun bear need sleep!). But, not many people have seen how wild sun bear sleep in the tropical forest. I bet this posting will be an interesting and eye opening for many of you who see this for the first time!
Tree nestSun bears in the wild make nest on tree and sleep on these tree nest like orangutans. However, nest building behavior is more common in forest where human disturbance is higher and large terrestrial predators like tigers, and leopards are presence. It makes sense for sun bears to make such tree nest and sleep on high on tree, some as high as 40 meters (128 feet) because it is much safer and dryer on top of tree. These nests usually consist of a pile of tree branches and twigs that are band over from the surrounding centered at a tree fork that close to the main trunk. The diameter of these tree nests ranges from a 1 to 2 meter. Unlike orangutan nest, sun bear rarely snap branches or break branches close by. I still lack of evident that they reuse these tree nests, and believe that they construct new nest every time then need one because wild sun bears tend to wonder a large range, unless there are important food resources available like a fruiting fig tree in the forest. Under this situation, sun bears tend to hang around the area until the food resource is depleted and they have to move on to forage for food. Although the metal baskets that we provide for our captive bears are very different from the natural nest, these bears still love them because these baskets give them a dry, safe, and cozy bed.

This bear nest was about 35 m (110 feet) above the ground. If this bear (Batik) was not wearing a radio-collar and I was not constantly tracking her closely in the forest, there was no way that I can figure out that Batik the sun bear was sleeping 100 feet above of me. It took me some time to locate the nest and the saw Batik with my binocular that day due to the dense vegetation and the height of the nest.

I used my Canon S1IS to zoom in to the nest (12 X) and took this photo. Because of the think vegetation and the nesting material, we can barely see Batik’s muzzle and a hind paw hanging mid air.

After waiting patiently for about 3 hours under the tree, Batik finally woke up from her nap and slowly climbed down from the tree. It was really amazing to see how agile a sun bear could be when she climbed down carefully but swiftly from the tree! The dark spot on top of her was the nest she was sleeping ealier.

Another photo of Batik taking her nap. This time she did not construct a proper nest. In stead, she simply slept on branches that could support her body on top of a medium sized tree about 15 m above the ground. Sweet dream!

6/14/08

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation with Wildlife Direct Blog


Sorry for the long silent and have not posted anything for some time.
Beside laziness, I have been putting a lot of time to set up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Is much more easy saying than doing it on the ground.
Anyway, as one of the effort to fund raise and spread the words and spread conservation awareness, Wildlife Direct http://wildlifedirect.org/ is very generous to host Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Blog (http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org/).
In this blog, I will post most the stories and latest development of BSBCC. And for this blog, I will post other wildlife related news, and other stuff I think is interesting for the readers. Please do check both blogs for news on sun bears and our works.
Happy blogging!

4/26/08

Rare bear spotted in Bintulu

The Star Online > Nation Friday April 25, 2008
By JACK WONG

KUCHING: Two brown Malayan sun bears caught on a remote camera in a planted forest zone in Bintulu Division are believed to be the first such discovery in Malaysia and Borneo.
Sun bears found in Malaysia and Borneo were black in colour, said Grand Perfect Sdn Bhd conservation department’s project officer Belden Giman.
“This first recording of brown sun bears in Malaysia and Borneo is very interesting. The two sun bears are not yet adults,” he told The Star yesterday.
Grand Perfect is the contractor for Sarawak Planted Forest Sdn Bhd, which is in charge of the 500,000ha Bintulu planted forest Zone project.


Rare bear: One of two brown Malayan sun bears caught on film as the rare creature trips a remotely operated camera in a planted forest in Bintulu. — Picture courtesy of Grand Perfect

Beldem and colleagues, Tony Chaong and Nyegang Megom, gave a joint presentation on “Remote camera survey: An essential tool for wildlife monitoring in the planted forest zone” at an international conference in Kuching Hilton that began on Wednesday.
Some 200 participants are attending the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Asia-Pacific chapter’s three-day conference on the theme “Towards sustainable land use in Tropical Asia.”
Belden said the dramatic photos of the brown sun bears were caught on the remote camera in the plantation area last July. The protected sun bears are the smallest in the bear family.
The remote camera survey (2005 – 2007) also revealed 25 other species of large and medium-sized mammals.
He said since early 2005, a series of camera-trapping inventories had been done in and around the acacia mangium plantation to document the diversity, occurrence and richness of terrestrial fauna.
“Some 20 study areas, including two main conservation areas and the wildlife corridor, were selected.
“Each block (1km sq) will be sampled, at least with two cameras for 30 days in about three years,” he added.
Belden said a five-year sampling period until Aug 2012 was now underway.
The long-term monitoring model was adopted in collaboration with US-based Smithsonian Institution – Conservation Centre.
He said the data and subsequent information from the study would contribute to the understanding of the dynamic population of mammals in the planted forest zone and in Sarawak and Borneo.
Belden said the project also involved the local community in its training and awareness programmes.

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The following is my comment on this “rare brown sun bear”:

I do not think this is a rare “brown” sun bear. In stead, it is a “normal” black sun bear that we are familiar with. The “brown” color of the pelage may resulted either from:
1) The bear was rolling on red soil prior to the photo was taken. Sun bear sometime rolls on the ground to have a “dirt bath”. When the weather and ground is dry, this red dirt tends to adhere to the pelage for some time. These are a series of photos of Bear 102 or "Infapro" doing his "dirt bath" rollong on the ground. (Photo: Siew Te Wong)




Sun bear often dig to find underground termite and stingless bee nests. When they dig, they also tend to make a mess out of themselves. This is Bear 112 or Lai Xiung. (Photo: Siew Te Wong)

2) Reflection from the flesh that distorted the original color of the pelage. This happen quite commonly for camera trapping, when the flesh of the camera is too strong or too weak, especially when using the filmed cameras.

However, there are “brown” or yellow color sun bears. Here are some examples:

1) Like human, sun bear grow white, pale, or most of the tine yellow hairs when they get old. This is “Garang”- the sun bear in Singapore Zoo. She is 31 year old this year, probably the oldest sun bear ever recorded in captivity. (Photo: Siew Te Wong)
This very rare looking yellow faced sun bear is from Kun Ming Zoo, China. (Photo: Siew Te Wong)
2) Yellow or light pelage sun bear cub resulted from malnutrition and imbalance diet.

4/24/08

Forestry Dept refutes claims

Thursday April 24, 2008
The Star


PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak Forestry Department has refuted accusations that weak enforcement allowed wild animals to be captured and caged for display.
“The department has always placed high emphasis on its credibility,” said department director Datuk Len Talif Salleh in a press statement.
“We would like to reiterate that the department does not practise favouritism or double standards in executing our enforcement activities,” he said in the statement issued through the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry
He was responding to recent reports in The Star about unattended complaints over a sun bear that died after it was kept in a tiny cage for six months for display to tourists at a private farm along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway in Sarawak.
The report said that the department failed to attend to a public complaint by a foreigner last year about the matter months before the sun bear died.
Len Talif stressed that enforcement officers were well trained to handle matters in all circumstances but assured the public that the allegation was being investigated.
If disciplinary rules were breached, stern action would be taken against any officer for a lackadaisical attitude in executing enforcement duties, he said.
He also pointed out that Traffic, an international wildlife trade monitoring network, had commended Sarawak's effective curbing of the wildlife trade in its 2007 report.
Referring to the sun bear incident, Len Talif said Sarawak Forestry Corporation enforcement officials were sent to the location to investigate on April 14.
He said the owner of the farm did not appear until late afternoon after attempts to contact him were made and that the team confiscated the wildlife without the presence of the owner according to section 49 of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
“The police report was made at Miri Central police station in the late afternoon and further investigation continued the following day.”
Len Talif said the department had introuced a 24-hour hotline – 019-8897222 or 082-302606 – for quick complaints.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/4/24/nation/21033889&sec=nation

HOPE AT LAST FOR SABAH’S SUN BEARS...

Time is running out for the world’s smallest bear, the little known Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus). Originally widespread through southeast Asia, Borneo is now one of the few remaining strongholds of this charismatic jungle-dependent mammal.

But its home is fast diminishing; habitat loss and degradation is pushing this bear to the brink, with only about 10,000 animals remaining. Sun Bears are also illegally hunted for food and medicines, shot to prevent damage to crops and villages and poached to capture small cubs for the pet trade.
If these trends continue, Sun Bears just won’t make it!

Rehabilitation in action
However, in Sabah, an East Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, an innovative project is taking shape which aims to provide a holistic approach to Sun Bear conservation, combining improved facilities for captive bears with increased public awareness both locally and internationally and, perhaps most importantly, release back into the forest of individuals which can be rehabilitated or are still ‘wild’.

Under the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Program, developed jointly with Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, a Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) will be established at Sepilok, home of the world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, near Sandakan. Here, Sun Bears which have been rescued from captivity (usually expets, orphans or victims of human-bear conflicts) will be housed and cared for in natural enclosures before being released, where ever possible, back into the wild.
No such facility currently exists and with increasing numbers of Sun Bears being confiscated or held in captivity it is imperative to provide better welfare, greater awareness of this flagship species and, ultimately, a chance for a life back in the forest.

How you can help
The BSBCC is seeking funding of US$669,256 (RM2,108,153) for construction costs and Years One and Two of operations. This will encompass the building of a specially designed bear house with a capacity of 36 bears and the fencing of eight spacious natural forest enclosures, an office cum visitor centre and quarantine area and construction of a boardwalk and observation
platform, plus staffing, bear food and veterinary costs.

Sun Bears need all the help they can get . Your support in funding the establishment and operations of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre will go a long way to ensuring a more humane, secure and longterm future for this precious animal.
For a copy of a full proposal, please contact cynthia@leapspiral.org or wongsiew@hotmail.com

4/22/08

'Ban people from keeping wildlife as pets'

The Star
April 20, 2008


MIRI: The Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) division in Penang has called for a blanket ban on the keeping of wildlife as pets and wants the Government to make sure that no permit would be issued to anybody to keep such animals.
SAM president S.M. Mohd Idris said the recent death of a sun bear at a private farm in Miri after prolonged abused, was a classic example of the horrible and long-lasting sufferings these animals may have to endure.
Not only is keeping these wild animals in confinement cruel, the practice is also resulting in an irreversible decline in their populations, he said.
"SAM feels very troubled with how easily wild and endangered animals are being captured and used as showpiece in the homes of certain people.
"This is a growing problem. SAM is totally opposed to keeping these wild animals as pets. No permit must be issued at all to anybody to keep these animals in their homes.
"The Wildlife Protection Rules 1998 provides no protection at all for wild animals that are captured from the wild and kept as pets.
"This law does not regulate the ownership of these animals and does not provide any safeguard for their welfare once they are placed under captivity. That is why these animals must not be allowed to be captured (and taken) from the wild," he said.
Last Thursday, the Sarawak Forestry raided a private farm and rescued a variety of monkeys following the recent death of at least one sun bear there.
The cruelty at the farm was exposed by South African expatriate Tweet Gainsborough last August, but for six months, no effort was taken by any enforcement authority to rescue it.

http://thestar. com.my/news/ story.asp? file=/2008/ 4/20/nation/ 20080420115302&sec=nation

4/14/08

Tycoons buying endangered animals as 'status symbols'

Sunday April 13, 2008
By STEPHEN THEN
stephenthen@thestar.com.my

MIRI: Powerful towkays in Sarawak cities are paying good money to native trappers to capture endangered animals to put on display in their homes as “status symbols.”
Their demand has resulted in an increasingly active black market in exotic wildlife in certain parts of Sarawak, according to information received by environmental-conservation and native rights group Borneo Resources Institute.


Rare animals like the sun bear (above), certain species of monkeys (below, right), rare birds and rare reptiles are being hunted to be sold to towkays who keep them in cages and show them off as ‘status symbols’, say environment groups in Sarawak.


Its Sarawak coordinator Raymond Abin told The Star that middlemen pay trappers well to hunt and capture the wild endangered animals alive and unhurt to be sold at high prices to rich men in towns who wish to display the animals in cages and chains.
This new trend only worsens the plight of wild animals already on the protected and endangered list after being hunted for their meat, especially those believed to have medicinal properties, he said.
Among the most sought after exotic animals for display are endangered mammals such as bears, rare monkeys, rare birds and even rare reptiles.
Abin was commenting on The Star’s reports about a sun bear that died after it was kept in a tiny cage for more than six months for display to tourists at a private farm along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway recently.
A private farm was said to have a variety of animals including sun bears, macaques and gibbons.

He said the Sarawak Wildlife Department and Sarawak Forestry must find out how the farm owner got the sun bear.
“Unless the link is uncovered and severed by the authorities, this wildlife trade will not stop.
Miri Wildlife Department enforcement chief Abang Arabi Abang Imran said investigations failed to uncover the sun bear’s remains as farm workers refused to disclose what happened.
Sources said yesterday the farm belonged to an influential property developer and the wildlife department officers were afraid to interrogate him.

4/12/08

Proof missing at Miri farm

The Star
April 12, 2008
Proof missing at Miri farm
By STEPHEN THEN


MIRI: The private farm in Miri, where a sun bear died after prolonged incarceration in a small cage, appears to have destroyed all evidence that it had illegally kept endangered animals.
It is also learnt that the huge farm at Jalan Bakam along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway had more than one sun bear, and many monkeys, gibbons and wild goats.
But when enforcement officers from the Sarawak Asset Protection Unit (Sapu) went to the farm yesterday, they found they were six months too late in acting on the many complaints filed by expatriates against cruelty to the sun bear.
These complaints, filed since August, had been forwarded in oral and written form to the Miri Wildlife Department, Sarawak Forestry and the Miri City Council.
The officers saw some torn-down shacks that could have housed some of these animals but no trace of the bears were found in the 162ha farm that encompassed forests and a hill.
Sapu enforcement chief for Miri Division, Rudolf Gerang, admitted that yesterday’s operation drew a complete blank.
“The place is huge. We had a look around but cannot find any animal. The workers said they do not know anything. We are now trying to find out who is directly in charge of this place,” he said.
Sapu is a unit under the direct supervision of Sarawak Forestry. So is the Wildlife Department.
He had no satisfactory answer as to why the sun bear had not been rescued, except to say that investigations have been re-opened.
While these enforcement officers scratch their heads, The Star received new e-mails yesterday from visitors to the farm who said they saw at least two caged sun bears and that both were now gone.
Another visitor said he was disturbed to find endangered creatures kept in tiny cages in a farm with so much forest and land.
“It was sheer cruelty,” he said.
Readers have also expressed disgust and vowed to never visit the farm again.

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/4/12/nation/20930404&sec=nation

Officers raid sunbear farm, come up empty

The Star
Friday April 11, 2008
Officers raid sunbear farm, come up empty
By STEPHEN THEN


MIRI: Enforcement officers from the Sarawak Asset Protection Unit (SAPU) on Friday raided the private farm here where a sunbear had died after prolonged abuse inside a small iron-cage.
It is also learnt that this farm had more than one sunbear, and it also had many monkeys, gibbons and wild goats.
A team of SAPU enforcement staffs on Friday morning entered the farm, located at Jalan Bakam along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway next to the National Service Training Camp, and ended up red-faced.
They tried to enter the farm at about 10am and found the workers there giving them the run-around.
"Tidak tahu. Tak ada bear lagi (Don't know. No more bears)," were the answers these enforcement staffs obtained from workers at the farm.
The officers found some torn-down shacks believed to have been used to house some of these animals.
They could find no trace of the bears. The entire farm measures a huge 400 acres in size from one end to the other, encompassing forests and a hill.
SAPU enforcement chief for Miri Division, Rudolf Gerang, on Friday admitted that the operation drew a complete blank.
"The place is huge. We had a look around but we could not find any animals. The workers said they do not know anything. We are now trying to find out who is directly in charge of this place," he said.
SAPU and the Wildlife Department are units under the direct supervision of the Sarawak Forestry.
Asked why SAPU and the Wildlife Department did not act on the complaints lodged last August by South African expatriate Tweet Gainsborough, Gerang could not give any satisfactory explanation.
"I have checked the files and it is confirmed that the South African had furnished us her complaints plus photos of the sunbear being confined in the small cage since last year.
"I checked with the Wildlife Department and they confirmed that the sunbear was still alive inside the cage last year after the complaints were received.
"We (SAPU) have reopened this file for further investigation," he stressed.

4/10/08

Outrage over dead bear

The Star
Thursday April 10, 2008


MIRI: Animal lovers have criticised the State Wildlife Department and local authorities for failing to rescue an abused sun bear which died at a private farm here.
The Star was besieged with calls and e-mail from concerned residents, angered by the death of the endangered mammal at the farm located along the Miri-Bintulu second coastal highway.
The sun bear died after being held in a small cage for more than six months.
A reader, Fiona Suleiman, expressed sadness that such cruelty continued to exist despite calls for tougher laws to deter animal abuse.
An expatriate warned that such abuse would lead to negative consequences for the tourism industry.

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

4/9/08

Caged sunbear dies


The Star
Tuesday April 8, 2008
Caged sunbear dies
By STEPHEN THEN


MIRI: An endangered sunbear locked up for months inside a small iron cage, and used as a showpiece to attract visitors at a private farm along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway, has died from neglect.
The sunbear, a protected species, died after its owner had hidden it inside an isolated forest away from public view following complaints from a group of expatriates who were disgusted with the manner the creature was treated.
A worker of the farm, located at Jalan Bakam, next to the National Service Training Camp, confirmed Tuesday that the sunbear recently died.
"The sunbear was taken to an isolated area and was continuously kept inside the cage. It was placed near a forested section of the farm. It died recently inside the cage," said a worker who spoke on condition that his identity was not disclosed.
Miri Wildlife Department enforcement chief Abang Arabi Abang Imran, when asked to comment Tuesday, also confirmed that he had sent his enforcement officers to the site and found that the sunbear was missing and that the owners could not give any satisfactory explanation on what had happened to the animal.
"We will find out what happened to the sunbear. We have been investigating this case for a long time following complaints lodged by foreigners who had visited the farm," he said.
The Star on August 11 last year, highlighted this case after being approached by South African expatriate Tweet Gainsborough whose husband was working for an oil and gas giant here in Miri.
Arabi, when asked Tuesday why it took six months for his department to investigate this case, said, "I had instructed my enforcement people to handle the case immediately after I received the complaints. I must open the case file and find out what had transpired and why the bear was not rescued," he said.
Arabi confirmed that the sunbear is a protected species, and that the private farm did not have any permit to keep the animal.



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


http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/8/11/nation/18565167&sec=nation
Saturday August 11, 2007


Unbearable sight to behold
By STEPHEN THEN

MIRI: The sight of a sun bear desperately biting on the iron bars of a very small cage at a private farm here has enraged animal lovers, expatriates and foreign tourists.
The sun bear, an endangered and protected species, is being kept in deplorable conditions at the farm.
The animal is kept in a cage measuring only about 1.5m square. The holes of the cage are just big enough for the bear to put its mouth through.
However, the holes keep trapping the bear’s feet whenever it tries to move about. The cage is so small that the bear is only able only walk a few steps before it has to turn.
South African expatriate Tweet Gainsbo-rough, whose husband works in the oil industry here, said she and fellow expatriates were shocked to see the cruelty inflicted on this rare animal during her visit to the place recently.

Seeking freedom: The sun bear biting on the bars of the cage it is being kept in at the farm near Miri.
She wondered how the authorities could allow such a protected animal to be kept in such a miserable condition.
“We visited the farm recently with the hope of enjoying some of the local countryside but, to our horror, we found animals being kept in horrible conditions.
“This sun bear was locked up in such a small enclosure and displayed just outside the canteen for everybody to see.
“There is not enough room for it to even move about in comfort. When we saw the bear, it was desperately trying to get out. It was biting on the iron bars of the cage.
“I took a photo of it as evidence (as shown in picture) and asked the people managing the farm why they kept the bear in such a state. They merely kept silent.
“I asked how long the bear had been kept like that and they also kept quiet.
She has since written appeals to the Wildlife Department, Miri City Council and the farm, appealing to the keepers to be more merciful to the sun bear.
A check by The Star found that the farm had “special permission” from the local authorities here to keep the bear in order to attract visitors.
The owners were not available for comment.
Miri Wildlife enforcement officer Abang Arabi Abang Imran said they had received Gainsborough’s written complaints.










4/7/08

黄修德与马来熊共舞

南洋商报
新视野
2008/01/14报道:佘美翠


深山老林藏着神秘,像海一样深奥,也由于我们知道的太少

来自槟城大山脚38岁的科学家黄修德,与台湾籍太太和两个女儿分隔两地,他走入葱绿茂盛的林中做研究,实践了他年幼时的愿望。 从小特别钟爱动物的他,上小学之前就跟着爸爸养果子狸和小鸟。中学时期,他自己帮宠物繁殖,爱情鸟、金鱼、狗啊等等,还将产物宝宝卖掉赚些小钱。 “自小学一年级开始,每年填写志愿表格,规定的两个必填选择,我都写下动物专家和兽医。”

研究马来熊,他是从零开始。而在1998至2000年期间,他在沙巴达浓谷森林进行的马来熊的研究工作中,间接认识了胡须猪,也将之纳入其研究版图。 “那时森林里闹饥荒。热带雨林一般上予人很丰蕴的印象,可是婆罗洲森林的实情并非如此。”他说,这两物种生态相似,属于杂食兽,吃很多野果和昆虫。 “马来熊和胡须猪饿肚子的原因之一,是榕树不结果,因为榕果小蜂(Fig Wasp)大量死亡。” 我听他解说,“果树分有花及隐花两种,开花的,雄花产生花粉,借由风吹将花粉散播到雌蕊的柱头上受精,开花结果。”

自然界会互利共生

他续说,同样的,榕果小蜂是花粉传递者之一。隐花果的花托上有小孔,让小蜂钻入授粉。榕果提供小蜂孵育的场所和食物,这是自然界互利共生的现象之一。 1997年至1998年圣婴现象(又称厄尔尼诺现象)来袭,造成整个森林旱热,发生大规模的森林大火,很多榕果小蜂都死亡了。基于许多小蜂死亡,榕果长了果,榕果小蜂却没来授粉,它们就不需要继续成长,因为发展结成果所需要的糖分、碳水矿合物、纤维等,对果树是一种负担,因此,榕果循大自然的奥妙“流产”。 他的研究范围包括两物种的生态环境与习性,吃什么,做什么、活动范围、食物来源、食物量、野果量、昆虫量等. 黄修德同时做比较研究,即择伐活动对两者的影响。他的研究样本林是150平方公里,原始林占40%,60%为伐木森林,两个林种中皆发现马来熊和胡须猪。

动物与森林,是共存还是依赖?

黄修德说,两者都有。 “森林所有的物种(动物、昆虫、植物甚至霉菌)都有它们在整个森林生态中扮演的角色,缺一不可。动植物之间息息相关,树和植物为雨林中的成千上万种生物提供食物和庇护所。植物需靠动物,比如许多果树的结果,是由动物来传播种子。” 研究显示,种子传播离开母树越远,生长几率会越高。若种子落在母树下,便得与母树和其它种子竞争资源,远离母树,就等于远离那些对母树有害的动物或病菌。 这时候动物就是传播者了,果实里甜甜的部分是一种“奖励品”,吸引动物把它吃掉(大自然真奥妙,它还会行贿呢!),吞进肚子,动物之后走动到其他范围,通过粪便把果实种子给排出来,种子落地生根。还有很多植物的种子须经动物肠子的消化,有特别的膜包着,才能发芽。 “比如马来熊,它吃很多野果,活动范围分布也广,可达15平方公里。我的资料显示它们一天可以走5公里路,狼吞虎咽,果子没什么咀嚼就吃下,经过消化排了出来,这是在4至6个小时后,它们可能已走了两公里了。如果嚼烂了就是一种破坏。 “熊是很好的种子播迁者。野生榴种子很大,它能整个吞下,走到很远,种子随大便时排出。大便有丰富养分,对种子的发育有很大的帮助。” 奥妙吧?个中自有安排和演化的过程。

当然,部分动物同时也化身种子掠夺者,像胡须猪,是破坏种子的元凶之一,不过它也有一定的有用生态角色。 “猪大部分是扮演‘生态工程师’,几乎所有野果它都吃,它会找蚯蚓、根茎类,薯类,用硬硬的鼻子拱挖泥土,这翻泥松土的过程,它把肥沃度和氧气都翻转过来。它本身也提供食物来源给生物链中位居更上层的动物,例如大蟒蛇。 “熊也一样。它们吃白蚁和蜂蜜的时候,会把白蚁巢或蜂巢破坏,或弄碎枯木,这些活动都助长整个森林的分解和重建。

从事野外研究多年,有何感想或启示?
从事野外研究多年,可带给黄修德任何的感想或启示吗?

“人类对雨林的知识太少了,热带雨林的功能还有很多是我们未知的。 “整个婆罗洲森林生态是很脆弱的生态系统,因为每一种生物之间的关系非常密切,而当有某一种生物生态被破坏,它不只影响该物种,而会是波纹似的牵连效应。好像榕树,有上百种甚至上千种的生物都依靠它。如果榕树数量少了,这些相关物种生存就受波及。在我们这座演化史上最古老的森林中,物种多,彼此关系密切,我们认为的小破坏,对物种来说却非常严重。” 黄修德说,大部分森林的产果周期是每年一次,在东南亚,就有点不一样。苏门答腊、婆罗洲和马来半岛这三地森林,开花结果的周期不是每年,它是超年的,叫作“supra-annual”,即多过2年,可能是3年、5年甚至10年才开花结果一次,所以难以捉摸。 “这完全跟气候有关,受圣婴现象影响,它每5年至7年来一次,近年更频繁。圣婴现象造成干旱,而植物生长与否与气候有很大关系,并取决于雨量、温度和湿度。” 黄修德说自己深深体会森林富含的奥妙。看那林中的叶尾呈尖状,那是为了让雨水徐缓流下,而不是像瀑布般直接冲洒落地,冲走地表养分。为什么会这样子呢?“森林里的奥妙啊!每一种动植物在它的环境中,都有其生存之道和作用。” 他说,森林好像大海般深不可测,可是它很严重地逐渐消失。除了被改成油棕园,那市场价格奇高的硬木不断应声倒下,还直接压坏其它树木,破坏动物们的食物和栖息地。 “铲泥机开路,把内陆树木带出森林,整个过程要殃及多少无辜?有研究显示,当在一个地方砍伐3%的森林,过程中其周遭的破坏性超过50%。”

科学家的研究报告,有何贡献?

科学家为什么做研究,他们的研究报告可有贡献?以黄修德为例,其研究文献主要提供给政府、政策决策者、自然资源经营者,比如林务局、森林局,伐木经营者等相关资料和数据,并建议如何在采用资源获取利润与维持森林良好生态中,达到双赢的平衡。 他希望研究成果能给相关人士在进行自然资源管理上,特别是对森林的永续使用,提供指标。只有充分了解物种的生态环境与习性与跟栖息环境的关系,才能以最好的方式去经营森林,包括设立条例。

“我的研究是要找出这些动物在择伐林里头,使它们能继续生存的重要因素。比如它们很依靠无花果树,橡子树、栎树的果子,所以在伐木活动中,这些很大的果树不能砍。 “伐木活动一旦存在,无论如何都具有负面影响,问题是怎样把冲击力减至最低,使物种可以继续生存,人类也可善用森林资源。” 他指出,有人在森林里工作,间接地会成为阻遏盗猎的督促者,同时他可利用自己的专业,训练当地居民从事这方面的学习,作类似研究。

黄修德Profile

◆黄修德是美国蒙达那大学森林与保育系院的准博士,主修野生族群生物学;1998年他曾在沙巴州的原始低地雨林保护区达浓谷(Danum Valley)待了两年半,完成其硕士论文:马来熊的生态学研究。2005年他重返旧地,这次是为博士论文,专修马来熊(Sun Bear)和胡须猪(Bearded Pig)的研究和保育;预计明年完成研究方案。

◆1992年自台湾屏东科技大学畜牧兽医系文凭毕业后,黄修德曾当过教授的研究助理,在台湾南部亚热带阔叶林做野外研究工作两年。之后回来大马,参与本地的保育工作。

◆后来他到美国念书,在温带的针叶林住了9年,夏天时候到森林野外工作,由此累积了超过十年的野外研究经验。

◆回忆在美国念大学的第一年,他碰上了现在的指导教授,上了他一堂有关世界熊类保育的状况。黄修德趋前向教授介绍自己来自马来西亚,他提及大马有马来熊,而教授表示正找着人选从事这方的研究。“这下正合我心意,就毛遂自荐,因为我对于大型哺乳动物的研究非常有兴趣。”

◆他本是畜牧兽医系出身,基本上跟研究野生动物无大关联,所以算是转科。

3/31/08

Captive sun bear series III: Life in hell


If these baby bears can past the crucial infant stage where extensive cares was needed, they could pretty much make it to adulthood without any problem. However, more suffering once they grew bigger and stronger. By a year old, they could reached 15 kg, and were no longer safe pets to their human owners. Their strength grew, together with the tools that they used to find food: claws and canines, which could potentially did a lot of damage, if they wanted to. Depending on where were them kept and who kept them, they could be locked in small metal cages, sometime as small as 1m x 1.5m x 1.5m. In places like mini zoo or private menageries, they were usually kept in slightly larger cages with cement floor. One thing for sure is that these bears will never had a chance to feel soil, use their claws to dig, or their canine to bite (I will write more about how a wild sun bear live in the wild later). Most people who live in the countries where sun bears are found have no idea what is animal welfare about. In their dictionary, there is no such terms like “animal rights”, nor “animal welfare.” They do not think that the animals also have feeling, emotion, dignity, and can feel pain like a human being. What most people think about most animals is that they are here to serve us. As a result, bear owners do not feel it is wrong to cage a magnificent wildlife like a sun bear in a small cage. They think that as long as they feed the bear, and the bear stay alive, they are doing a very good job on “TAKING CARE” of the bears.



Sun bears are very “durable” animals. I say so because they can pretty much live on any kind of food once they passed the infant or young cub stage. They can be fed on pure fruit diet or pure rice diet by the owners or animal keepers who do not have a clue on nutritional or balance diet for a carnivore like sun bear. They will feed them whatever is the cheapest, easiest to obtain, and simplest for their job: “taking care” of bears! Most people will never feed these bear any meat product because they think by doing so the bear will become a “man eater” or be very dangerous. Yet, most captive bears are over fed, they are obesed, and look being well “taken care” of.
Local tourists who visited the menageries, mini zoos, crocodile farms, or even zoos, do not think that it s wrong to keep the bears in such poor condition. Almost no one will feel sympathy for the bears being raised in such a poor condition. In stead, they think that the bears were quite funny, quite amusing, and fun to watch, especially these bears may stand up right to beg food from visitors. No one complains about the bears have small room to roam, hot under baking tropical sun, etc. At the end, these bears continue their suffering, no one concern about their welfare.

3/29/08

Captive sun bear series II: Life at young in captivity, the suffering begin..

Because they are small and cute, sun bear owner often keep them in a small pet cage for puppies or birds. This is the beginning of life in hell.
I once saw a bear cub in a crocodile farm in Sarawak. From a distant he looked like a puppy because she was place next to a puppy. But from my distance, she did not look like a puppy because she paced none stopped. Puppy rarely paced, but sun bear pace all the time in captivity. Her condition was a typical bear cub in captivity: malnutrition with very pale color coat, weak, dehydration, stress, and extremely nervous. I immediately put my finger into her month to let her suckle.


Sun bear cub suckle to seek comfort. It is the same reason as babies like to suck pacifier. If their mother is around, they of course nurse from their mother’s nipples, even until they reach adulthood. I once saw an adult sun bear in Singapore Zoo do that even when he was an adult.
Solitary captive bears suck on pretty much any body part that they can get hold of: hand, feet, even their own penis, vulva, or other bears’ ears, if they have a companion to stay with. They will admit a series of “ummmmmmm..” sound with their eyes half closed when suckle. This is pretty much the first thing I do when I approached a nervous captive bear cubs, let them suckle, they then will calm down quickly and slowly trusting me.
video
Like other animals, infant sun bears are very fragile creatures that need lots of care, attention, and nutrition. In captivity under human care, they usually receive very little of these essential elements, not to mention TLC that their mother use to give them. Unknown number of cubs died due to improper care, simply because of these so call bear owners do not have a clue how to take care and what to feed to baby bears. Many of them were given sweet condense milk, high fruity diet like lots of papaya and banana because they are cheap. Because of imbalance diet, many sun bear babies in captivities show signs of malnutrition and unhealthy. They did not have sleek black coat, but in stead, their hairs are sparse, dull, and pale color. Many of the cubs that looks like this will not live long.
In Indonesia or Thailand, high government officials often keep bears or other wildlife to simply show off their power and status. In other region, rich people buy those cubs to amuse them. However, bears are carnivores, no matter how cute and how tame they are when young, they will eventually turn into a dangerous beast no matter what given a year or two. They are well equipped with the tools to harm their owner or anyone who are less lucky. Sometime these casualties maybe not be an intentional attack or predatory behavior, they are simply the beasts that can cause serious injuries to human during bear play fights. This is what they are after all!

(Notes: it was uneasy for me when I posted this piece after searching through my old photo files of these sun bears cubs. Looking at the photos and video clips of these babies were absolutely heart broken! They brought me to the actual scene when I found these babies.)