Sun bears in Taiwan – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation

Sun bears in Taiwan

This morning, I was interviewed by Dr Laurel Neme through skype for her radio show on Vermont’s Community Radio Station (stay tune, to be broadcasted on May 17). At the end of the interview she asked me what can the public do to help sun bear? “Do what you do best to help sun bears,” I replied. She thought this statement was very empower to inspire others to help this little bear.

Over the past year, there were many good stories and examples of people who were helping sun bear and BSBCC by doing “what they do best to help sun bears”. We have artists who produced paintings and art works of sun bears and celebrities performed in gala dinner to help us raised fund; we have fashion designers helping us to produce the first sun bear tote bags for raising awareness and fund; we have film makers to help us produced videos to promote our works and conservation awareness of sun bear, and photographers to help us took photos, etc,. The list go on and on.

Today, I am proud to introduce Paul Clenton, an English teacher who teaches in Taiwan’s Sense Language Centre. Paul’s story is another good example of “do what you do best to help sun bear”. He gave a presentation on sun bears and their plights to his class on Earth Day, conducted a “skateathon” to raise fund, and most importantly, as a teacher, he tough his student to LEARN more about sun bears. Here is a the story in his own words:

April 22nd:

“Hello there,

Well, I did a quick poster and sponsorship form. Regardless of how the parents respond, it looks like I’m in for a bit of exercise on Saturday (45km of exercise, hehe).

I did a presentation today and showed some of your video clips. In all I spoke to about 35 kids of primary school age. The response was interesting: 1 was moved to tears, many took it quite seriously and most were very interested. 1 boy guiltily confessed to having eaten bear paw soup once too, something I found quite surprising for a Taipei kid.

Anyway, I took the session to be a success; even if they just went home and told their families about what they saw, today’s message of the need to protect and conserve sun bears and their habitat will have reached at least 100 people in some form or other.

I’ll email you after the weekend and let you know how I got on. “


April 30th:

“I did a “Sun Bear Skateathon” for my students recently, following some lessons on the sun bears and also as a way of getting the kids involved in an activity for Earth Day. Despite a few difficulties (my board broke not far from the start, it was wet, I was attacked by dogs 4 times and came off twice on bad surfaces) I raised 3900 Taiwan Dollars. Some parents I never would have thought would care surprised me with their kind donations, though what I found most moving was a 6 year old girl called Dora who made a contribution from her own piggy bank because she said she wanted to help the bears. Little things like that give me hope.”


May 3rd:

” Hello there,
I think it is a very good idea to hand the funds over in person this August, and I am sure that this could help me get a little more too. :) I think that it would be great for a couple of my “little representatives” to help raise awareness. By the way, Dora actually “slaughtered” her piggy bank to save the bears. Quite unexpected and moving.”


Thanks Paul and all the students in Paul’s class. You did good, you did great! I thank you all!

So, ladies and gentlemen, please do what you do best to help sun bears!

Epilogue: Sun Bears in Taiwan

In fact, there were many caged sun bears in Taiwan that people keep as pets in the past. All of these pet sun bears were believed to come from Borneo, together with pet orangutans and gibbons that swamped the pet trade market in late 80’s and early 90’s when I was staying in Taiwan. Today, keeping endangered species is completely prohibited by the Taiwanese authority, but many animals, victimized by the pet trade, remained behind bars in wildlife rescue centre. Many of the pet sun bears were slaughtered once they grown big and became dangerous to keep as pets…..