Happy belated New Year to all readers, fans and supporters of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. As we officially say goodbye to the year 2010, we are also welcoming the new year of 2011 with new plans, new hopes and new dreams at the same time!
I have kept my promise that I made in 2004 to the caged sun bears by founding the BSBCC with proper facilities and care for the sun bears. At that time, the situation for the captive sun bears in Sabah was very poor and help was needed urgently to improve the desperate condition of these animals. However, this “help”- funding, human resources, government permits, etc., were not easy to come by. I am most grateful to Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, and LEAP who gave me the full support to conduct this ambitious project. With the help from these three key agencies and organizations, plus the enormous help from so many parties and individuals, the lone crusade to help sun bears grew to become a team of forces to save the sun bear. Together, we made the impossible become possible.
BSBCC achieved its first goal last year by completing the construction of the first bear house and 4 forest enclosures. We moved the existing 12 bears from our old bear house to the new bear house with forest enclosures. All of these bears finally have the chance to walk in the forest, dig the soil, climb the trees, feed on termites, things that sun bears do in the wild. We later rescued an additional 9 bears, filling up our carrying capacity quickly.
Fortunately, our good works continue to receive recognition and support. Last November, the Malaysia Federal Government decided to fund the construction of Phase 2 and Phase 3 through help from the Sabah Wildlife Department. This great news means that we now have the full funding to complete the construction of the second bear house, additional 4 forest enclosures, visitor facilities (forest broad walk, visitor gallery, & observation platform) and refurbishment of the office and staff room. In short, we WILL set up the centre according to our ambitious plan and we WILL continue our hard work to save and help more sun bears and continue to let the world know about this little bear species that needs help. The preparation for Phases 2 and 3 has been ongoing over the last two months and hopefully the construction itself can begin soon. The plan is to have the construction completed by early 2012 and officially open to the public soon after.
Besides the construction to complete the building phase of BSBCC, several important missions will be underway in 2011. I will report for duty and manage BSBCC on site as my full time job on February 14th. My presence on site will reduce the heavy burden on Wai Pak and let him take a breath. We will begin plans for the reintroduction stage of a few of our rescued bears- surveying potential release sites, recruit field crews, and fund raising (as the reintroduction of sun bears back to the forest is very costly and time consuming). We will also continue to rescue and help more caged sun bears, conduct more studies on sun bears, and continue to educate people about the plight of sun bears locally, nationally and internationally. These tasks may sound ambitious. However, looking at the desperate situation faced by these bears, we have no choice but to lay out an ambitious plan and continue to work very hard to achieve our tasks.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support in many ways over the past two years. Many of you have helped us raise funds, spread the word, raise awareness, take care of our bears, volunteering at BSBCC, and in many other ways. Bit by bit, piece by piece, there is no better example to show other than the combination of your help has made this project possible and create a better future for the sun bears.
I hope all of you can continue to help us in this coming year!