Let the pictures tell the stories… the sun bears at BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Let the pictures tell the stories… the sun bears at BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text and photos by Siew Te Wong

Sun bears live in dense tropical forests across Southeast Asia. In Peninsula Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, the habitat of sun bears is the ever green tropical rainforests. These rainforest are green and lush all year long with multi-layers of canopies that can reach 65 m above the ground. Trees and all sort of plants grow at every corner in the forest. These dense vegetations provide important covers for the wildlife that live in these forests. As a result, wildlife in the tropical rainforest is illusive, rarely seen, and not well known. One of the wildlife found in these forests is the sun bear!

Let me show you how sun bears live in the lowland tropical rainforest of Borneo.

Thanks to Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Depart, LEAP, many funders, supporters, partners, volunteers, BSBCC has started from a big dream to reality.

Please share these photos and feel free to tag yourself and friends!

Thank you, thank you and thank you!

Photo 1: This is the first photo I wanted to show: a photo of the lowland rainforest of Borneo. The forest has multi-layers canopies, very dense in vegetation. Life is thriving on every corner in this forest. This is the forest enclosure of BSBCC where the sun bears roam freely each day.

Photo 2: Pay attention to the two red circles. They are here for good reason :)
Photo 3: When I used my zoom lens and zoomed in for a little bit. Do you see what I see? No?
Photo 4: OK, check out the red the red circles again, see it now?
Photo 5: This is what I cropped out from the bottom red circle. Yes, a sun bear!
Photo 6: This is what I cropped out from the top red circle. Another sun bear! This bear is sleeping.

Photo 7: I then used my 300mm zoom lens to take another photo. This is what I took :)
Photo 8: Cropped out from photo 7, nice eh?
Photo 9: A minute later, the bear seemed to see me from a great distant and waked up from her nap.
Photo 10: Cropped out from Photo 9. Really nice!
Photo 11: Zoom in to the bear on the lower circle. She also seems to know that I was photographing her.
Photo 12: Cropped out from Photo 11. She was peeking at me!
Photo 13: Is time for the bear at the lower red circle to take her nap.
Photo 14: Cropped from photo 13. This is how sun bear sleep or nap on tree. Sun bear is a tree loving bear. They love to climb and spend a lot of their time on tree – sleeping, resting, feeding or even playing!
Amazing? Yes, totally!


Borneo's top 5 travel secrets | Inspire Me | Wanderlust

Borneo's top 5 travel secrets | Inspire Me | Wanderlust


Discover the sun bear sanctuary on your next trip to Borneo (Kevin Albin)

Borneo's top 5 travel secrets

24th October 2012
Borneo is a land of intrigue, popular with travellers the world over. Award-winning guide Kevin Albin reveals how to avoid the honeypots, starting with sun bears

1. Sun bear sanctuary, Sepilok

Sepilok is a popular destination to see the orang utans but right next door is a brand new sanctuary for sun bears (helped along by Kevin's Guide Award bursary). These bears are the smallest of all sub-species and, like the orang utan, they are arboreal and are losing their habitat through deforestation. Sadly, they are also poached, captured for pets and used in Asian medicine.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre currently has 25 bears in residence. Conservationists are nursing them back to health and where necessary, educating in how to be a wild bear. The intention is then to release them into the forest. As so few people know about the sun bears, including Malaysian and Indonesians, the Centre is also involved in education and raising the animal's profile.

2. Lupa Masa

Picture an eco-camp made from giant bamboo with palm thatched shelters, solar powered lighting and reed bed toilet disposal. There's no roads, no hunting and it employs solely local people.
The real beauty though lies in the forest, which is full of jungle animals who live undisturbed. Track down exotic birds, curious insects and a range of primates, such as gibbons who make the most enchanting noises. Clear rivers and stunning waterfalls complete the experience.
Lupa Masa means literally to 'forget time' and near to Poring Hot Springs, surrounded by the beautiful Mt Kinabalu National Park it's easy to see why.

3. Picnic with the Penan

If you are looking for a genuine experience in the jungle with local people, this one is exceptional. The Penan, once a truly nomadic tribe, know exactly how to live in harmony with the forest. You'll need to take a light aircraft flight to Long Lellang, deep in the rainforest and maybe a boat journey in a dug-out canoe.
Witness how the jungle provides for its inhabitants with food, water, and shelter as well as those comforts such as baskets and bracelets made from rattan, and even musical instruments from bamboo. The area is stunning and the guides who will take you trekking are very knowledgeable.

4. The Kinabatangan River

This is a remarkable place to see wildlife. Pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and even saltwater crocodiles. Cruise the river at dawn and dusk, stay in a bamboo hut at Sukau or Abai Village and savour the great food being served.
Take a night walk in the jungle with a local guide who will find things you would never have spotted on your own. The nearby Gomantong Caves are worth a visit for the bats and swiftest and their nests – a spectacle straight out of a David Attenborough documentary.

5. Santubong

This is across the bay from Bako National Park near to Kuching and is a little known area. It's where 19th century British explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace carried out some of his research, thought to have been instrumental in Darwin's evolution theory. For wildlife enthusiasts there's the chance to spot rare hornbills, turtles, and the Irrawdy dolphin.
If you're feeling fit, Mt Santubong is worth the four-hour trek to the summit.
Kevin Albin won Bronze in the 2011 Wanderlust World Guide Awards. He used his prize bursary to help set up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Find out what makes him an award-winning guide here.


Big Dreams Little Bear at Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Big Dreams Little Bear at Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

By Wong Siew Te

The weekend of the October 14th was a busy weekend for BSBCC and the sun bears in Malaysia. First it was the TV3′s hour-long documentary on sun bear and BSBCC in their popular TV program Majalah 3 broadcasted on Oct 13th. Then the momentum picked up when another hour-long BSBCC documentary Big Dream Little Bears was being screened at the 5th Kuala Lumpur Eco-Film Festival.

This screening of the Big Dream Little Bears not only raise awareness on sun bears and the story of BSBCC to the audience in KL, but also brought Howard Jackson and Audrey Low to KL and have a big reunion after two and a half years. Howard and Audrey owned Wildhoop Production, the film makers who produced, filmed, and directed Big Dream Little Bears. Without Howard and Audrey, we would not have stood there in front of the audience during the film festival.

A big reunion after two and a half year with Wai Pak, Audrey, Howard, and Wong all gathered at the KL Eco-Film Festival.

The weekend long even started with the screening of Big Dreams Little Bears together two other films at Palate Palette Restaurant and Bar on the evening of October 11th. It was a cozy event where audiences and fans packed the function hall on the second floor of the restaurant. The screening was well received with questions and answers at the end of the screening.

The introduction and making of Big Dream Little Bears by Audry and Wong

Special events and screening of other eco-films continued on the following three days at the Experimental Theater, University Malaya. The finale of the film festival was scheduled on the 14th at University Malaya where the screening of many eco-films started from the late morning to the evening. Big Dream Little Bears was screened to a much larger audience than the Palate Palette at the very last of the event. The audience enjoyed learning the facts of sun bears and challenges to save the least known bear on Earth.

Thanks to the KL Eco-Film Festival organizer, especially Yasmin Rashid, founder of Eco-Knights for their kind invitation for us to join the eco-film festival. The festival has been an important event to make more and more Malaysia know about our very own species of bears that live in our forest and serve important ecologic roles to maintain the health of our forest ecosystem!

An introduction of the film at the begining of the film.

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Wong’s TEDxKL talk is available online! – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Wong’s TEDxKL talk is available online! – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

If you miss Wong's talk at TEDxKL 2012, here is the chance to view it youtube:

Sun Bear TV program overwhelmed – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Sun Bear TV program overwhelmed – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

A huge success for the TV program Sinar di Sepilok: Kisah Beruang Matahari Borneo (Sunshine in Sepilok: Tales of the Bornean Sun Bears) broadcasted last weekend October 13th at Malaysian TV Channel TV3. The one hour program was produced, directed, and narrated by TV3′s journalist Irin Putri in her Majalah 3 (Magazine 3) documentary. The program has been overwhelmed by the general Malaysian viewers. To most of the viewers, this was the first time that they know about sun bears and the work we do at BSBCC. According to TV3′s survey, at least 1.8 million viewers have watched this program on prime time last Saturday.

If you miss the show or if you from oversea, you now can watch the program online at:


Just register with tonton.com.my and you will have access to view it online.

Enjoy the show!

One additional notes: Irin first contacted me on July 2010 about her interest to do a program on sun bear. This is what Irin wrote more than 3 years ago:

From: Irin Putri Azmi
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:01 AM
To: wongsiew@hotmail.com
Subject: TV3 Majalah 3 On Sun Bears

Mr. Siew,

I’m with TV3′s magazine-documentary programme called Majalah 3. I’ve been interested to do a special feature about you and the sun bears for a while now. I would like to know if you’re interested to be featured.

As the very few sun bear experts in Malaysia, I believe you are the best person to convey the message about sun bears and their conservations efforts to the local audience.

I look forward for your reply. You may contact me at 012-xxx xxxx for further information.


Irin Putri Azmi

Executive Broadcast Journalist

Primeworks Studios


Wow! I did not realize that it has been 3 years. Thank you Irin for your persistency to make this TV program a reality. Along with millions of viewers, I would like to thank you and TV3 for helping us to spread the words and make sun bear no longer a forgotten bear!

More than 200 pupils from the local school visited the BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

More than 200 pupils from the local school visited the BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Tee Thye Lim

The BSBCC team was expecting a visit from the local primary school, SRK (C) Chi Hwa, Sandakan on the 16th October 2012. A total of 236 standard 6 (12 year olds) pupils came to the Centre on that day . They were accompanied by 17 dedicated teachers and their headmistress, Mdm Ooi Mee Har.

Yes, it was a big number! In fact the biggest number of visitors we had so far coming in one day. They all did not come at one time. Instead, the pupils were separated into 7 groups and 1 group came at one time.

Arrival of the pupils

Welcoming the pupils to the Centre

The first group arrived at 9.30 am. Not having much idea of what to expect, all were excited when they were told that they were about to see the smallest bear in the world! It was amazing how silent they were along their way to the platform. Perhaps their teachers have taught them well of how to respect and appreciate nature. We were so impressed.

As soon as they reached the platform, all spread around and took their best place to look for the sun bears hiding in the forest enclosure. Some groups were lucky and saw the interesting behavior of the sun bears climbing up the trees. The BSBCC team took this opportunity to share about the sad stories of why the bears are currently at the Centre.

Explaining about sun bear behavior at the observationplatform
Explaining about sun bear behavior at the observation platform

How much do you think the chain weigh?

Showing the actual chain that used to be worn by one of
the bears when she was kept as a pet

The visit ended at 3.00 pm. I think the team did a wonderful job. Now an additional 253 people know about the sun bears! Special thanks to Madam Ooi and her team of teachers who had made all this possible!


More wildlife encounters - General - New Straits Times

More wildlife encounters - General - New Straits Times

'URBAN' ANIMALS: Wandering into human settlements due to rapid development

KUANTAN: INCIDENCES of public encounters with wild animals are becoming more regular in Pahang nowadays.
With rapid development squeezing forest buffer zones, more wildlife including monkey, tapir, elephant and crocodile are straying into human settlements.
Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) recorded 864 wild animal encounters last year compared with 695 reports in 2010.
Between January and August this year, 436 cases were recorded in the state.
State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Sharif said animals entered human settlements and plantations when their natural food sources in the forest had dwindled.
In June last year, she said a 350kg tapir fell and became stuck in a drain in Taman Kempadang Perdana here. It was rescued and later released into the nearby jungle.
In June this year, a 50kg wild boar created havoc when it came into town. It was later shot dead by a Perhilitan officer.
More recently was the sighting of a sun bear in Kampung Pandan 2 here which caused panic among villagers, prompting the department to set a trap.
Malaysian Nature Society president Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed said the authorities needed to manage rapid development which would help to preserve the wildlife's natural habitat.
Wildlife biologist based in Sandakan, Wong Siew Te said deforestation and new human settlements often forced these animals to come out in search of food.
The 43-year-old sun bear expert said wild mammals like the sun bear were extremely shy and would run away from the slightest noise caused by human activities.
"In the United States and Japan, sun bears have emerged from their natural habitat to scavenge for food in human settlements."

Sinar di Sepilok: Kisah Beruang matahari Borneo – Sunshine in Sepilok: Tales of the Bornean Sun Bear – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Sinar di Sepilok: Kisah Beruang matahari Borneo – Sunshine in Sepilok: Tales of the Bornean Sun Bear – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

TV3 filmed BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

TV3 filmed BSBCC – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text and photos by Wong Siew Te

Malaysian TV station TV3 came to make a TV program for their popular TV documentary series Majalah 3 from September 14 – 19, 2012. The filming crew is consisted of the host and producer of the program, Irin Putri, a camera man, and a sound technician. The film crew has taken many rare footages of the sun bears in both the forest enclosures and in the bear house, and filmed the daily busy routine of BSBCC. They also managed to film the moving of Fulung and Bongkut, the sun bear yearlings, to the new bear house, interviewed Wong and Wai Pak, and many others.

In conjunction of the broadcasting of the TV program, Wong will be interview in TV3′s morning talk show Malaysia Hari Ini (Today’s Malaysia) from 7:30 am – 9 am Friday Oct 12. The program is schedule to be air nationally through TV3 at 9 pm on October 13. On the following day, “Big Dream Little Bear” will be premier at the Kuala Lumpur Ecofilm Festival ay al 6 pm Sunday October 14, Experimental Theatre, Universiti Malaya.

This weekend, millions of Malaysians will learn about Malayan sun bear!

Mr Camera Man and the sound man!

The host and the producer of the program Irin Putri from TV3. Irin has communicated with me since early last year for this project. I am so glad that we finally did it! Thank you Irin!

How can a show on sun bear without sun bear? Here is Kuamut posting on her role in the program!

Irin is making an enrichment toy for one of the sun bear at BSBCC.

Interviewing Wai Pak, the project manager of BSBCC. Wai Pak is by far the most important person and dedicated staff of BSBCC who make this project possible.

We also did a health check on Fulung and Bongkud when we sedated and moved them from the old bear house to the new bear house.

After four days of filming around the clock, we finally took enough footages of the program. Here are the TV3 and BSBCC’s crews at the observation platform after the final shot.

BSBCC @ Animal Welfare Awareness Concert & Borneo Bird Festival 2012 – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

BSBCC @ Animal Welfare Awareness Concert & Borneo Bird Festival 2012 – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Text & photo by Gloria Ganang

It was such a precious and meaningful weekend for two of the BSBCC team members, Wai Pak and myself where we traveled to different towns of Sabah to be part of two outstanding events, the Animal Welfare Awareness Concert and the Borneo Bird Festival 2012.

The Animal Welfare Awareness Concert was held on the 5th October 2012 at the KDCA Hall, Penampang, Kota Kinabalu. The concert started at 7.30pm. However there was an exhibition session earlier that day which started at 2.30 pm. The exhibition was attended by groups of students from the local schools and of course animal lovers from across the state. This was a great opportunity to encourage the public to love the sun bears as well!

Setting up our booth

Wai Pak explaining the works of BSBCC to the VIP visitors

Local school students so much interested to know about the sun bears

Introducing the sun bears to the publc
Introducing the sun bears to the public

The cuteness of a sun bear cub always getting the public’s attention

The Borneo Bird Festival was held on the 5th – 7th October 2012 at the world famous Kinabalu Park. Apart from the spectacular scenery, the different birds occurring at the high elevation makes it a perfect spot for bird watching competitions. How did it go for the BSBCC booth? I could say we had a big hit!

Promoting sun bears to the important target group

More and more visitors

Yes, the kids need to learn about sun bears as well

Appreciation from the organizer

It was an overwhelming experience to see a lot of our local people have not yet heard or knew of the sun bears and that these bears exist in our forest! We made the visitors guess the name of the animals in the pictures showing a sun bear cub. The answers varied. “Panda!”, “Beruang kucing (meaning Cat Bear in Malay)!”,”Puppy”, or simply “a bear?”. “Panda” was the most common answer and people RARELY answered the sun bear! People who knew about the sun bears mostly are those who’ve heard of the worthiness of its bile or paws when sold or traded. Perhaps not many knew of their shrinking habitat, their reducing numbers or the penalties of keeping them as pets. Therefore, the BSBCC is glad that we are at both events to promote the word of this “forgotten” species. Special thanks to Valiant Events & Entertainment and the Borneo Bird Festival 2012 organizing committees for working so hard and made these awesome events successful. You guys rock!

Wai Pak and Rasmir Rashid, organizer of the World Animal
Welfare Awareness Concert

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