4/4/13

Special Moments with Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini in the BSBCC Forest Enclosure Part 1

Text and photos by Chiew Lin May
On March 13th 2013, Ah Lun and Julaini stepped foot into the forest for the first time. These 4 sub-adult sun bears are now spending their days roaming, foraging, and digging in the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) forest enclosure.

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Ah Lun and Julaini watch how and wondering why Natalie go out from door.

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Ah Lun, female sub-adult sun bear step foot on forest floor. She follow Rungus roaming around the forest enclosure.

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Julaini is the last one who confident to step the foot on forest floor.

Now Natalie and Rungus are confidently roaming the forest. Once the door is open both of them will go out immediately. They are enjoying their freedom. They have large trees to climb, decayed wood/logs, soil to dig in, and a natural forest to explore. Through the forest enclosure they look for a comfortable place to take a rest. They are doing well and spending the rest of their days getting used to the sights and sounds of their new environment where they are learning what it takes to live like wild sun bears.
Natalie is an excellent climber, and spends much of her time in trees foraging for her meals, insects, by using her long, sharp claws. Natalie is a great leader. She is very independent and has taught herself how to climb high up in the trees. Additionally, she loves to be outside. Rungus likes to makes a mess by scraping off all the soil or decayed wood she can searching for termites, beetles and other invertebrates. Ah Lun and Julaini surprisingly have shown some confident roaming in the forest enclosure already. Ah Lun prefers to spend her time alone, playing happily in the forest enclosure. It took Julaini a while to come out of his door and take a few steps. He was extremely wary of his new surroundings. He sniffed and foraged around the entire place.
It has been very heart-warming to see them grow in confidence and strength, as they become used to using all four limbs and climbing high up in the trees. All these things encourage natural, wild behaviour. They are all making great progress.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is in a wonderful location for true rehabilitation as the forest has huge trees sun bears love. Seeing this forest dwelling species digging and climbing happily in the forest all day long is extremely motivating.
Here are a couple of photos of Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini roaming, digging and climbing trees at BSBCC forest enclosure.

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Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini is happily roaming at forest enclosure.

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Natalie, the group leader become an excellent climber.

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Natalie loves to spend a lot of their time on trees.

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Agile climber, Natalie use her powerful and long claws to climb trees search for food or rest on trees.

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Rungus is like to spend time on digging soil and decayed wood foraging for food.

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Rungus was keeping an eye out whilst foraging.

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Using her long and sharp claws, Ah Lun was busy foraging food from the tree hole.

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Ah Lun use canines to chew the dead log.

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Julaini likes spend much of the day sunbathing or resting. Sometimes, Ah Lun and Natalie will company and play together with him.

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It was hot afternoon, Natalie took rest on the forest floor.

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Natalie use long tongues to slurp up the termites or insects.

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Rungus and Natalie was grooming each other!!

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In the forest, Rungus and Natalie was play together. It is amazing !! They love to explore forest very much.

Keep up to date on Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre news by visiting our website www.bsbcc.org.my

3/29/13

The Integration of Rungus with Bongkud

Text and photos by Chiew Lin May

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During the play fight, Bongkud (left) and Rungus (right) show their canine teeth and claws to prove who among them has more strength!!

Bongkud has another new buddy and playmate, Rungus. Rungus is a 5 year old sub adult female. Rungus’ name is the name of an ethnic group who live in the Kudat district of Sabah. She was kept at the Victory Mini Zoo Farm in Kudat, Northern Sabah and arrived at BSBCC on the 12th  November 2010.
On the 26th February 2013, Bongkud was integrated with Rungus. Once the gate was opened Rungus went into the next cage where Bongkud was located. Rungus sniffed Bongkud and was very curious. After two minutes, both started to play fight together!! Bongkud has a smaller body compared to Rungus, but this was not a problem for Bongkud and she got on very well with her new friend. Both of them kept chasing each other around and standing up on both hind legs before rolling together to show who has more strength. Their claws and canines were also shown. Tired from play fighting, both had a rest and were gasping for breath. Sometimes Bongkud would climb up high to avoid Rungus who was biting her on the neck. It was very interesting when they were play fighting inside the basket for about thirty minutes. Rungus was always looking very cool and peaceful.  At the end of the day, the integration was a great success. Rungus was the one who showed the most dominance.
Bongkud and Rungus will integrate for two to three hours. As usual, both of the sun bears will play fight, chase each other, roll and climb around together. So far their interactions are positive and finally they are become good playmates.
These are the pictures that show how Bongkud and Rungus play fight.

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Rungus (left) and Bongkud (right) was spend their time play fight inside the basket for about thirty minutes.

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3/23/13

The Integration of Julaini with Bongkud

Text and photos by Chiew Lin May

Julaini, a 4 year old sub adult male, was named after the head welder who constructed the new bear house. Julaini came to the centre from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo on the 3rd July 2010. Julaini has a cataract problem, which has resulted in a white dot on his left eye.
Bongkud, a 2 year old sub adult female, was named after the village where she was rescued in Ranau, Sabah. She arrived at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) last year on the 19th June 2012.
Julaini started integrating with Bongkud on the 25th February 2013 at 2.44 pm. Once the gate was opened, Julaini went into the next cage where Bongkud was located. Julaini initiated play fighting and started to sniff Bongkud’s body and was very curious about her. They gently touched and sniffed the face and neck of each other using their mouth and nose. Once play-fighting began, both sun bears stood on their hind legs and tried to push each other over with their strong paws. However, Bongkud being a little too playful started to bite Julaini. Julaini bite Bongkud back and he started asserting his dominance by pinning Bongkud on the ground. Before long though, they were rolling, chasing,  play fighting and climbing around together. There was no barking or huffing sounds happening when they were play fighting, however, they did bare their claws and canine teeth.  After a few minutes together they had already started to accept each other.

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Julaini (front) and Bongkud (behind) was showed up their strong claws and canine teeth 

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Both spends the day with chasing, rolling and play fight together without aggression behavior.

There was a good deal of mutual sniffing and playing together. They spent much time playing, chasing and resting. They would often try and guess the other's mood before continuing to play fight!!
Sometimes they continued to play until they were both very tired and then they would rest on the ground. At one point Julaini wanted to rest and eat some fruit but Bongkud still wanted to continue play fighting. However, Julaini made it clear by making some warning sounds that he was not interested in playing first and continued to eat and forage. Bongkud got the message and left Julaini alone. Their play fighting though was mostly very gentle. Both of the sun bears did not show any signs of aggression. At the end of the day the integration was going well and a great success. But, Julaini was definitely showing dominance over Bongkud.

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Bongkud tried to show Julaini that she has the strength too !!

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Juliani showed dominance over bongkud !!

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Bongkud was rest at branch after tired play fight with Julaini.

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At the end of the integration with Julaini, Bongkud expression showed that finally she can lying down on ground floor to rest.

For the rest of their first week together they integrated well and no aggression was noted. After all, Bongkud now has a new friend and playmate and is getting on very well with Julaini!!

3/18/13

Natalie and Rungus - Finally Out In the Forest!!

At the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), all confiscated orphaned sun bears arriving at the centre must undergo electric fence training before they can be released into the BSBCC’s forest enclosure. Entering the forest enclosure is a very important phase for these bears, as they take their first steps onto the forest floor, often after spending many years in cages.
Some of the bears may take only one day to enter the forest, whereas some may take one week and others one month or more before they put all four of their feet onto the soil.
On 5th March 2013, the door that connects our BSBCC bear house to the forest enclosure was opened to let the sub-adult sun bear group consisting of - Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini access to the forest.
As expected, the "Group Leader" Natalie was the first one to lead the group to explore the conditions around the newly opened door. However, none of the bears stepped foot into the forest on that first day.

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The Group Leader - Natalie, the first one to lead the group to explore the conditions around the door.

On 7th March 2013, Natalie was still "checking" the surroundings by putting her front two feet outside the door. At times the bears were attracted to and curious about the macaques that were roaming near the forest enclosure.

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Julaini (right), showing his long tongue and putting his front two feet outside the door.

The 12th March 2013 was the day that the BSBCC team members had been waiting for!!

10:28am: Rungus walking down the ramp to get the food and honey. Excitement, caution and curiosity were all displayed on Rungus’ face and in her movements.

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Unexpected outcome, Rungus walking down the ramp and all four of her feet onto the soil.

he started to explore the surroundings by sniffing around, before heading straight inside the forest without even waiting for Natalie, Ah Lun and Julaini !!

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Rungus, heading straight inside forest !!

2.30pm: The "Group Leader" Natalie, started to become confident enough to step outside again. She tried to get the food that was scattered around the forest enclosure. Slowly she stepped onto the forest floor, alert to everything surrounding her. Natalie found some dead wood just near to the open door and started digging into it for around ten minutes before going into the forest to meet with Rungus.

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Natalie, slowly stepped outside to get the food.

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Have a look at the photos to check out what Rungus and Natalie are doing on their first day out in the forest!!

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First try into forest by "The Group Leader" - Natalie !!

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Julaini (right), exploring the surrounding of the door.

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Natalie, digging the soil on the first day step into BSBCC forest enclosure !!

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3/14/13

Natalie and Rungus - Finally Out To Forest !!

Text and Photo by Tee Thye Lim

At Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), the confiscated orphan sun  bear will go through the electric fence training before they release into BSBCC forest enclosure. This is a very important phase where the bears will take their first step onto the forest floor after they have been keep in the cage for a long time.


Some of the bear may take 1 day to enter into forest, some of them may take 1 week, and some of them even spend more than 1 month to put four of their feet on the soil.


On 5th March 2013, the guillotine door which connected from our BSBCC bear house to the forest enclosure has been opened to let the sub-adult sun bear group - Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini to access to the forest.
As expected, the "Group Leader" - Natalie, is the first one who lead the group to explore the condition around the guillotine door. But none of them step into the forest on the first day.


On 7th March 2013, Natalie still "checking" the surrounding by letting out her feet at the guillotine door. Sometimes they will attracted and feel curious to the macaques who roaming near to the forest enclosure.
12th March 2013, this is the day where most of BSBCC team members have been waiting for !!

10:28am, Rungus, walking down from the ram to get the food and honey. Excitement, precaution, and curiosity were all shown on Rungus face and her movement.


She started to explore the surrounding by sniffing around and straight went inside the forest without waiting for Natalie, Ah Lun and Julaini !!
2.30pm, the "Group Leader" - Natalie, started to get confident to step out again. She try to get food which scattered in the forest enclosure. Slowly, she step on the forest floor, alert to everything surrounded her. Natalie found a dead wood just near to the guillotine door and she digging on it for around 10 minutes before she went into forest to meet with Rungus.
Have a look at the photo to check out what are Rungus and Natalie doing for the first day stepping out into forest !!

3/12/13

Connecting kindergarteners in Australia with sun bears in Borneo

By Wong Siew Te

Stuarts Point Pre School always has a special heart for sun bears ever since I was introduced to their director Erin Chapman last January by a close friend of Erin who visited BSBCC earlier and shared our stories. They would like to do more and to help sun bear. A Sun Bear Project has been initiated in the preschool. The project "hope to raise awareness of the tremendous efforts of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and to make the little know Sun Bear famous in Stuarts Point and Scotts Head!!!" You can read more about Stuarts Point Pre School and their sun bear project here: http://enhancedlearningspps.blogspot.com.au/p/our-sun-bear-project.html
The very first sun bear project was to introduce the sun bears to the children:
Tuesday 29th January,
Today we introduced the little known Sun Bear to the children, we drew their attention to the Sun Bear's special markings on their chest explaining how the markings look like a sun. We also told the children about the Sun Bear's plight and of how the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Borneo helps rehabilitate rescued Sun Bear's who were taken from their mummy's and put in small cages. This part the children did not like so much and asked: "Why did they get taken?"
http://enhancedlearningspps.blogspot.com.au/p/our-sun-bear-project.html

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Teaching the children to draw a sun bear is not as easy as its look!

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Few days later:
"Thursday 31st January,
Today we continued exploring sun bears... We have found it difficult to get some children to relate to the sun bear... so today we tried sparking their interest by viewing images of sun bear teddy bears and then inviting the children to participate in a guided drawing experience..."
http://enhancedlearningspps.blogspot.com.au/p/our-sun-bear-project.html


On Thursday 21st February, the preschool did a "Sun Bear Fundraiser" by selling "Grub cakes" and "Ant slice"
http://enhancedlearningspps.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/sun-bear-fundraiser.html

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With all the hard works from the teachers and children, they sold all of their cakes for the day and had a success fundraiser experience!
 On Monday 4 March. 2013, the children had a "skyping the sun bears" experience with me. After the children built and painted a sun bear rainforest habitat in the school, they managed to have a skype with me at the observation platform of BSBCC. The children got to see the sun bear "live" from BSBCC forest enclosure (although the bears were far from my laptop and the images of the bear appeared to be small). The children were excited to see me and the sun bears on their computer. I am having a lot of fun answering the questions that the children asked:

Charlotte: "Do the babies have big yellow marks on their chest too?"
Aiken: "Do Sun Bears build tree houses?"
Matilda: "Do the Sun Bears bite?"
Malu: "Do they have spikey hair"
Asher: "Why do the Sun Bears get locked in cages?"

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Using my laptop and my 3G connection for internet, I managed to skype the children from Australia!

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Answering questions from kids is always fun :)

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The images and voices from the sun bears were spread across the world through skype. Thanks to the technology, additional group of children know more about sun bear and their plights.  They will grow up knowing more about the sun bears and the conservation issues about the rainforest of SE Asia.


We hope we could do this skype call more often with each other.
I hope other school across the world can also "visit" us, "see" the sun bears "digitally" at BSBCC and learn more about the sun bear.  Even better, visit us "physically" next year when we officially open to the public!
Slowly but surely, sun bear the little known bear in the world will become a well known bear!