7/28/16

Lawa is Home At Last : Second Rehabilitated Sun Bear Returns to the Wild in Sabah

Date: July 25th 2016



One day in May 2008, a one year old female sun bear cub came from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo named Lawa to Sepilok. She had a beautiful face which would catch your eye. But, how does such a gorgeous bear end up at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre? Normally, cubs stay with their mothers until they are two to three years old. However, in Lawa’s case, she was separated cruelly by killing the mother in order to get a cute sun bear cub, kept illegal as pet or sold on the illegal wildlife pet trade. Sun bear populations are estimated to have declined over 30% in the last three decades, leading for those bears being in danger of imminent extinction in the wild very real. Now, sun bears have been stated as totally protected species under Sabah Wildlife Enactment in 1997. People who keep them illegally and hunting them, will be fined up to RM50,000 and can be send to jail for 5 years, or both.

Lawa lost her mother when she was still a cub. She had no chance to learn the natural survival skills from her mother. The BSBCC provided her with a second chance, reintroducing her to natural forest enclosures.  Lawa has grown into a smart, agile and independent bear. She is now nine years old, weighs 40.5 kg. She has spend most of her days eagerly exploring up in the trees. She can make beautiful tree nests by using liana and tree branches. Nest building is one of the important but rare survival skills of a wild bear. After six years going through rehabilitation at the BSBCC there is now a happy ending for Lawa as she has acquired many vital survival skills and she is ready to return to her real forest home.

Release candidates are chosen based on their age and survival skills. They have to be fit in four conditions, they need to know how to forage, climb, nest building and lastly, the most important condition is they need to not attach to human and know how to avoid humans, in order to be at low risk of being killed by poachers or turn into a nuisance bear.



Health check starts with Lawa being put on anesthesia by Dr Rosa Sipangkui, Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarian.

On 24th July 2016, the BSBCC is preparing the final stage for the release of Lawa to a core area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Located in the Lahad Datu, Sabah encompasses 120500 hectares of pristine rainforest. Before the big day, the bear team again needed to find Lawa in Pen G at 4 pm. Dr. Rosa Sipangkui, a veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department, sedated Lawa. Once sedated, Lawa was moved from Pen G to bear house in order to undergo a full medical examination to ensure she is in good health before her release. Besides that, Wong Siew Te, BSBCC Founder and CEO made sure that Lawa’s satellite collar is functioning and well fitted on her. Finally, Lawa was moved into the translocation cage. She was then placed at the bear house area for a night. Our bear care keepers spent the night monitoring Lawa. She might not have known it, but after today her life will be totally different!

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Dr. Rosa and bear team enter the forest enclosure to prepare dart Lawa.



After sedation, Lawa is carried out of from her forest enclosure for a medical check up.

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First part of the process is the weighing Lawa.



Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.



Teeth and mouth are checked.



Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

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Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.



Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

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Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

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When all the data has been collected and recorded, Lawa is placed into a translocation cage.

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When all the data has been collected and recorded, Lawa is placed into a translocation cage.

It is time to go! On 25th July 2016, when it was still dark, the bear release team was getting ready to depart from Sandakan to Tabin Wildlife Reserves on two trucks, taking Lawa to her second chance in the wild. The release team started in full force for the release of second sun bear back into the wild.



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Lawa is loaded on a truck for the ride to a new home in the wild.

The team arrived at Tabin Wildlife Reserve Headquarter at 8.15 am. The morning sun and clear sky reminded us to start moving.



When arrive the entrance of Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lawa peeks out!!



Sabah Air Aviation Sdn. Bhd Bell 206 Jetranger landed at Tabin Wildlife Reserve Headquarter.

This year our release team will be using helicopter model Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd (Bell 206 B3) Jetranger Underslung to reach our final destination.



Discussion on Lawa release operation.

We made the final release preparation and inspections to ensure the safety. The operation was split into two difference trips. The first trips, the team entered the mud volcano of Tabin forest to evaluate and identify the suitable release site.



Aerial View of Tabin KM-22 Mud Volcano.

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They checked the wrapping net thoroughly.  After final checks on Lawa by Dr. Rosa and Wong Siew Te, the team took the transportation cage and loaded it into the wrapping net. The process went smooth.

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At 10.15 am, Wong Siew Te (BSBCC CEO & Founder) and Lawa was finally lifted up into the blue sky, heading to Tabin mud volcano. At 10.35 am, Bell 206 Jetranger that carrying Lawa landed safely on the Tabin mud volcano.





The weather cleared as it felt the joy of welcoming Lawa to her true home in the Tabin forest



The Bell 206 Jetranger Helicopter carrying Lawa in her translocation cage landed safely on the Tabin mud volcano.

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The arrival of Lawa was greeted by the sound of birds in Tabin Widlife Reserve. The sights, sounds and smells of Tabin Wildlife Reserve will be very new for Lawa. Immediately Lawa was taken to the release side by BSBCC team. Lawa looked well rested, happy and ready. She realized there were so many higher trees in pristine rainforest around her. She will soon free and ready to live a new life as a true wild sun bear!

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Could not wait to be free in the forest!

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The experience Lawa has gathered during six years at the rehabilitation center will help her explore her true home in the core area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

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The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.



The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.

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The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.



Wong Siew Te is feeding Lawa with honey water.

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1 comment:

kaleen said...

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