10/17/17

RM2.1mil support for Bornean Sun Bear conservation

11/4/2013

Saturday March 30, 2013​

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=%2F2013%2F3%2F30%2Fsouthneast%2F12896396&sec=southneast#.UVaa_JPOw-I.facebook

BSBCC’s youngest resc ued sun bear: Damai, a seven-month-old cub, is seen chewing off decayed wood to look for termites to eat. She was found in a residential area in Damai in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was then sent to the Lok Kawi Zoo before being sent to BSBCC.
WITH a distinctive pale horseshoe-shaped imprint on their chests coupled with their cute and cuddly disposition, it is easy to understand why anyone would fall in love with the Malayan sun bears.
Despite the fact that sun bears are a protected species, some unscrupulous people hunt them down for their body parts which are consumed for medicinal purposes while the cubs end up as pets. Over the years, this practice has tragically depleted the sun bear population.
Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest and least known members of the bear family and their population is rapidly diminishing in South-East Asia.
With the support of Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok, Sabah, has been working hard to right the wrongdoings of mankind. BSBCC has been rescuing sun bears which have been kept as pets and caring for them with the hope of releasing them back into the wild in the future.
BSBCC is a non-profit organisation initiated by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and a non-government organisation, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), in 2008 to look after the plight of captive and orphaned sun bears in Sabah and to promote conservation efforts.
In 2012, YSD allocated funding of RM2.1 million for the BSBCC. A major chunk of the funding is being used to renovate an existing bear house and to construct a second bear house where the rescued sun bears will be relocated.
YSD’s sponsorship also includes the construction of a visitor information centre and opening the BSBCC to the public, which would provide financial sustenance to the BSBCC.
YSD governing council member Caroline Christine Russell said the foundation’s sponsorship would help rescued sun bears to recuperate and be rehabilitated in a safe and protected environment.
“When sun bears are kept and treated as pets, they grow into adulthood without learning the necessary skills to survive in the wild. YSD is highly supportive of BSBCC’s mission to rescue captured sun bears and promote sun bear conservation in Borneo. This will halt cruelty to these animals including the killing of sun bears for their supposed medicinal value and keeping their offspring as pets,” she said.
BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the process of catching a sun bear cub involved killing its mother.
“If the law allows sun bears to be kept as pets, it will only fuel demand which would lead to more poaching of sun bears,” he said.
There have also been instances where poachers left cubs to die, after killing their mothers for body parts. The demand for the sun bear’s bile and other parts especially for traditional medicine and even for delicacies is said to be among the reasons for the poaching and illegal trade of the species.
The Malayan sun bear has been classified as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book Listing of Endangered Species since 2007 due to its dwindling population over the past 30 years.
Sun bears do not breed well in captivity and due to their naturally slow reproductive rate, a female sun bear may only have up to three to four cubs in her lifetime. Thus, excessive hunting or capturing of cubs can easily wipe out the local population.
It is illegal to kill or hunt these bears under the 1997 Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Malayan sun bear could face a mandatory jail term between one month and a year.
The BSBCC is currently home to 28 rescued sun bears.
The latest addition is a four-month old female cub that was found in a housing area in Kota Kinabalu in early November last year.
For more information on what BSBCC does and how the public can help with the sun bear’s conservation efforts, please visithttp://www.bsbcc.org.my.

Outreach to Lahad Datu 12&13 October 2017

15/10/2017

This week, the BSBCC's Education Team head to Lahad Datu district together with our partner from Hutan - Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Programme (KOCP). This Environmental Education outreach programme was organized by Hutan-KOCP and they invited BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department to participate in their programme. The first school we visited was SK Sabah Cocoa, Lahad Datu which is a rural school located in the middle of a plantation area. It is a low enrolment school (Sekolah Kurang Murid), only 39 pupils enrolled. The second school visited was SK Binuang, Lahad Datu. This school is about 15-20 minutes drive from Lahad Datu Town. Various activities were held during this programme such as talks, games, video show and colouring activity. Each participating organization also set up educational booth for the students and teachers to visit. Thank you Hutan-KOCP for inviting us to be part of the programme and we look forward to join more programmes with our partners in the future.

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Colouring activity for Primary 1 & Primary 2 students

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Bellinda delivering a talk on sun bears & BSBCC at SK Sabah Cocoa, Lahad Datu

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Posing with their coloured mask, SK Sabah Cocoa, Lahad Datu

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SK Sabah Cocoa, Lahad Datu

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Bellinda explaining the sun bear's diet

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Talk on Orang Utans by Mr Haslan from Hutan-KOCP

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Interpretation to Clouded Leopard by Ms Noratika from Hutan-KOCP

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SK Binuang, Lahad Datu

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Jeremy giving a talk on sun bears & BSBCC

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SK Binuang, Lahad Datu

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Question and answer session with students

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The student trying his best to answer the quiz, SK Binuang, Lahad Datu

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Mr Rayner from The Sabah Wildlife Department giving a talk on Sabah's Totally Protected Species

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Students visiting the educational booth by Hutan-KOCP

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The student reading the information about Orang Utan's distributions around the world

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Students visiting our educational booth

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The headmistress of SK Binuang, Lahad Datu visiting our booth

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Presenting certificate of appreciation

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Group photo at SK Binuang, Lahad Datu

Take Your Time to Know About Soo Bear

13/10/2017

Text by Seng Yen Wah
​Photos by Chiew Lin May & Seng Yen Wah

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Do you still remember the bear who has a sorrowful face, Soo? Good news, she had just recently finished her quarantine!

A little back story on Soo was that she was sold and purchased at RM350 when she was just a cub in Karamatoi village in Sook Keningau market. Soo was kept as a house pet in Nambayan village in Tambunan, the interior division of Sabah for two years. She was then rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to BSBCC on the 8th of September 2017. 

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Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, the sun bear is a totally protected species in Sabah under the wildlife enactment 1997. Totally protected means that sun bears are illegal to hunt, be kept or be involved in any activity that could hurt the sun bear. Deforestation, poaching and pet trade are the major threats to sun bear population. There is no doubt that sun bear cubs are cute but the cuteness of a sun bear is not a reason to keep them as a pet. They are a wild animal that belongs to the wild.

The market demand is another reason for encouraging the selling and buying process of the sun bear. The intention of saving a sun bear by purchasing them is an indirect way to encourage the poachers to hunt for more sun bear in the wild. So, please stop buying any wild animal in either legal or illegal means and stop keeping them as a pet. Please take note this important message, if you see a sun bear being sold, you can give a call to Sabah Wildlife Department (+6 012 801 9289) or BSBCC. We could help rescue the bear. Just bear in mind, the purchasing of sun bear will encourage more selling of sun bears. When people keep sun bears as pet, they leave major implications to the bears and it starts with trauma. Trauma may then lead to the stress-related behaviour such as pacing. 

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​During her time in quarantine, she spends more of her time by staying up high. But she does have her favourite enrichment, Aussie Dog Ball. The Aussie dog ball is filled with her favourite food, dog biscuits and honey. Besides that, keepers are trying to introduce her many kinds of enrichment such as live tree branches, happy sacks and much more. But, she seems to like to play at night time where no one is around her. This is the reason we called her The Nocturnal. She is preferably active at night. We saw her improvement within the 30 days quarantine. She appreciates all the foods that we offer and she can be eating so fast.

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Soo is sniffing on the live tree branch.

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After sniffing, Soo is licking the honey that keepers put on the tree branch.

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Another tree branch is given for Soo as nature-based enrichment.

Soo lost her trust and confidence when she was kept as a pet. She may not leave her trauma behind at the moment, but soon we believe she will make it and back to the forest with her bear friends one day. So, what can we do now? We can give her more care and love to make sure she gains enough trust and confidence back. We hope she can be a real wild bear again in the forest.  That is what she wants and what we want to. 

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10/10/17

Visit - SJK (C) Pei Ying, Sandakan

7/10/2017

A school visit from SJK (c) Pei Ying, Sandakan visited BSBCC today, 7th Oct 2017. The school children came together with their teachers and parents. They were given an introduction on sun bears and later they were brought to the observation platforms to see the bears roaming in the forest enclosure. The children together with their parents and teachers enjoyed their time at our Centre learning about sun bears and the environment. We were glad to share our knowledge on Sun Bears to them. Hopefully the children can gain new knowledge about sun bear and help us spread the awareness to their friends and family.

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Sharon delivered a short presentation about sun bears and BSBCC to the students

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Students of SJK (C) Pei Ying, Sandakan

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Receiving a certificate of appreciation from SJK (C) Pei Ying, Sandakan

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A Beary Awe-Inspiring Place

1/10/2017

Text by Nur Athirah Binti Asrif
Photos by Nur Athirah Binti Asrif, Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May

Greetings!

Hi my name is Nur Athirah. I am 21 years old and am currently a final year undergraduate Zoology student from the University Malaysia Sarawak. I was born and raised in the nature city of Sandakan. I have known BSBCC since they started but never had the chance to pay a visit. In the past I have always aspired to be a volunteer to work with the bears but here I am finally, sharing you my own story!

A little heads up; there will be tons of pictures of my days in BSBCC here. Well as the saying goes, A picture is worth a thousand words, so bear with it! :)

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As a requirement for my studies, we have to undergo an industrial training for a period of 10 weeks.  I have zero hesitation upon applying BSBCC as my internship placement and am totally grateful to be accepted. I admit that I was one of the luckiest to have done my industrial training in this centre. For all the 69 working days, there was not a single day that I didn’t gain a new experience. It was truly a life changing journey which I believe I would not get from any other places. Each day in the centre has always been interesting and I will always look forward to what will come on the upcoming days.  It is a place that brings a more positive side of me as I was able to venture myself into more extraordinary and more challenging tasks and that is what makes my journey a memorable one. In a way, it acts like a rehab not only for the sunbears, but also for me. 

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Noah, one of my favorite bear, is having his time in the forest enclosure.

​Sunbears are the smallest bears in the world and are one of the least known. It was devastating for me as a local to see how little do our own people know about these beautiful creatures. As I have the opportunity to get engaged with the public during educational outreach and also at the visitors centre, I realized that most of the locals have very little knowledge about the sunbears let alone the wildlife. But a huge thanks to our papa bear, Dr Wong Siew Te for all his hard work in which more of the sunbears that in danger are saved and more people are educated.

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Chee Yong (left), Batrisyia (middle), Me (Right) with Papa Bear, Dr Wong Siew Te during our weekly sessions.

Formerly, BSBCC has four main pillars which include welfare, rehabilitation, education and research. During my days in this centre, I have the opportunity to work with various departments which covers almost all the four pillars.

First off is welfare, which are mainly all the work in the bear house. Our daily routine in the bear house is well organized as we follow the schedule provided. From feeding to husbandry, everything is neatly organized and is well timed. During my first few weeks working, it was a tough ride as it was a whole new experience. I have never cleaned (bear) cages before but during my first day I managed to clean five and I feel rather proud of myself.  As days passed, I feel accustomed to the routine and felt less lethargic during work. It was a tough ride but trust me, even with a small, unfit physical state like me, you be able to do things you have never imagined before as you try you’re very best.

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Me (left) and My Buddy Keeper, Brandon (right). The banana leaves on top of our head act as an umbrella.

As a volunteer, you will be assigned to a bear keeper whom will be guiding you throughout your volunteer period. Here is a picture of me and my buddy keeper, Mr Brandon Khoo Lee Ming cutting fire hoses for our project, the Noah’s Ark. Every volunteer are also encourage making a new form of enrichment for the bears regardless of the materials. For me, I made a small bunk bed which kind of resembles a hammock for the bears to simply relax and play.

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Me, the one with the braided hair, helped by Nizam and Brandon to build the Noah’s Ark.

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The Noah’s Ark is done! I am demonstrating on how to play inside the Noah’s Ark. Andy (left), Me (middle), Brandon (right).

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Noah and Nano playing with the Noah’s Ark.

​During my internship period, I was lucky enough to experience the whole procedure when a bear deceased and when a bear is rescued. I was able to do taxidermy on the deceased bear, Gutuk and also joined the team when the new rescued bear arrived, Soo.

Other than that, in the process of rehabilitation, I was given the opportunity to observe Noah and Nano from their fence training until the moment they are released into the forest enclosure. Observing this lovable duo had been a bittersweet memory.  It was a touching moment for me as I was lucky enough to witness the joy of the bears when they are released into the forest enclosure for the first time. Plus, I also wrote two story blogs about Nano and Noah which entitled “Cannot have the sweet without the bitter” and “A castle of wood, A playground for bears”.

This centre enables you to work with every task available. Your tasks vary from sawing bamboos, collecting termite mounts to hand drilling ironwoods. Regardless that you are a small girl, you will get the chance to do all the tough duty. The bear care team will always be there for you and guide you with all the work. I never waste my chance and always ready to learn something new because; where else will you have a chance to improve your craftsmanship? 

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Hand drilling the ironwood! Quite a tough one I might say.

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Me (right) and Sophie (left). Hand Drilling the ironwood under the scorching sun.

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Me (left) sawing the bamboo with the lads.

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Making a ridiculously huge stick paradox for the bear, Along. It was initially Chee Yong’s idea.

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Me replanting a young papaya plant in Pen E.

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Me and Sumira (Right), making enrichments with ginger leaves for the bears.

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Chee Yong, Batrisyia and me being carried by our Bjorn Hala Caretaker, Mr. Andy !

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Me (right) with Batrisyia (middle) and Chee Yong (left).

Also, cheers to my sidekicks, Chee Yong and Batrisyia which are also interns from Zoology,UNIMAS. We are the first intern students from UNIMAS to have done our industrial training in BSBCC and are said to be the best, haha (just kidding)! It was an amazing journey working with these people and I would never have all the fun things without them.

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Brandon (Left), Boboy (Top Left), Nizam (Top middle), Mizuno (middle) and Azzry (Right). Me with the amazing lads from the bear care team.

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Yen Wah (Left), Me (middle left), Batrisyia (middle right) and Lin May (Right). Me and my precious and most beloved bear care team ladies .

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Boboy (Left), Me (middle) and Nizam (Right). Helping Boboi to feed Boboy in Pen C.

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Me and Dr Wong Siew Te. A little handmade bear keychain for the most beloved papa bear.

This centre had taught me a lot not only about the sunbears but about passion, determination, hardwork, teamwork, skills and so forth. Huge thanks to Dr Wong Siew Te for all the knowledge and the time he spends just to have a meeting session with his volunteers. A round of applause to the bear care team who make my days in BSBCC as one of the best moment of my life. Every day at work is filled with laughter and fun. The bear care team had taught me a lot and have gave me so many insight especially in teamwork. Every day the team do noble jobs wholeheartedly and it is what I aspire to do in the near future. It took a one whole amazing team to make a globally known conservation centre.

Not to forget the educational team, for giving me a chance to visit three various schools around Sandakan. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to educate our own people about the sunbears and the wildlife. 

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Me with the amazing team that I have ever worked with!

Thank you so much for everything. I promise I’ll come back in the near future. Till then,

Love, Barks and Big Bear Hugs!