Kala, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Forest Day Out

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Kala, is the youngest female cub of the many sun bears being cared for at the BSBCC. She was originally bought by someone in Kalabakan, near the Maliau Basin. The owner had intended to save the cub, but soon thereafter Kala was surrendered to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. When she arrived at the BSBCC on January 21st 2015 very little was known about her circumstances other than she has been separated from her mother at a very young age. The poachers usually kill the mothers in the forest in order to poach the bear cubs, which are then kept as pets or sold to illegal wildlife traders in South East Asia.

She was emaciated and malnourished upon arrival but the BSBCC staff has been caring for her around the clock to make her feel secure and confident. Kala has gained weight over the past few months and now weighs 10.35 kg. She has made much progress in the last three months, and we are very happy for her. Kala has a good appetite and eats and drinks all of the milk and fruit given to her. We have also noticed that she is starting to get her permanent teeth.

Kala is everything a cub should be – playful, inquisitive and sweet natured. It is a great joy to report that Kala finished her quarantine time on February 21st, 2015. We began regularly taking her out for walks in the forest on February 26th, 2015. This forest walk helps the sun bear cubs become wild bears again.

Stepped foot into the forest for the first time!

It has been two months now since Kala first went out into the forest.

Whenever she is taken out into the forest, she explores every corner and patch of the area.

She adjusted quickly to her new surroundings and demonstrated her ability to find forest foods and travel in the canopy. Kala enjoys searching for termites and earthworms in the soil, which are some of the most important food sources for sun bears.

Kala have long and curved claws that help her in climb trees and scrape off tree barks for termites!

She found pill millipede!!

She has a unique behavior of eating soil, which is something another sub-adult bear named Mary does. When she comes across something unexpected like a millipede or giant ant she is very cautious, shows little interest, and then runs away.

Kala loves spending her time lying on forest floor and grabbing dry leaves or branches to bite and play with. She has become more active and energetic, and her favorite activities include digging, eating soil, and playing. After she has exhausted herself exploring, she will rest for a while before continuing on to her next activity.

After she has exhausted herself exploring, she will rest for a while before continuing on to her next activity.

Sun bear cubs often play fight to help develop skills they will need in the wild. When Kala wants to play with the BSBCC staff, she grabs at their boots to initiate a play fight.  She also likes to show off her small canines and claws while she is playing.

Sun bears are arboreal animals; however Kala was not quite so confident when it came to her climbing skills. She can be a bit fussy when we put her up in the trees for a climbing lesson.

In order for her to learn how to climb trees, our bear keeper and volunteer, Rica and Thomas, built a new climbing structure for little Kala. This type of enrichment was specially made to help prepare her for the life back to the wild. Kala has taken great delight in learning how to climb the structure, and will soon be enjoying all of the enrichment structures provided in the den.

On March 28th, 2015 it was great to observe the confidence Kala demonstrated when using her claws and canine strength to climb the liana. Now, she is keeping rather busy with her own activities and likes digging dead wood, resting, and playing.

Do you spot her?

Kala was take a rest at liana.

 

Sometimes, she simply does not want to leave the forest!

Sun bear cubs depend on and stay with their mothers for about two to three years. Kala lost her mother at a very young age and now has to learn by herself how to survive in the wild. She has a long way to go through rehabilitation, but we are happy that her forest skills are improving day by day. We are absolutely delighted that Kala will have the second chance to live in the wild again once she is ready for life in the real forest.

Sun bears are the smallest bear species in the world. Please help spread the word that this animal belongs in the wild and should not be kept as a pet, no matter what the circumstance may be. Together we make the difference!

Educational Trip to Balikpapan, Indonesia

Text: Risnayati Lammu
Photo: Gloria Ganang & Risnayati Lammu

Welcome to Kawasan Wisata Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup (KWPLH).

Balikpapan: Ku Jaga, Ku Bela, Ku Pelihara“, that is the motto of Balikpapan we saw when we arrived at the city on 3rd April 2015. Balikpapan is located on the east coast of the island of Borneo, in the province of east Kalimantan, Indonesia. Kalimantan is one of the biological hotspots where you can find many endemic species of Borneo, like the orang-utan and Bornean sun bear. In 1997, Gabriella Fredriksson is a researcher who studied sun bears and forest conservation programme in Sungai Wain Protection Forest, Balikpapan. From her research, interest and local media attention on sun bears has been aroused. With the collaboration of local government and NGO’s, sun bear has been the mascot for Balikpapan since 2002. With the main goal to visit the sun bear centre and to learn its operation especially in terms of educational aspect, me and Gloria Ganang (BSBCC’s education team) were eager to meet the centre’s staff the next day.

Gloria with a big sun bear statue at the entrance gate.

Woke up early morning, we took a taxi to our destination. Kawasan Wisata Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup (KWPLH) also known as Environmental Education and Recreation Facility/ Sun Bear Centre is a facility located 23km from Balikpapan town. Upon arrival, we headed to their main office and received a warm welcomed by Ibu Yati. Then, we walked together to the entrance gate of sun bear enclosure where we met with Ibu Eka. Ibu Yati told us that early morning before the enclosure is open to the public, two staffs goes into the enclosure to scatter and hide food and special treats for the sun bears. The sun bear enclosure is approximately 1.3 hectares, which is almost the same size with BSBCC’s current forest enclosure, surrounded by electric and chain-linked fences.

Visitors can observe the sun bears from the access boardwalk.

After giving a morning briefing to some local students, Ibu Eka invited us for a tour around the sun bear enclosure. As we walked, Ibu Eka started her detail briefing on the sun bear enclosure and introduced us their sun bears which could be seen from the boardwalk area. There were a few bears that explored the enclosure, climbed, dug and sniffed around while searching for their tasty treat. I could remember one bear called Bennie, a chubby male bear with a wrinkled forehead, but he has no claws or canine teeth (probably removed by his previous owner). Currently, KWPLH is housing a total of seven sun bears which can never be released back into the wild, all of them were kept illegally as pet previously. The forest enclosure is filled with many trees and planted fruiting trees for the bears to climb up, rest and sunbath. As we came to the small viewing platform, there were a few younger staffs ready to assist visitor by providing sun bears information and to warn the visitor they shouldn’t make loud noises and disturb the bears. This sun bear enclosure has mutual benefits to both bears and visitors as the bears can freely explore their natural habitat while the visitors can have an understanding of bear behaviours and their forest habitat rather than seeing these lovely animals in captive.

One male sun bear found mix fruit that scattered around the area of forest enclosure.

Using his sense of smell, the male bear looks busy searching for food.

Besides the sun bear enclosure, KWPLH also provides Sun Bear Education Exhibit for the visitors to learn more about sun bears and the other bear species in the world. For me, this large, beautiful and semi-open exhibit was really informative as there were numerous educational displays in the form of interaction, statues, printed materials and paintings. The physical characteristics of the bear species, behaviours, ecology, feeding pattern and the conservation efforts were described on each section. The ways how they decorated the education display and presented to the public was brilliant to attract the visitors attention. Ibu Eka also informed us that most of the education displays are designed in a playful and interactive manner so that the visitors especially the kids can easily learn about the sun bears.

Ibu Eka (right) shares with Gloria (left) about the education programme that KWPLH organized in the past few years.

Open the small square board and you will know the physical characteristic of a sun bear.

From our conversation, Ibu Eka told us that they manage to go to more than 150 schools for the period of six months. What an amazing job they had done! At first, they went to school to introduce the school kids about the sun bears and give them an idea on animal welfare. After that, they would go to the same school again after a few weeks’ time to do refreshment so that the kids will not forget about what they have learnt from the talk given by the KWPLH staffs. As we walked further in, we reached another exhibit which is the Endemic Flora and Fauna of Borneo Exhibit. With the same design of education display, here we saw five main sections: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish and Endemic Plants. KWPLH truly provides the best educational facility for the visitors to learn more not only about sun bears but also the biodiversity of Borneo.

Sun Bear Education Exhibit: Ecology section

Snake is one of the predators that that kills the sun bears in the wild.

Ibu Eka also guided us to the other exhibit: Domestic Animals Exhibit that houses three to five cats, with the objective to educate people about the difference between domestic animals and wildlife and tell them what animals are suitable as pets. Moreover, visitors can also adopt the young cat as all the cats here have been nurtured, vaccinated and have received fleas treatment. When we arrived at the main office, we met with another officer and he gave us lots of information about KWPLH’s operation while looking through their site plan. KWPLH primarily receives funding for management and running costs from the local government through Environmental Department in Balikpapan. Besides that, various other private and corporate organizations have also helped this centre through its development.

Ibu Eka (left), Gloria (middle) and another KWPLH’s officer (right) taking a group photo.

After spending more than five hours exploring KWPLH centre, finally it is time to say goodbye to the staff here. We really appreciate every single moment spent with the staffs. They were all very keen in sharing information and showing us around especially Ibu Eka. We learned many things here and we are happy that finally we managed to reach here after a long planning time. A big thank you to our CEO and Founder, Mr. Wong Siew Te for giving us the opportunity to visit this sun bear centre and the San Diego Zoo who has sponsored our trip. As we leave this centre, we saw many locals gathering together especially families with kids, having a picnic in the small gazebo, while the other school kids playing around in the lamin (longhouse style building). We will surely come here again in the future and hope that KWPLH will continue in their effort to educate the local people and raise awareness of the sun bear conservation and their habitat.

Mascot of Balikpapan: The Sun Bear!

YOU ARE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER

Hello everyone! My name is Fatin Amirah binti Ahmad Anuar, and called as Fatin here at BSBCC. I am currently an undergraduate Pure Biology student of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) branch of Sabah, Malaysia. BSBCC was my first volunteering work and wrapping up period of 2 months doing my internship, I have to admit that I had so much fun and a wonderful experience here, working with the staff and other fellow volunteers. To those who feel affection for nature and animals, I would like to highlight first that this is one of the places for you to spend some time if you have nothing in mind to do during your free time.

Sneak peak of the bear

Upon of my arrival at Sandakan Airport, the first person I met was Ronny, one of the staff at BSBCC, and looking back to the day where I met him, I remembered feeling welcome to do my internship here. I felt lucky as he made me feel assured that my upcoming days at the centre would be amusing and content. I do remember too that I apologized in advance for basically everything I will ever do in the future. I divulge that I was fragile on the first day at the centre. However, Chiew Lin May, the Research and Reintroduction Officer, slowly embraced me with her personality, and honestly speaking, her smile always makes my heart melt. Your heart feels warm when you see her, either when you are coming back from the bear house for a lunch break, or when all is done with your day volunteering. These were the same feelings I had with the bears. I felt welcomed by them every time I went to the bear house and to the feeding platform. They were all curious and active animals which make you too feel their energy, even on the days where you were not having a good rest. They were capable of making your heart flutter through their behavior, especially in the time they reached for their enrichment.

Speaking of which, some given to them could last for hours; advantageous for both sides, to the sun bears and to the staff here. To know whether enrichment is good enough or not for the sun bears, we see the time period they would play with it, which indirectly induces their natural behavior over time. One of the missions of BSBCC is to give these ex-captured, orphaned and saved bears a second chance, and release them back into the wild. Thus, it is important for the volunteers here to understand this goal and trying their best in providing the needs of the sun bears one by one to help the sun bears to be as close as possible to their natural environment.

View from the Door Entrance of BSBCC

Side-Left View before Entering Into the Ticketing Counter

 

I knew that I would love this place from the first moment I saw the big aquarium set up at the ticketing counter area. It was like a jackpot for me as I only came here to see the sun bears, however the founder, Mr Wong Siew Te seems to have so many interests and passion in his life, which is a really good thing for him, for the staff and for the people coming to the BSBCC. Besides getting to learn about the sun bears, I now acknowledge that I could learn about other things here too. Surely, this is not only about the sun bears, it is all about the nature systems and how we possibly could manage all of them together. To future volunteers, you would be amazed to see his mini library in his office, and the best part is that you are truly welcomed by him to read those books whenever you like. You too should not be surprised when you find him at the platform giving talks just like the other staff do every day. He certainly does have his own style in managing the centre and it is really cool for me to have such a boss.

Thye Lim once told me that being here was all about having a communication with each other especially if I were not certain about something regarding the sun bears. Do not assume, ask and ask. So guys, it is okay for you to ask and know as many as possible about the sun bears while you are volunteering here, and hopefully once you have finished, you could consign and spread the knowledge about these beautiful animals to your family and friends.

Enjoying one of the enrichments given by the staff and volunteers during feeding time

You will have many chances to see them on this position once you come here volunteering. Some of them would get excited and active by themselves, carrying out the given enrichment, showing through their behavior that they like it so much. Some were even asking for some more, and it was really cute to see them at that particular time. They have their own dietary menu, and as each sun bears have names, it is quite sure to know which one is which, thus it would not be confusing for us to serve them food and provide them with enrichments. Other than the different chest marks they have, we could too differentiate them from their physical appearances and behaviors. Damai would usually be the cleanest bear upon returning to the bear house every day, while Fulung would be found standing on its two hind legs most of the time whether it was out to the forest D enclosure or in the bear house. Seeing these two sun bears every day for 2 months were just enough for me to cheer up my day. I now believe that these animals could sense our emotions and thoughts.

Debbie

Damai (left) and Fulung (right) both standing on their hind legs

 

When it comes to their food routine, every day, each of the 37 bears would enjoy eating their mixed fruits and mixed vegetables prepared by the bear keepers, together with the volunteers at the bear house. They would too have their porridge twice per day, in the morning and in the evening.  I now learnt the correct way to make porridge for them thanks to Nick and Thye Lim who were both responsible in correcting me during the time I was at fault.

Volunteers are not allowed to handfeed them, but you could watch the bear keepers doing it for you. Rules and regulations lined by the BSBCC are all for the safety of the sun bears and for our own safety. There are always reasons why there are restriction areas at the BSBCC, for example, the quarantine facilities where all of 5 baby bears are located, including the male one which had arrived recently at the centre. Perfume, bright-colored attires are not encouraged as we might cause the sun bears to have unnecessary stress, which is not a good thing for them in a long term period. Ideas and suggestions from the volunteers regarding the building and enrichment for the sun bears are welcomed to be shared and discussed with staff and officers here, as long as your ideas are suitable and safe to be applied.

Joining Azzry and Thye Lim Setting Up Hot Wire

Hayley cutting off the bamboo in order to make one of the enrichments – bamboo feeder

 

The more you stay, the more you learn and the more you will have a better understanding regarding the sun bears. It is impossible for me to learn everything about the sun bears in one go, even if I wanted to. Therefore, I felt lucky enough to meet all of those staff willing to teach me various things during my period of placement; Azzry, Mizuno, Gloria, Reckley, Rizan, Rahim.

Having views about the sun bears at the verge of finishing my internship is fair enough for me, as I know I will have difficult time coming back to the centre for a second round, thus I am now sharing my present knowledge with my colleagues, university friends and my own family members. I am writing this as a way of contributing to the survival of the sun bear species. I hope there will be more efforts and scientific research done around the world in keeping this animal safe far from being hunted and killed for their paws and bile, for instance. Our people surely need to be educated more, and BSBCC is already on its right track through the ongoing talks and outreaching to people from place to place – including kindergartens.

Nick, Ami, Myself, Professor Hank and Dr. Scott

Rebeca, Fairo, Myself and the Supervisor, Thye Lim

Outside of the bear house; Mizuno, Harith, Lin May, Rica, Myself, Tom and Azzry

 

Therefore, for all of the wonderful experience and knowledge gained, I wish to acknowledge Mr Wong for giving me the chance to be here. I hope you will always have that bountiful spirit in yourself for the sake of the sun bears. To my supervisor, Thye Lim who has been helping me a lot and being more like a friend to me rather than a supervisor. I really appreciate that.  Profound thanks to other volunteers ;Ying Yi, See Toh, Rica, Tom, Ami, Nicholas, Austin, Amanda, Mark, Harith, Caitlyn, Hayley, to both Emmas that were both volunteering at the time, and all 17 staff for filling my days with joy. There is no greater pleasure for me in spending time with all of you guys. I wish to thank for your help while we were all working together and these moments we went through together will surely be memorable for me.

The Founder & CEO of BSBCC

 

We better learn to show appreciation from now on, or we would not have anything to appreciate in future. Come and try it by yourself. You will know how it feels helping these cute animals to have a better home and restoring their second chance to live in the wild. Thank you.

 

 

We Are Hiring!

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre wishes to invite highly motivated and dedicated candidates to join us for the following career opportunities:

A) BSBCC Accounts Clerk – 1 Post

1. Minimum Certificate (Diploma/Degree are considerable) in Accountancy / Book-keeping / Finance / Banking or Business,
2. At least 3 years of experience in preparing monthly / annual accounts, preparation of financial statement, budgets, tax report & calculations, stock monitoring report, payment preparation and other necessary duties,
3. Experienced in handling scheduled payment arrangement such as taxation, insurance, EPF and SOCSO either with the authorities or banks/agents,
4. Able to use computer for any reports and letters preparation,
5. Able to communicate confidently and cooperate with all people within the centre, such as internally or externally,
6. Able to work independently and as a team, including on weekend or public holiday and outside normal office hours if needed,
7. Valid B2 or D driving license, and
8. Willing to do any other assignment (ad-hoc) as and when required

For those interested, please submit your details personal particular, academic qualifications, working experience, current & expected salary and latest picture to our email, info.bsbcc@gmail.com with title ‘Application of Job Vacancy’ before 16th March 2015. ONLY SHORTLISTED CANDIDATE WILL BE INTERVIEWED.

A) Kerani Akaun BSBCC – 1 Kekosongan

Kelayakan:

1. Memiliki sekurang-kurangnya Sijil/Diploma di dalam bidang Perakaunan / Simpan-Kira / Kewangan / Perbankan ataupun Perniagaan,
2. Minimum 3 tahun pengalaman di dalam penyediaan laporan kewangan bulanan / tahunan, penyediaan penyata kewangan, belanjawan, pengiraan cukai dan laporan, memantau laporan stok barangan, penyediaan bayaran dan perkara-perkara yang berkaitan,
3. Berpengalaman di dalam mengurus hal-hal pembayaran berkala seperti percukaian, insuran, KWSP, Perkeso sama ada dengan pihak berkuasa tempatan ataupun pihak bank/ejen,
4. Mahir menggunakan computer untuk penyediaan laporan dan surat-menyurat,
5. Boleh berkomunikasi dengan yakin dan bekerjasama dengan semua pihak di BSBCC, sama ada di dalam atau di luar pusat,
6. Mampu bekerja berdikari dan bekerjasama dalam pasukan, termasuk pada hujung minggu dan di luar masa bekerja bila di kehendaki,
7. Mempunyai lesen memandu yang sah bagi kelas B dan D, dan
8.Melakukan apa-apa kerja yang di kehendaki pada bila-bila masa di perlukan.

Kepada yang berminat, sila hantarkan maklumat peribadi, kelayakan akademik, pengalaman kerja, gaji sekarang dan gaji di pohon beserta gambar terkini ke emel info.bsbcc@gmail.com sebelum 16hb March 2015. HANYA CALON YANG DI SENARAI-PENDEK SAHAJA AKAN DI PANGGIL UNTUK TEMUDUGA.

Fun times at BSBCC!

Hi, my name is Emma Hambleton, I am a third year environmental science student at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia and I was fortunate enough to have my first volunteering experience at BSBCC in January 2015 with fellow USC students Caitlyn Turner and Hayley Beck.

Myself, Hayley, Azzry & Caitlyn at the water cascade

Feeling excited but nervous to be leaving Australia I couldn’t wait for my BSBCC volunteering experience to begin.  Arriving in Borneo was a sense of the unknown, where I knew very little about sun bears to begin with and didn’t know what to expect in terms of what Borneo was going to be like.  Our first day at BSBCC was on Monday 12th January 2015.  We were first introduced to BSBCC founder and CEO, Wong Siew Te, we had a chat with him before being introduced to Nick who gave us a thorough introduction to BSBCC.  We then had our first sun bear observing experience – so beautiful!!

Feeding time for the bears

Our first two weeks at BSBCC consisted of us working around the visitors by either working at the observation platform with other staff or in the information booth.  The first few days at the platform gave us the opportunity to learn about the sun bears by listening to the staff talk to the visitors and, by asking them questions.  After a couple of days of listening and learning about sun bears, we then spoke to visitors and answered any questions that they may have had about the bears.  This helped us to retain the knowledge we had gained and by passing our knowledge on to visitors, it is hoped that they too would spread the word about sun bear conservation.

Mary relaxing in the rain

Our time in the information booth was spent informing visitors about different devices that are used to track bears, entertain bears (such as enrichment toys), or showing visitors pictures of the behaviour of sun bears who had previously been kept in cages as pets.  Talking to the visitors was somewhat nerve-racking at first, given the fact that I didn’t know much at all about sun bears before arriving in Borneo.  However, after a while, it became a lot easier as I was continuously learning more about sun bears, which then made me more comfortable answering questions from visitors.  I particularly liked working at the observation platform as we got to observe the sun bears and watch them as they played, slept, ate or roamed around in a natural setting.

Damai patiently waiting for her food

I was super excited in the third week of our stay, which was when we started working in the bear house!  There was never a dull moment.  We would begin the day by feeding the bears their porridge which was always fun/interesting watching the bears eagerly await their breakfast.  After we cleaned the bears’ trays we began cleaning the cages.  Being so close to the sun bears was pretty cool as some tended to watch you as you cleaned the cage beside them.  For instance, the very first cage that I cleaned I left my bucket a little too close to Julaini’s cage and Julaini stole the bucket which was a shock at first. After Julaini had the bucket taken off him I could see Julaini’s sharp claws trying to grab my broom through the cage, this happened most days that I cleaned the cage beside him which made me laugh and I could sense Julaini’s playful personality so it’s safe to say Julaini became one of my favourites because of that.

Fulung standing on his two hind legs waiting to be fed

After cage cleaning we got to feed the bears in the indoor enclosures which was always fun and interesting to see that, like humans, most of the sun bears didn’t eat banana peel, the green part of watermelon or the skin on any other fruit.  It was cute seeing particular bears eating mannerisms, like the way Sigalung would lay on his back while he ate his fruit.  Once the bears in the bear house were fed we would go and feed the bears in the outside enclosures.  Fulung was usually the first bear we saw as he walked up the hill alongside us most days and would stand on his two hind legs like a human, waiting for his food – so cute!  My favourite days would have to be coconut days.  It amazed me to see how these strong little sun bears could open a coconut from the husk to the inside. This just showed how sharp and strong their teeth and claws are.

Mary casually enjoying her coconut

Two besties having their sugar cane

During the afternoon we usually made enrichment for the bears, which was fun, and good exercise, actually getting the materials we needed.  We went for a few separate adventures up the road to collect banana leaves, dry leaves, bamboo, and through the forest to collect termite nests for the sun bears.  Within the two weeks working in the bear house we made nest balls, burgers, bamboo enrichment, and we found termite nests for the bears which usually entertained the bears for around 15-30 minutes.  I loved giving enrichment to the bears, particularly the bears that are not released into outdoor enclosures every day as it gave them something to pass the time away and it also gave them a sense of the wild by doing activities they would typically do in the wild, such as eating termite nests.  This also helped to stop typical sun bear behaviour of pacing or regurgitating for a short time.  It was always fun creating the enrichment as it also gave us time to hear Azzry’s (bear keeper) entertaining stories and jokes as we made the enrichment.  Our time working with Azzry was always entertaining from riding down the hill on an old trolley with 31 coconuts on board for the bears, to having bamboo sawing competitions, to his casual attitude about leeches.  Azzry’s famous quote “it’s onnnlyyy a leech”, are words I’ll never forget.

Azzry driving us back to the bear house on the trolley with the coconuts

The two main highlights of my BSBCC experience were working in the bear house where we were able to get close to the bears, but not too close, by feeding them, cleaning their cages, and giving them enrichment.  Working in the bear house was also the best way to learn each of the sun bears’ different, cute and loveable personalities such as; pretty girl Manis who would stand at the front of her cage with her head resting on her hands after she had finished her food, how Kudat would lie sprawled out with his paws hanging out under the bottom of his cage, how big boy Lingam rested his head on his hands while he watched people walk past from his hammock, how Natalie would watch your every move as you walked past her with food in hand or try and grab banana leaves out of your hand if you weren’t quick enough putting/placing them in her cage, or even the cutest little Mary who would cling to the cage while patiently waiting for her banana leaves in the afternoon – so cute! I could go on forever they are all so adorable and cute!

Although they are so adorable and cute I had to remind myself on several occasions not to get too attached to the bears as they are in there to be rehabilitated and hopefully released back into the wild, so it is a bittersweet feeling knowing that when I do go back next time some of the bears would have been released.

Jelita which means beautiful in Malay – such a fitting name for this sun bear

Kuamut playing around in the sticks

The second highlight was working with the staff at BSBCC, they are all the nicest, funniest, kindest, most knowledgeable, helpful, patient and friendliest people you will ever meet.  Everyone at the centre was so welcoming.  It was awesome to see how dedicated Wong and his staff at BSBCC are in rehabilitating the sun bears for their release back into the wild.

It is safe to say that my time volunteering at BSBCC will definitely not be forgotten and I feel so lucky to have been able to do this as part of my university degree thanks to BSBCC and USC.  I had so much fun working with the BSBCC staff and fellow volunteers Amanda, Caitlyn, Fatin and Hayley.  It is a rewarding feeling knowing that we’ve played a slight role in helping these beautiful animals get back out into the wild, or by at least informing others of the current sun bear situation and creating awareness. I would encourage anybody thinking about volunteering at BSBCC to start filling out their application now, it will be an experience you will never forget! I learnt so much in the month that I was at BSBCC and had the time of my life working with everyone at the centre and working so closely to the bears.  It was hard saying goodbye to each and every one of the sun bears and staff at BSBCC. Thanks to Wong and all the staff at BSBCC for giving me such an amazing BSBCC experience!

Walking to our last day of volunteering at BSBCC – we were all crying on the inside

 

The Best Sun Bear Conservation Crew and an incredible experience

My name is Caitlyn Turner and I am a 4th year Environmental Science student from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. My sun bear experience was shared with two other Environmental students from my university called Hayley and Emma. Our work placement at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) lasted a total of 4 weeks. Before applying for this work placement I had no idea what the situation with the sun bears was like. After spending a month working with the centre staff and the bears, I have learnt a great amount about the species and their importance in the world.

Our journey to Borneo first began on the plane trip over where we had no idea what to expect. I remember feeling nervous, anxious, and extremely excited. When we reached Sandakan it was like we had gone to an entirely different world. Going from living so close to the beach to entirely jungle was going to be a new experience. After leaving the airport we were driven to our accommodation by a taxi driver whom spoke little to no English. This was the second sign that we were no longer in a country like our own and it would be a good time to learn some Malay. When we reached our accommodation at the Sepilok Jungle Resort we were kindly welcomed by the resort staff and were checked-in to our resort room. Our room was simple, but it was perfect for the 3 of us.

The day after arriving we were into our induction at the BSBCC. We had no idea what we would be doing whilst there so we were all very curious and excited to begin. For our first day we were welcomed by the founder and CEO of the centre, Wong. He then left us in the capable hands of another staff member called Nick who kindly guided us through the centre and the bear houses. He explained everything to us and even treated us to a trip to the Orang utan Rehabilitation Centre in the afternoon. Our day at the centre finished with another staff member called Thye Lim giving a presentation which taught us a great deal about the sun bears. It was great being able to learn so much that early in the experience.

The next two weeks of our placement was spent helping out in the visitor centre. We spent our time here and not working in the bear houses as there were 3 interns also volunteering at the centre at this time. Even though we were keen to work with the sun bears it was a good chance for us to learn as much as possible about the bears before getting to experience them close up. Working on the observation platform and talking to visitors at the education booth was definitely a benefit as it allowed us to not only learn more about the bears but we got to teach others about them also. It felt great being able to educate people about the sun bears and to encourage them to support such an amazing conservation project. I think by spending the first 2 weeks doing these jobs I started to become truly passionate about the need for sun bear conservation and it made me determined to inform people about them as much as I could. My time in the centre also allowed me to make a number of wonderful friends with the visitor centre staff and most importantly it was the beginning to the 3 of us feeling like we were part of the team.

My favourite part of each day for the first two weeks was working on the platform. I never knew what I would see or end up learning each day. I remember meeting the cheeky macaques for the first time and at first I thought they were cute but I was soon to learn they are mischievous and dangerous. Lester, one of the centre’s staff, was generally called when there was a monkey problem and it always made me laugh to watch him chase them away. One of the days when coconuts were being given to the bears’ for their afternoon food, there was a macaque which climbed up a tree with one of the large coconuts. It was quite amusing as the coconut could not be opened so he got bored very quickly and dropped it back to the ground. Speaking of coconuts, another favourite of mine was coconut day as the bears are absolutely amazing at tearing the shell apart. Each bear is different with its coconut opening method, for example, some throw the coconut on the ground, others try to tap a hole into it, and others (i.e. Mary) patiently wait for another bear to open it and steal it from them.

When the 3rd week came around we were beyond prepared to work in the bear house. On our first day we were introduced to a new set of rules which were explained by Thye Lim. Then once the basics were understood we were into the hard work. The physical work inside and outside the bear house was explained by a staff member called Azzry. He guided us through everything we would be doing and even helped by making jokes about tasks so we weren’t as nervous. The daily routine was usually an outdoor pen check, clean the enclosures, morning feed out, prepare porridge, afternoon feed out, prepare enrichment and the disperse it to the bears, and finally the evening feed out with porridge and banana leaves. Even though the routine sounds like it would be repetitive, it really wasn’t. Each day I was excited as to what we were going to prepare for enrichment or what we would be giving the bears to eat. I can honestly say there was never a boring day at the bear house.

From our very first day to our last day we were treated with the utter-most kindness and it was like we were part of the BSBCC team. When we were leaving the centre to return to Australia I knew with certainty that I would be coming back to volunteer in the future. This experience has been incredible and I’d like to thank the entire BSBCC team for making the 3 of us feel very welcome and for making our time at the centre one we will never forget. All the staff at the centre were extremely friendly and I couldn’t think of a greater team of people to work with. Thank you.

The Experience of a Life Time!

Test and Photos by Hayley Beck

Upon arriving in Sepilok, I had no idea what to expect of the centre or the sort of activities I was to participate in. Caitlyn, Emma and myself heard about this amazing opportunity through our university, the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia; and all three of us jumped at the idea of being able to work so closely with a species we all knew so little about.

A welcome sign at the Sepilok Jungle Resort

On our first day at the centre, we met Wong (CEO and Founder of BSBCC), who gave us a little introduction to the centre before passing us over to Nick, who showed us around the centre and got us familiar with the sun bears, the staff, the activities we would be involved in and the rules associated with these activities.

Working up on the observation platform, it was amazing to see these beautiful sun bears up close! I was able to learn so much about the sun bears through talking to the staff at the centre, and hearing them talk to the visitors about the sun bears. Once I had learnt a lot about the bears, I was then able to relay the information to other visitors. It was a very rewarding feeling, knowing that by informing others about the sun bears, I was helping to encourage more people to do their best to help out with the conservation and preservation of this amazing species.

Debbie flaunting her gorgeous chest mark

Whilst working in the bear house (not accessible to public), there was a strict rule that no one was allowed to touch the sun bears. Seeing them close up, it was very obvious why that rule had been implemented! These sun bears were wild animals, with exceptionally large claws and teeth. The more human contact the bears had, the less chance they had to survive independently back out in the wild (which is the ultimate goal at BSBCC). So even though they looked so cute and cuddly, we restrained ourselves from giving them a pat!

Each day, we would clean the sun bear’s cages, cook them porridge, cut them up some fruit and vegetables, and feed the bears in the bear house as well as the bears out in the forest enclosures. In the afternoons, we would spend time forging for banana leaves, bamboo, termite nests, or anything else that the bears would be able to use as an enrichment toy to keep their minds mentally stimulated. One of my favourite enrichment activities to prepare was the bamboo feeder, in which we chopped up some bamboo trunks (not as easy as it sounds!) and placed some bananas and leaves in the middle of them for the bears to rip out. This activity was able to preoccupy the bears for about 15-30min.

Azzry looking like a god whilst showing off his bamboo feeder skills

The only obstacle I faced throughout my stay was the leeches! Before arriving at the centre, I never imagined there would be so many leeches. Fortunately the staffs were more than experienced at getting rid of leeches, and were more than happy to help me with any leeches I had; although Azzry did try to make me overcome my fear of leeches by walking through as much forest area as possible – thanks buddy.

An evil tiger leech attached to another volunteers camera bag

One of my favourite activities working in the bear house each day was placing banana leaves all around the bear’s cages for them to find. After the sun bears eat their porridge, many of them tend to regurgitate their food back up to then eat it again. Often, the sun bear will regurgitate on their own body (arms, legs, stomach etc.) and lick it off themselves. Regurgitation is a stereotypical behaviour of the sun bears when they feel either bored or stressed out. Doing this each day results in bald spots along the bears body. So by placing the banana leaves around the cages, the sun bears then have an activity to preoccupy themselves with, and hopefully wear them out quicker – resulting in no (or less) regurgitation time. It was amazing to see how capable the bears are in climbing around their cages searching for the leaves – some would even happily hang off the roof!

Fulung is such a curious sun bear

After four weeks at BSBCC, I was able to learn so much! Not just about the sun bears as a species, but also about each individual sun bear. Every bear at the centre has its own diverse personality and background. It was amazing knowing more about them, and knowing that volunteering at the centre each day meant that I was helping out just that little bit extra towards their rehabilitation. I intend to spread the word about BSBCC to all my friends and family; it was really one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I have no doubt that I will be back again in the near future to continue volunteering. A HUGE thank you to Wong and all the staff at BSBCC for making us all feel so welcome, and allowing us to enjoy the opportunity of a life time! You all made my time in Sepilok absolutely unforgettable!

Driving to the airport to return home – we are not as happy as we look, trust me!

Second Time Around

Goofy shots with the BSBCC Staffs (Photo by Thye Lim)

Hi, my name is Amanda Shia and I am from Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. I am currently an undergraduate Zoology student in University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). About two years ago, I had my first volunteer experience in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) before entering university and I decided to participate in volunteering here again during my semester break.

Two years had passed; I could definitely see how much this centre has progressed and still continues to develop. For one, the bear house has expanded into two indoors space. This gives more space for more bears to be placed in. Previously, the centre had 27 rescued sun bears. Currently, it has 37 sun bears included three that just arrived recently. The rise of rescued sun bears can be a concerning issue as well as a good insight. It is an alarming issue that the illegal poaching activities as well as keeping these wild animals as pets are truly happening here in our state of Sabah. Albeit so, it shed a light on the fact that the more bears there are taken in to be cared and conserved, the better their future is sustained in wildlife.

Most importantly, it is officially opened to public since last year! That one little office I once remembered has now been renovated into a bigger building; scaffolding a counter/gift shop entrance, office and quarantine facility area.  Stretched from entrance of the door lays a platform which gives opportunities for the visitors to observe the sun bears in the forest enclosure. To coincide to that, more bears are released at the forest enclosures. Visitors are able to see sun bears being just the way they naturally are; foraging for food, integrate with one another, being agile climbers, digging and clawing. I was moved when visitors coming from all sorts of countries and locals were awed at the existence of the small bears right in front of their eyes. I am forever in awe of how the bears are still the same as they were back then with their unique personalities. Mary being the usual Mary when she sits up uses two of her paws to hold up the feed to eat. Damai who I once remember used to be a small cub now have grown big and likes to rest on top of trees. Yet, it has come to a concern that locals are not aware that the land of Borneo has sun bears that has been classified as endangered and protected species, let alone knowing it existed in first place. In long run, I believed this centre will able to change that with the constant education and endless supply of information to the public; this includes the schools.

The platform with boards of information about the bears.

BSBCC Founder and CEO Mr Wong Siew Te answering questions by university students with full compassion and concerns of the bears.

With more sun bears, comes with more responsibility. Aside from the rise of more staffs to take on to jobs and organizing the flow of company, the tasks on working around the sun bears gets more handy as well. The daily routine of cleaning the cages, preparing food in the kitchen, feeding the bears and making enrichments got amplified! Making enrichments is fun and to be looked forward on because that is when we get handy and basically get everything we can get our hands on to create something for the bears. We went deep into the forest to find termite nests, raked dried leaves on the roadside, collected banana leaves and also chopping bamboo trees. It was an adventure just to get them all! The staffs ensure that all the bears get the welfare they needed. I liked how systematically we are all assigned to different tasks day to day, in order to experience all of them. I am pretty much appalled if one man is able to do it all.

Azzry assisting Hayley and Fatin on making enrichments for the bears.

Working with the staffs that are ever-ready, committed, friendly and passionate made volunteering a thing I don’t mind to do relentlessly. Therefore, I would like to personally thank each and every staffs of BSBCC for your kindness and warmth; being such a sport to us. Besides, I get to work alongside with other volunteers and an intern. I had a grand time knowing Emma, Caitlyn, Hayley and Fatin. It was a joy to work together as well as the fun of going through forest trails on some days and got ‘hitchhiked’ by leeches along the way. For two weeks I have been there was made worthwhile with them.

Us volunteers with David the Bear Keeper (Taken by Azzry)

Smiles after a long trail

Lead by Azzry, on a bridge at the Water Cascade Trail

My perceptions on managing a conservation centre have expanded. It is not an easy task; as I can see how much the centre is still need time for more improvements. But the centre is lucky to have dedicated and passionate staffs that will continue to improve as well as expanding the facilities best suit for the sun bears, welcoming more sun bears that are rescued from being served neither as a pet nor as a meal on a dining table. The centre is doing the best they can to reintroducing the sun bears to their natural life style, by being in the wild. From the bears behaviour and ease of adapting in the forest enclosure, I can see the bears will have a chance of experiencing a bright future.

Mary on the tree!

Kuamut behind a tree

 

It was unfortunate I am not going to be around when the time comes for them to release one of the bears into the wild, but my greatest wishes goes out to all of them. I urge animal lovers out there to take a step of doing something to help the bears! It does not have to be in money form, it can be in your participation as a volunteer – to see how they work on taking care of the bears and learn that they prepare variety of enrichments for the bears so they can utilise their habitual skills. If you have the time, keen to learn and help, up for strenuous challenges – this place is for you.

WE ARE HIRING!

MALAYSIANS ONLY

1. BEAR KEEPER – 1 Post

 BSBCC Bear Keeper Job Description

Bear keepers play an extremely important role in BSBCC in achieving our missions:

Creating the capacity to confiscate, rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild and providing an improved long-term living environment for captive bears that cannot be released.

If you love animal and enjoy being meeting people who have the same passion as you and being proactive, this could be just what you are looking for.

To become a bear keeper, you will need to have confidence and patience when working with animals, and you are responsible for the wellbeing of the bears in BSBCC. A bear keeper must follow very specific instructions for every single bear.

Requirements to join BSBCC as a bear keeper will be:

  1. Animal lovers, and passionate in animal care,
  2. Malaysian Mykad holder,
  3. Minimum SPM with credit in English,
  4. Have a valid driving license (Class D),
  5. Able to work in the forest/jungle,
  6. Able to work during weekend and outside office hours if needed,
  7. Able to work independent and as a team, and
  8. Work according to schedule set by Supervisor,

Job scope of bear keeper included:

  1. Cleaning bear living spaces, cages and enclosure,
  2. Preparing food for the bear,
  3. Design/Making enrichment for the bear,
  4. Monitoring the bears and making sure they do not become sick or injured,
  5. Behaviour observation, record, and writing report, and
  6. Supervising and training volunteer (Able to speak in English would be an advantage).

2. ACCOUNTS CLERK – 1 Post

  1. Minimum Certificate (Diploma/Degree are considerable) in Accountancy / Book-keeping / Finance / Banking or Business,
  2. At least 3 years of experience in preparing monthly / annual accounts, preparation of financial statement, budgets, tax report & calculations, stock monitoring report, payment preparation and other necessary duties,
  3. Experienced in handling scheduled payment arrangement such as taxation, insurance, EPF and SOCSO either with the authorities or banks/agents,
  4. Able to use computer for any reports and letters preparation,
  5. Able to communicate confidently and cooperate with all people within the centre, such as internally or externally,
  6. Able to work independently and as a team, including on weekend or public holiday and outside normal office hours if needed,
  7. Valid B2 or D driving license, and
  8. Willing to do any other assignment (ad-hoc) as and when required

For those interested, please submit your details personal particular, academic qualifications, working experience, current & expected salary and latest picture to our email, info.bsbcc@gmail.com with title ‘Application of Job Vacancy’ before 10th February 2015.

ONLY SHORTLISTED CANDIDATE WILL BE CALLED FOR INTERVIEWED.

Jawatan Kosong

WARGANEGARA MALAYSIA SAHAJA

1. PENJAGA BERUANG – 1 Kekosongan

Penerangan Tatakerja Penjaga Beruang

Penjaga beruang memainkan peranan yang penting di dalam memastikan BSBCC mencapai misi penubuhannya.

Mewujudkan kapasiti untuk menyelamat, memulihara dan memberi peluang kepada anak beruang dan bekas beruang yang pernah berada di dalam peliharaan manusia untuk kembali ke hutan dan menyediakan persekitaran kitar hidup yang sepatutnya bagi beruang yang tidak dapat di lepaskan ke alam kehidupan semula jadi.

Jika anda seorang yang mencintai haiwan dan berminat untuk bertemu dengan orang yang mempunyai minat dan kecenderungan yang sama seperti anda dan proaktif, ini mungkin merupakan apa yang anda cari:

Untuk menjadi penjaga beruang, anda mestilah sentiasa yakin dan bersabar setiap masa, dan bertanggungjawab untuk menjaga kebajikan semua beruang yang ada di BSBCC. Seorang penjaga beruang harus mematuhi setiap perincian arahan yang di buat bagi setiap ekor beruang.

Keperluan untuk menjadi penjaga beruang di BSBCC adalah seperti berikut:

  1. Menyukai haiwan dan mempunyai semangat di dalam hal kebajikan haiwan,
  2. Warganegara tempatan / memiliki Mykad,
  3. Minimum SPM dengan keputusan kredit di dalam Bahasa Inggeris,
  4. Mempunyai lesen memandu yang sah (kelas D),
  5. Boleh bekerja di dalam hutan,
  6. Boleh bekerja pada hujung minggu dan di luar masa bekerja bila di perlukan,
  7. Boleh bekerja dengan pengawasan yang minima dan dalam pasukan, dan
  8. Bekerja mengikut jadual yang di tetapkan oleh penyelia.

Skop kerja bagi penjaga beruang adalah seperti berikut:

  1. Membersihkan kawasan tempat peninggalan, ruang hutan lepasan beruang.
  2. Penyediaan makanan beruang,
  3. Membuat/menyediakan mainan pengkayaan bagi beruang,
  4. Membuat pemantauan keadaan beruang agar tidak jatuh sakit atau cedera,
  5. Membuat pemerhatian ke atas perangai beruang, merekod dan membuat laporan, dan
  6. Menyelia dan melatih sukarelawan (mampu berkomunikasi dalam Bahasa Inggeris adalah satu kelebihan)

 

2. KERANI AKAUN – 1 Kekosongan

Kelayakan:

  1. Memiliki sekurang-kurangnya Sijil/Diploma di dalam bidang Perakaunan / Simpan-Kira / Kewangan / Perbankan ataupun Perniagaan,
  2. Minimum 3 tahun pengalaman di dalam penyediaan laporan kewangan bulanan / tahunan, penyediaan penyata kewangan, belanjawan, pengiraan cukai dan laporan, memantau laporan stok barangan, penyediaan bayaran dan perkara-perkara yang berkaitan,
  3. Berpengalaman di dalam mengurus hal-hal pembayaran berkala seperti percukaian, insuran, KWSP, Perkeso sama ada dengan pihak berkuasa tempatan ataupun pihak bank/ejen,
  4. Mahir menggunakan computer untuk penyediaan laporan dan surat-menyurat,
  5. Boleh berkomunikasi dengan yakin dan bekerjasama dengan semua pihak di BSBCC, sama ada di dalam atau di luar pusat,
  6. Mampu bekerja berdikari dan bekerjasama dalam pasukan, termasuk pada hujung minggu dan di luar masa bekerja bila di kehendaki,
  7. Mempunyai lesen memandu yang sah bagi kelas B dan D, dan
  8. Melakukan apa-apa kerja yang di kehendaki pada bila-bila masa di perlukan.

Kepada yang berminat, sila hantarkan maklumat peribadi, kelayakan akademik, pengalaman kerja, gaji sekarang dan gaji di pohon beserta gambar terkini ke emel info.bsbcc@gmail.com sebelum 10hb  Februari 2015.

HANYA CALON YANG DI SENARAI-PENDEK SAHAJA AKAN DI PANGGIL UNTUK TEMUDUGA.