A day to remember

Text by Nick Tan (with reference to Buletin Mutiara)
Photos from Wong Siew Te

In conjunction with the Penang Governer’s recent birthday celebrations, some top civil servants were recognised for their contrbutions to the civil service. Among the list, there were Tan Sri Dr. Ali Bin Hamsa, Chief Secretary to the Government who received Darjah Utama Pangkuan Negeri (DUPN), CEO of Tah Wah Group Sdn Bhd, Dato’ Hong Yeam Wah, who received Darjah Yang Mulia Pangkuan Negeri (DMPN) and Datuk Ng Wee Kok who had served three Chief Ministers in his capacity as Senior Private Secretary and others.

Many were awarded for their contributions to the society and the environment. One of them was Mr. Wong Siew Te, CEO and founder of our centre. Congratulations Wong! Your  countless efforts have not been in vain.

Wong receiving the Darjah Johan Negeri (DJN) Award Order

Wong receiving the Darjah Johan Negeri (DJN) Award Order

This Order was instituted in 1969 and conferred on individuals who have contributed outstanding services in any field. This award is limited to one thousand one hundred and fifty living persons, excluding non-Malaysians who may be conferred this award on an honorary basis.

Wong inside the Dewan Istiadat (Royal Hall)

Wong inside the Dewan Istiadat (Royal Hall)

Enthusiastic Wong shared with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng about sun bears and his conservation effort in saving them.

“In 1994, I went to University of Montana to seek a dream that was considered a ‘difficult task’ for many people from ordinary Asian families. The dream, which put me on the right track of my career, was to pursue a bachelor degree in Wildlife biology,” recalled Penangite Wong.

Wong having a picture taken with Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng

Wong having a picture taken with Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng

More news article (in Chinese) can be found here.

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Sin Chew Daily (????),  26th September 2014

Sandakan Adventure start with BSBCC

Text by Wong Wai Ying

Welcome to Sandakan!!!

This is the first time for me to travel alone, step into Borneo for volunteer work in BSBCC. There are a lot of people curious about what is sun bear, what you going to do with these bear? Well, here is the reason for me to experience it and introduce these cute bear to everyone.


Back to nature always is my wish.

<span “font-size:11.0pt;line-height:=”” 115%;font-family:”calibri”,”sans-serif”;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-fareast-font-family:simsun;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;mso-hansi-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;=”” mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:zh-cn;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>On 11 October 2014, a warm welcoming from my friends Thye Lim and Lin May who I didn’t meet up for last 3 years. They gave me a brief intro of BSBCC and we start up the day by preparing sun bear’s food for the whole days. Although sun bear is the smallest size in bear species, however they have a good appetite. We need to prepare porridge, fruits (Banana, Papaya, Langsat, and Salak), and vegetables (Sugar cane and sweet potato) with different portion for daily basis diet requirement of 35 bears. Coconut and honey drinks are their favourite foods.

Porridge with eggs

 

First eyes on sun bear, they are so special. Each of them has their own chest mark, behaviours and personalities. Why they are suckling, pasing, tapping and regurgitation all can be explained by experience staff. This is why BSBCC staffs, bear keepers and volunteer who stay long at centre be able to recognize the sun bear even from far distance. I’m no exception. Feeding time is the best way to get closer and recognize them. Until the last day of my duty, I’m able to recognize more than half of the sun bears’ name in the bear house.

Feeding time! Damai was suckling its own paw

David and Azzry (photographer) were the one scattered the fruit for sun bear with me.

BSBCC give the best effort in conserving sun bear. Most of the bear here were rescued from poacher where they kept in cage since young for display purpose, pets or even almost become a plate of dish. However, with the cares that provided by bear keeper, all the sun bear grow healthy and are trained to be survived in natural environment. Different designed of food enrichment (slot fruit inside the bamboo; put honey inside the Aussie Dog Ball) and cage enrichment trains the sun bear in food scratching and tree climbing. What amazes me is the way they peel off the coconut for drinking and taste on the fresh of coconut. Ronnie, one of the adult sun bear peel off the coconut just within 20 seconds. It really stunned me for a moment.

According to Azzry, making hammock is another way to train me becomes a strong women (=, =)!!!

In the bear house, we are not supposedly having a close distance with the sun bear as it might dangerous in an unknown condition. However, I’m so lucky that being able to witnessed Chin, a female sun bear moved from quarantine to bear house and joining with others in this big family. All the bear staff cooperate with each other, did a health check for Chin, before it really release and let it adapt to this new environment. For time being, Chin no longer feels aggressive with keeper and its new friends. She needs to pass through the test on electric fencing before release to outside world and interact with others sun bear.


During leisure time, I had the chance followed Mr. Wong and Fairo went to nearest waterfall to catch fish for aquarium project in the centre. Such a long time didn’t go for jungle trekking and this really makes me feel excited. Along the trails towards the destiny, we saw a lot of termites’ nests with different shape and a lot of stations to spot the Borneo bird species.

Termite’s nest

Sabah on the island of Borneo is well-known with the beauty of natural environment with relatively accessible wildlife animals. Others than sun bear, I had saw orang utan in Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre walk around, how the long-tail macaque grab the food from sun bear, chased by 9 months old pygmy elephant, saw a red giant flying squirrel gliding from one tree to another tree at Rainforest Discovery Centre, orchid praying mantis that caught by Nick, and a bundle of pill millipedes. During the Kinabatangan river cruise, more and more wildlife species can be found at here. In the late afternoon and early morning, we saw proboscis monkeys, basking monitor lizard, pig-tailed macaques, crocodile, mangrove snake, hornbills, and other birds’ species.

There are few Orang Utan free-roaming in the centre.

Found this grasshopper during banana leaves collection.

Long-tailed macaque

Ochid praying mantis

2 weeks passed and my volunteering work had come to the end. It’s hard for me to say goodbye. Staying at BSBCC really make me learn a lot. Working experience and knowledge that gained over here are can’t buy with money. Conservation work for animal is not an easy job and a lot of people do not understand how important it should be done for future generation. However, Wong and BSBCC team set up a fine example in sun bear conservation path to all of us. He is a father and also a life-guard for all sun bears. Therefore, no matter whom you are where you come from, if you have the wish to make a change for sun bear and your own, here is the place. All the hard work that you contribute is really paid off.

 

Thank you everyone!!!

I do appreciate everything from deep of my heart. Wish you guys all the best and keep moving on. Sun bear need you guys. So work with passion and dreams come not so far.

 

It’s my pleasure when took photo with the core person of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).

With my BUDDY at Kinabatangan River Cruise^^

How One Man is Saving The Rare Bornean Sun Bear

Jacada Travel, 27th October 2014

By Lauren Hill

Amidst the lush rainforest of Sabah, orangutans swing through the forest canopy, hornbills sail overhead and Borneo’s distinctive Proboscis monkeys congregate by the riverbanks. But there’s a far less known endemic species that’s recently been receiving more attention, thanks to the opening of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, founded by conservationist Wong Siew Te.
“Sun Bears are such a special animal from head to toe,” Wong says passionately, “When I build up a relationship with our rescued orphan sun bear cubs, they trust me 100 percent and treat me like their real mother. This feeling is so precious, yet very sad for the bears.”

“SUN BEARS ARE SUCH A SPECIAL ANIMAL FROM HEAD TO TOE. WHEN I BUILD UP A RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR RESCUED ORPHAN SUN BEAR CUBS, THEY TRUST ME 100 PERCENT.”

Hailing from Malaysia, Wong first became interested in sun bears while studying at university in the United States, so on returning to his home country he started to undertake his own fieldwork on the nation’s rare sun bears. It was at this time that Wong realised the importance of protecting this species.
“I learned that many sun bears were being kept in captivity,” he explains, “all of these captive sun bears suffered tremendously. I felt their stress and fear when I saw them locked in small cages. I felt so sorry for these animals and became concerned with their welfare and future.”

Over in Sabah, Wong set out to create a charity and conservation centre that could protect Borneo’s endemic sun bear.

Overcoming the challenges of funding such a big project, Wong founded the conservation centre alongside the neighbouring Sepilok orangutan sanctuary, and since January 2014 it has been open to the public.

“When we’re walking the rescued orphaned sun bear cubs in the forest, we act like their mothers. They trust us with all of their heart and are totally dependent on us for their future. I often say to myself, what could be more meaningful than helping these poor little creatures.”

The centre focuses on the welfare of the rescued sun bears, and the bears’ eventual rehabilitation into the wild, as well as education and research. “We provide a proper facility to house and care for sun bears that have been captive,” Wong explains, “In short, we improve their welfare and their living conditions that were once very poor.”

“Sun bears are the least known of all bears,” he continues, “so many people aren’t aware of their presence in the forest and their conservation status, let alone the importance of sun bears to the forest ecosystem, and the importance of the forest to all living organisms on Earth.”

“SUN BEARS ARE THE LEAST KNOWN OF ALL BEARS, SO MANY PEOPLE AREN’T AWARE OF THEIR PRESENCE IN THE FOREST AND THEIR CONSERVATION STATUS.”

“The very first step to conserving sun bears is to educate the public of the bears’ plight. Since sun bears are still the least understood bears in the world, we hope the centre can be an important hub for sun bear research.”

After being kept in quarantine for 30 days and having their health checked, the bears are free to move to the bear house where they start the integration process, before being released into the natural forest enclosure.

Ultimately, the centre hopes to release each bear back into the wild. “Sun bears belong in the wild and not in captivity, so we would like to give the bears a second chance.

Visitors to the centre have the opportunity to see these sun bears in their natural environment, from an observation platform. “This is unique,” Wong says, “because sun bears are very difficult to observe in the wild. They are very rare and shy, and they live in dense tropical forest. Here, visitors can observe, photograph, and video their natural behaviour in the forest enclosure, and sometimes see the bears climb as high as 40 metres above the ground.” Around the observation platform, guides are on-hand to talk about the sun bears.

“SUN BEARS BELONG IN THE WILD AND NOT IN CAPTIVITY, SO WE WOULD LIKE TO GIVE THE BEARS A SECOND CHANCE.”

Wong concludes: “I hope more and more people learn about these bears and their plight, and take more action to help them. And I hope that people no longer harm the bears or damage their habitat. I hope more people can support the work we do to protect sun bears, as well as their rainforest habitat.”

Find out more about the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and make a donation through the charity’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet, Chin starts to enjoy life

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Chin finished her quarantine period and was moved to bear house where she will start her brand new life!

 

Chin, a 13 year old adult female sun bear arrived to BSBCC from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo on July 22, 2014. Chin was rescued from the primary school’s mini zoo in Tawau, a town in the southeast region of Sabah. We are happy to report that Chin has successfully completed the quarantine period and has been moved into the bear house to live with other bears her age.  On October 20, 2014 two veterinarians from the Sabah Wildlife Department, Dr. Laura Benedict and Dr. Timothy Fong, teamed up with our sun bear team to help in the moving process.

 

 

After the sedation procedure, Chin was carried out of her den and put into the transportation trolley. The trolley then moved Chin from the quarantine area to the bear house. Every bear that is being moved undergoes routine check-ups during the transport. Chin’s weight, blood, and hair samples were tested to ensure general health and organ functionality. She weighed in at 35kg and showed a bit of hair loss on both forelimbs. Dr. Laura suggested that Chin take a supplement to help her adjust.

While under sedation she was weighed.

The first step to her freedom was to move Chin from the quarantine which requires a general anesthetic and a transfer trolley to her new home situated at bear house.

Reached bear house!

Dr. Laura and Dr. Timothy conducted a full physical exam and collect any samples needed for health and genetics. This include collecting blood samples,hair samples, dental records, and growth measurements.

Finally, when all the checks have been performed and recorded. Chin is gently put in her new cages.The bears in the bear house took interest in her.


The bears in the bear house took interest in her right away; however Chin seemed a bit displeased upon awaking from the sedation. She barked, growled, and showed a bit of aggression once she began to hear and smell the other bears.

 

Growls for strange sound and people!

 

Over the next few days she began to settle into her new home at the bear house, but remained alert to her neighbours. Chin is very attentive and watches with curiosity and interest at the world going by. She is still exploring her new space and enjoys climbing around the cages while she adapts to her new home.

Enjoying new facility.

Food hidden in Aussie Dog Ball. This will encourage Chin to spend time searching for extracting her food.

Chin now has a brand new life free of fear and pain. The next step for Chin is she will be access in a pristine forest where she can climb high in the trees, forage for grubs, and socialize with other bears. This new lifestyle is just one step in the direction of becoming a wild sun bear.

 

Be on the lookout for future updates on the progress of Chin. We look forward to the day when she can be introduced to the rest of the adult female sun bears.

 

 

Grand opening of BSBCC and Sepilok Orangutan rehabilation Centre’s 50th Anniversary on the 9th October, 2014

Text by Nick Tan
Pictures by Tee Thye Lim and Chew Lin May

The car park was empty, umbrellaDSC_6648 canopies with beautiful decoration and chairs underneath were seen, loud music was playing and plenty of wildlife exhibition when I came to work today. At as early as 8am, the usual silent morning was suddenly hit by waves of locals and foreigners visitors flooding in. The reason? The 50th Anniversary of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) and the grand opening of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre (BSBCC).

 

Main entrance of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Main entrance of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (en.wikipedia.org)

BSBCC Grand Opening (23)

On 9th October, BSBCC and SOURC were opened for public for free!

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo was founded 50 years ago when Barbara Harrison initiated the very first rehabilitation centre in the world for rescued orangutans. The site is 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Today around 60 to 80 orangutans are living free in the reserve. The new objectives of the centre has expanded to public education on conservation, research assistance and provide care for any other wildlife species. This centre is renowned for their work in rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans all aross the sate and has increased global awareness on the importance of protection of orangutans.

Carrying the same spirit and vision as Madam Barbara Harrison and SOURC, BSBCC was established at 2008 to help the Malayan sun bears. 2014 represented a milestone for BSBCC for it is when we are opened to public.  In fact, the centre had a successful soft opening on January 16th 2014 and since then, we had a staggering number of visitors – around 34,895 (16,978 local and 17,917 foreigners). Over the past six years, we have worked to improve welfare of captive sun bears in Sabah. Today, with the grand opening of BSBCC, we look forward to educating and reaching out to many more people across the world to raise awareness about sun beras and their rainforest habitat. Research and rehabilitation which are critical in the conservation of sun bears are areas of focus now that the centre is open. BSBCC is also helping to boost the economy through tourism. According toTripadvisor.com, BSBCC is currently ranked number four among 20 attractions in Sandakan. Visitors to BSBCC are doing their bit to enhance wildlife conservation and forest protection.

The grand opening of BSBCC and 50th Anniversary of SOURC was attended by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment – Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun and Director of Sabah Wildlife Department – Datuk Dr. Laurentius Ambu. The event went on for 2 days with the opening ceremony with the VIPs and various educational activities and exhibition held for the public.

Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun giving a speech on the importance of enforcement needed to curb poaching of wildlife.

Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun giving a speech on the importance of enforcement needed to curb poaching of wildlife.

 

 

 

 

BSBCC Grand Opening (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BSBCC Grand Opening (38)

Escort personally by our founder and CEO, Mr. Wong Siew Te to our centre.

BSBCC Grand Opening (80)

BSBCC staffs welcoming the VIPs.

 

BSBCC is now officially open!

BSBCC is now officially open!

Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun looking over from the platform to observe the sun bears.

Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun looking over from the platform to observe the sun bears.

“I hope that this new centre will be another model for a successful facility that can be proud of.” said Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun.

A big thank you from us.

A big thank you from us.

Opening of Orangutan outdoor nursery

Opening of Orangutan outdoor nursery

The completely soundproof observation deck at the outdoor nursery was made to reduce the disturbance from humans to the orangutans.

The completely soundproof observation deck at the outdoor nursery was made to reduce the disturbance from humans to the orangutans.

An interview conducted by reporters in the outdoor nursery.

An interview conducted by reporters in the outdoor nursery.

 ” When the centre was first set up, we had only a few staff working around the clock to care for the rescued orangutans. Now, not only do we have the assistance from several NGOs for the rehabilitation work, the centre is also a home for the sun bears rehabilitation program” Said Datuk Dr. Laurentius Ambu

 

Bobohizan (priest/priestess in khadazandusun) ceremony.

Bobohizan (priest/priestess in khadazandusun) ceremony.

Bobohizans have the ability to communicate with spirits and make peace with them.

Bobohizans have the ability to communicate with spirits and make peace with them.

Our exhibition booth

Our exhibition booth

 

 

 

Thank you everyone who supported us and came to our grand opening!

 

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See Hua Daily News ( ???? ), 10th October 2014 

 

 

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Asia Times ( ???? ), 10th October 2014