Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Dawn Tukalan & Thye Lim
The day at BSBCC on the 4th of July started with a big preparation for the Environmental Education Race (EERace) activity at the centre. The EERace is an environmental education programme held annually in the heart of Borneo districts of Sabah. It is organized by the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) under the Sabah Forestry Department, together with many government and private organizations. The aim of the race is to enhance and deepen teacher’s knowledge and experiences on the environment.
A team of 4 participants and 3 facilitators reached the centre at 9.30 am with no idea of what was planned for them. The first activity was the “Bear Acting” activity where the participants was placed in cages as displayed animals. The BSBCC staff and facilitators acted as visitors. They were camera flashes and food thrown from outside the cages. The participants were also ignored for a few minutes, when everyone stepped away from the cages. The purpose of this activity is to allow the participants to experience what it feels like to be badly treated by people who visits displayed animals. Later, the participants shared their experience to everyone. They felt awful and threatened of the “visitor’s” way of treating them. This unique experience encourages participants to understand the importance of prioritizing animal feelings and welfare.
The next activity was preparing “toys” or enrichment for the bears. The participants were given various materials such as cardboard, ginger leaves, ropes, honey, peanut butter and many kinds of spices. They were encouraged to use their creativity to construct “toys” for the bears. They produced great enrichment and the bears loved it!
The participants took a brief 30 minutes break before they continued with the tour around the centre. This focuses more on sun bear ecology and the aims of BSBCC as a conservation and rehabilitation centre for sun bears in Sabah. Since the sun bear is known as the “least known” species among the bears in the world, describing the sun bear facts to the participants are fresh and fascinating. The activity ended with participants detecting sun bear claw marks on the trees along the boardwalk. We hope the participants enjoyed their half day activities at BSBCC. Looking forward for more exciting activities on next year’s EERace!