Author Archives: siew-te-wong

BSBCC Phase I nearly complete

Photo and Text by Ian Hall


The new bear house at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Should have been completed this month however we have been delayed by bad weather.


Our site being low lying and barely above the water table has degenerated into bottomless gloop. Luckily most of the building was up before the rainy season but materials deliveries and availability of dry working space has suffered. Under the conditions the contractor has done us proud and the quality of workmanship in the most important components, the cages, is excellent.



We’re now putting the final touches to an array of slide bars, pulleys, clamps, locks and counterweights that will make operation of the building safe for both bears and keepers.


One final hurdle remains after that, to connect the forest enclosure electric fencing to the building so that the bears’ release into a natural environment can be controlled. There has been much chin scratching on the part of all partners; Wildlife, Forestry and BSBCC on this one. Wildlife Dept are concerned about orang-utans getting into the bear enclosure and Forestry Dept are concerned about how they are going to prune trees to prevent arboreal bears from escaping the enclosure!

It was never going to be an easy task ensuring that captive bears have controlled access to primary rainforest however this is the feature that will set this sanctuary / conservation centre apart from any other.


A bird view of the kitchen area of the new bear house.


Eletric fence traning area. It is here we will train the bear not to come close to the fence with hot (eletric) wire, or, they will get zapp!


The contractor giving a briefing during the site inspection last week by LEAP, Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department.

World Challenge volunteers, we thank you!

By Wai Pak and Howard Stanton

There were three groups of young people arrive at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre from 27th of November to 20th of December 2009. These three groups were all apart of the World Challenge volunteer program, aged 14 – 18 years old, numbered 41 in total.

The groups were tasked with designing and building a section of the visitor’s boardwalk, all groups worked exceptionally hard to fulfil their brief and achieve the work that they were tasked with. The groups had limited experience and knowledge of skills needed to undertake the assignment but tackled the job with motivation determination and enthusiasm from the very beginning, in the process exceeding the expectations of those of us here at BSBCC and producing a well designed and built section of the boardwalk.

BSBCC would like to express its greatest appreciation to all the young volunteers that helped with the boardwalk construction. BSBCC would also like to thank all those that made it possible for these fine young people to come over and help these needy animals. BSBCC is extremely thankful and grateful to all three groups for the fund that they donated, as a result of their hard work in fund raising back in Australia. BSBCC will channel the donations into the second and third phase of the construction and ensure that every cent that was hard earned from their fund raising will be put to its best use.

BSBCC and all involved with these three groups were very impressed to hear about all the background research and planning that all these individuals had undertaken just so that they could get to Borneo and work hard for the good of the Sun Bears. All volunteers raised the money for the trip themselves and undertaken individual and group fund raising activities to ensure that they raised the appropriate funds, we at BSBCC salute you all !!


For sure, all these volunteers have gained lots of sweet memories here in Sepilok. Their effort will be much more appreciated when the centre is open to the public and we at BSBCC look forward to welcoming them all back to see and enjoy the fruits of their labours.


1st Group: Smiths Hill, N, Beaches & Wollongong Schools.

27 Nov 2009 – 2 Dec 2009

14 volunteers, 2 leaders

14 -16 years old

Mrs Grant (headmistress, if I am not mistaken) : [email protected]

Donation:        RM1600 from every volunteer,

                        RM2000 fundraised at their school




2nd Group: Aquinas College (plus Howard)

9 Dec 2009- 14 Dec 2009

16 – 18 years old

Leader: Craig Cleeland :[email protected]

[email protected]   [email protected] 

Donation:        RM3040



3rd group: Ruyton Girls School

15 Dec 2009 -20 Dec 2009

15 volunteers, 3 leaders

15 – 17 years old

Kate Guggenheimer (Leader): [email protected]

Donation:        RM9150



New year, new hope for sun bear!


The year of 2009 was sure a quick year to pass. Without much notice, we entered a new decade. For me, 2010 is a year of anticipation and a year of bearing fruits after many years of hard works. It will be this year that the mission impossible become possible.


Back in 2004, I conducted a nationwide survey of sun bear status in Malaysia and visited many zoos, private menageries, mini zoos, crocodile farms, etc., including Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) in Sandakan, to better understand the situation of the captive sun bears in Malaysia. It is here at SORC that the Sabah Wildlife Department housed all of the confiscated sun bears in separate cells. These cells are “cell”, cages with nothing in it. Like all of the captive sun bears which I called “caged sun bears”, they looked sad, stress and nervous. The only activity that these bears did all day was pacing. Regardless of the sizes of the cages, they paced from one end of the cage to the other end of the cage. For those even more unfortunate bears with tiny cages to a point where pacing is not possible, they jiggled their head in circle, sometime so fast that I cannot keep track of the movement.

It may not mean anything to an ordinary local folk who treated an animal as an animal. But to me, I can tell from years of loving and care for animals that these bears were suffering, in severe stress and pain under this kind of unacceptable living environment. If this were to happen to a human, he or she would have physiological breakdown or turn crazy in days. However, because they are bears, one of very tough animal in the Kingdom Animalia (Animal), they will stay alive until they die of old age in this kind of living condition for years, as long as they are being fed with any kind of food. I mean, “any kind,” as long as it is food!


It was here I first met Ann, a SORC’s volunteer from UK probably at her 60s. Her face full of wrinkles but she has a strong heart full of love for animals, especially the orangutans. She grasped my hand with her strong arm when I first told her who I was (co-chair of the newly formed Sin Bear Expert Team, under the IUCN Bear Specialist Group), “YOU MUST HELP THESE BEARS! YOU MUST!!” she said with shaking voice. “I WILL help these bears, Ann. I will help you all bears” I reassured her and the bears again and again before I left.

It was not easy for me to found the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). It took six years for us to come this far to what it is today.  By March this year, the Phase one of the constructions will be completed and the 12 sun bears under our care now will be move to the new bear house with forest enclosure. We can rescue more cage bears that live in horrible condition because after March this year we will have the facility to house them and taking care of them, all. To all of them, this will be the first time that they step on earth, sniff the forest, and dig the soil, since they were captured by poachers as a baby bear many years ago. By March this year, I can look into Ann’s eyes and say, “I have helped them, Ann.” “I have kept my promise to help you, bears!”


This year is an important year for sun bear not only our first new bear house will be completed and all the hard work that we have been doing for the past two years can finally paid off. It is also the year that sun bear gain more attention and helps for the first time around the world. Ursa Freedon Project, a new NGO founded last year with the aim to help all the eight species of bears, will put their effort this year to help sun bear and BSBCC. There are 3 sun bear studies in the wild stated last year with additional three or more will join the team of sun bear researchers this year in different parts of Southeast Asia. I will soon complete my doctorate degree and return to Malaysia to serve the rest of my life and career for the sun bears and BSBCC. All of these activities will make sun bears receive the attentions and supports that never happens before in the past. This year is not just the year of the tiger, but is also the year for the sun bear as well.


I have high hope that many can be achieve this year with a lot of helps from across the world. The next challenge for BSBCC is to raise additional UD$400,000 in order to complete the Phase 2 and 3. It is only when we completed the Phase 2 of the construction (the visitor gallery and viewing facility), we could then open our facility to the public and visitor who wish to learn more about sun bear and see our sun bear in natural enclosures. We can also generate revenue from the visitors to pay for our expenses and our education, conservation and research programs. In other word, we will be self sustained after the completion of Phase 2.

I sincerely thank all of you over and over again for your immense helps over the past many years in many ways to help us grow and help sun bears. It is your helps, contribution, and supports that make us come this far. However, we still need your help to bring a better future for sun bears and all of the wildlife and nature that we care and love so much. Please help us spread the words of our work and the plight of the sun bear during your free time. You can easily tell your friends about it, post our news in your facebook and other social networking tool online. Even better, help us raise fund, contribute your time working with us, study sun bears, and many other things that you do best.

I can do all the works to study the sun bears in the rainforest of Borneo and live there for 6 years; I can do all the works of founding BSBCC; I can do all the emailing and bloging to send the message out to you in every corner of the world as long as there are internet connection. However, I simply cannot do a lot more that needed to be done without your help for saving all of the sun bears and protecting their habitat and other wildlife and wild place

The year 2010 is the year of sun bear and we have high hope for more helps is coming during this year. Together we could make a difference and a better world for the bears and for ourselves.    

We wish you a beary Christmas and a Happy New Year!


On behalf of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and all the sun bears in the world, I would like to wish you a BEARY Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thank you all for being a big fan of sun bears and supporters of BSBCC over the past year. With your help and support in many ways, our first new bear house will be complete in two more months and soon the confiscated sun bears within our care can have a better and more natural home to stay.

It is not easy that we come this far. We did it because of your help and support!

It has been a pleasure and honor to be able to work with you and the sun bears. With our Phase 1 of the construction come to an end, we hope you could continue to support us and help us on the Phase 2 of the construction work and our works planned for the future!

You can always read more about our works and the bears at

Tired of reading? You can also visit our youtube site to watch videos about sun bear

Thank you all!

We wish you a Beary Christmas!  We wish you a Beary Christmas!  We wish you a Beary Christmas!    

And a Happy New Year!


We are almost there!

Here is a video of photos taken during the last two months. As you can see, WE ARE ALMOST THERE!

The construction of our first bear house is at the last stage and soon will start constructing the fencing of the forest enclosures.

It has been a long wait, I know. It has not been easy, I know. I would like to take this oppurtunity to THANK all of you, yes, you, for being a great supporter and helps in many ways to make us come this long.

Now, I can look into the eyes of our beloved sun bears in our centre, and tell them: hang in there, WE ARE ALMOST THERE!

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Raleigh comes to the BSBCC!

By: Vicki, Brony, Charlie, Emma, jack, Ali.

Raleigh, formally known as Raleigh international, is a youth and education charity which gives people a chance to explore the world and by doing so discover their potential as leaders and members of a team working together to make a difference. Raleigh first began working in Malaysia in 1987 and since 2003 has been in Sabah, North Borneo.

This year has seen various projects developing across Sabah, with the help of Raleigh volunteers, including community-based projects, such as the installation of gravity water feed systems and the building of kindergartens. Raleigh also however, aims at enabling young people to get involved with environmental projects and as of this year this has included the development of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which Raleigh believes is the most exciting new conservation initiative in Borneo. This is a truly unique project and us volunteers on Raleigh’s third and final phase are excited about getting stuck into the work here.

The group consists of 11 venturers – Charlie, Emma, Ali, Bryony, Leo, James, Lottie, Vicki, Thijs, Andrew, Jack and 4 project managers – Jessie, Craig, Nicky and Phil. So far we have been cracking on with the “bear-proofing” of existing perimeter fences by installing metal rods into the ground. This process involves hammering 4ft iron rods securely into the ground so that the bears will not be able to dig under the fence as is naturally expected of them. We have also been dividing the enclosure into three separate areas to accommodate for the different behaviours and requirements of each bear. For example, bears of a similar age need to be kept together, more aggressive bears may need to be separated and the gender of the bears also has to be considered. Ultimately, Sun Bears potentially suited for re-release into the wild should be separated from those who would be incapable of surviving in the wild.          

So far the project has been hard work, but exciting, as every day brings with it new experiences of all sorts. We’ve had encounters with the resident orang-utans of which there are two. One in particular has proved to be a great fan of relieving venturers of their water bottles and biscuits at break time. We’ve also had dealings with mischievous macaques, terrifying tarantulas and massive monitor lizards!!

   There was excitement here at the BSBCC when Suria, a sun bear suffering with an injured paw, was deemed healthy enough to be moved to more comfortable surroundings after 3 months of recovery. The occasion was marked with a mutual sense of hope that the rehabilitation process of such bears will one day prove as successful as their neighbours at the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok.



Cutting the metal rods requires both strength and skill.



Jessie, project manager is having discussion with Billy, the architect assistant on the working site.

New homes for condo sun bear and pets

Wednesday December 9, 2009

New homes for condo pets


SHAH ALAM: The young Malayan honey bear which was rescued from a cage in a condominium on Friday has been sent to the Malacca Zoo.

Two other wild animals rescued from the condominium — a slow loris and a leopard cat — have been sent to Selangor Wildlife and Natio­nal Parks animal conservation centre in Paya Indah Wetlands and the Sungai Dusun Wildlife Reserve Fo­rest in Hulu Selangor, respec­tively.

According to Abdul Jalal Kassim, an official with the department, the animals were transferred to their new homes on Monday after a court order was obtained.

On the same day, he said, a man believed to be the owner of the animals surrendered to the department.

The 29-year-old man was accompanied by the woman who was earlier arrested at the condominium for keeping the wild animals.

Officials recorded his statement before releasing him.

On Friday, the 25-year-old hotel worker was arrested for keeping the three animals, classified as endangered species, in the condominium unit in Desa Pandan which was occupied by her and her male relative.

She was released on bail after her statement was recorded.

The man was not in the condominium when the place was raided.

The animals were believed to have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as pets in the condominium.

The two could be charged under Section 64(2)(a) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which carries a fine of up to RM3,000 or a jail sentence of up to two years, or both.

The bear can fetch a price of RM5,000 on the local market while the slow loris and the big cat are worth about RM500 each.

Woman found rearing sun bear and other wildlife in condominium


Published: Monday December 7, 2009 MYT 12:37:00 PM
Updated: Monday December 7, 2009 MYT 3:30:34 PM

Woman found rearing wildlife in condominium


SHAH ALAM: A 25-year-old hotel worker was arrested for keeping a baby Honey Bear, a Leopard Cat and a Slow Loris in a condominium unit in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

All the animals, which are endangered species, were found in individual cages in the unit, where the woman was living with her male relative.

The woman has since been released on bail untill Dec 29 after giving her statement.

The animals were found during a raid carried out on Friday evening by the enforcement officers from the Selangor Wildlife Department following a public tip-off.

Department deputy director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad said they were now looking for the woman’s male relative, who is in his 30s, to help the department in its investigation.

He said only the woman and the animals were in the house when enforcement officers arrived.


Initial investigation showed the animals could have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as a pet in the condominium in the past three months, he told a press conference here on Monday.

Khairi said the baby bear could be sold for about RM5,000 while the cat and the slow loris was worth about RM500 each in the market.

He warned that the public not to keep or buy wildlife as it was against the law.

“This case is only the tip of the iceberg and we believe there are many out there who are having wild animals as pets in their home.

“This is not the way to love the wildlife. They belonged to the wild,” he added.

Khairi also said usually, a hunter would have to kill the mother of a cub before he could take away the animal, which was a cruel act.

He added that the department would get a court order to send the animals to the Malacca Zoo or released them back to the wild.




Bela beruang di kondo

SHAH ALAM 7 Dis. – Jabatan Perlindungan Hidupan Liar dan Taman Negara (Perhilitan) Selangor merampas beruang matahari, kongkang dan kucing batu yang dipelihara seorang lelaki dalam serbuan di sebuah kondominium di Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur dekat sini Jumaat lalu.

Bagaimanapun ketika serbuan kira-kira 7.30 malam itu, lelaki warga tempatan yang memelihara ketiga-tiga binatang liar yang merupakan spesies dilindungi itu tiada di kediamannya.

Sehubungan itu, pihak Perhilitan menahan seorang wanita berusia 25 tahun yang turut tinggal di kondominium tersebut dan mengaku sebagai saudara suspek bagi membantu siasatan.

Timbalan Pengarah Perhilitan Selangor, Mohammad Khairi Ahmad berkata, serbuan yang dilakukan oleh empat anggotanya itu dibuat hasil maklumat orang awam.

Beliau berkata, siasatan awal mendapati kesemua binatang liar yang dipelihara suspek dibeli daripada Orang Asli di Negeri Sembilan sejak tiga bulan lalu.

Menurut beliau, kongkang dan kucing batu dipercayai dibeli dengan harga RM500 seekor sementara beruang matahari pula RM5,000.

”Kita percaya suspek yang berusia 30-an membeli binatang liar itu untuk dibela.

”Oleh kerana suspek gagal dikesan semasa serbuan, kita menahan wanita di kondominium tersebut ketika itu bagi membantu siasatan.

”Bagaimanapun selepas diambil keterangan wanita itu dibebaskan dengan jaminan dan akan dipanggil semula pada 29 Disember ini di Mahkamah Ampang untuk tujuan pendakwaan,” kata beliau kepada pemberita di pejabat Perhilitan Selangor, di sini hari ini.

Menurut Mohammad Khairi, pihaknya masih mencari suspek sebenar yang memelihara kesemua binatang tersebut dan memintanya menyerah diri.

Ujar beliau, suspek akan didakwa di bawah Seksyen 64(2)(a) Akta Perlindungan Hidupan Liar 1972 (Akta 76) dan jika sabit kesalahan denda maksimum tidak melebihi RM3,000 atau dipenjara tidak melebihi dua tahun atau kedua-duanya.

Tambah beliau, Perhilitan akan mendapatkan perintah mahkamah bagi menentukan sama ada binatang-binatang tersebut akan dilepaskan ke habitat asalnya ataupun dihantar ke zoo.

Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest?

 Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest? I bet you have NOT!

Many people not even know about sun bear or seen a sun bear, let alone seeing one of them making a nest high on top of the trees.

Here is a rare opportunity of a lifetime to see a radio-collar sun bear building a nest in the rainforest of Borneo.

Don’t blink and please hold your breath until the end of the video.

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Tree nest
Sun bears in the wild make nest on tree and sleep on these tree nest like orangutans. However, nest building behavior is more common in forest where human disturbance is higher and large terrestrial predators like tigers, and leopards are presence. It makes sense for sun bears to make such tree nest and sleep on high on tree, some as high as 40 meters (128 feet) because it is much safer and dryer on top of tree. These nests usually consist of a pile of tree branches and twigs that are band over from the surrounding centered at a tree fork that close to the main trunk. The diameter of these tree nests ranges from a 1 to 2 meter. Unlike orangutan nest, sun bear rarely snap branches or break branches close by. I still lack of evident that they reuse these tree nests, and believe that they construct new nest every time they need one because wild sun bears tend to wonder a large range, unless there are important food resources available like a fruiting fig tree in the forest. Under this situation, sun bears tend to hang around the area until the food resource is depleted and they have to move on to forage for food. Although the metal baskets that we provide for our captive bears are very different from the natural nest, these bears still love them because these baskets give them a dry, safe, and cozy bed.

You can read more about the nest building behavior in my earlier blog:


Construction in progress!


There are so many stories that I had in my mind that I would like to blog about that told the world. However, finding time to do it always become challenging, or by the time I feel like I have a little time to write before bed time, my eyes and my fingers were too tired to work. Is this call aging??

Anyway, one blog posting that I always like to post is about the progress of the building construction of bear house. It has been going on schedule (consider a very good sign as most construction works here in this part of the world are always delay and fall behind schedule).

 These photos were taken from the site on November 30th by Ian Hall. I let these photos speak for themselves. As you can see, we are getting there!

After the Phase 1 construction is done, our big challenge is to raise fund for the Phase 2. Believe me that we are still working hard to raise the fund need for Phase 2 but unfortunately we did not have a lot of success. If you know someone who can help, please help us spread the words.

Seriously, I am praying hard and working hard to find fund for this project. This is my hope, our hope, and the hope for the sun bears as well.

Thank you for all of your support and helps. Together we can make a difference!


Photos: Ian Hall