Category Archives: bear rescue

Protected sun bear cub rescued

The Rakyat Post, 7 August 2015
By Sandra Sokial

Three-month-old rescued sun bear cub,Tan-Tan is now.safely ‘home’ at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan. — Photo courtesy of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

A three-month-old sun bear cub, rescued from being sold in the remote region of Paitan, is now in safe hands at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok, Sandakan.

The female bear, named Tan-Tan, arrived at BSBCC in Sepilok yesterday, making her the 44th rescued sun bear to be placed there since the centre was set up over six years ago.

BSBCC founder and chief executive officer, Wong Siew Te said the bear was purchased by someone who came across a villager trying to sell the cub.

He said the person who bought the cub informed the Sabah Wildlife Department and this led to the department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit sending her to the centre.

“Tan-Tan was saved and brought to her new home at BSBCC and we now have 35 bears out of the total 44 we have received over the years.

“The cub is under quarantine and is being given round the clock care by our staff,” he said, in a statement.

Wong thanked veterinarians Dr Laura Benedict and Dr Sandy Ling Choo of the Wildlife Rescue Unit for conducting a health check on Tan-Tan when she arrived at the facility.

Wong also said it was important for the public to understand that buying sun bears creates an incentive for poachers to capture the animal for profit, with some choosing to kill the species for their parts.

“We thank the person who bought the cub and sent her to the department, but we must stress here that the best way to help a sun bear or other wildlife meant for trade is to report the matter to the Sabah Wildlife Department immediately.

“This will allow the law enforcement officer to catch and prosecute those found selling protected animals or their parts.

“We have to avoid buying wildlife. When the buying stops, the killing will stop too.”

Wong added that the cost of caring for sun bears is huge and appeals to the public to support BSBCC by donating to it or by adopting bears like Tan-Tan.

Details on the donation and adoption programmes are available at http://www.bsbcc.org.my/donate.html or http://www.bsbcc.org.my/adopt.html respectively.

 

Sun bear cub bought, sent to conservation centre

Borneo Post Online, 8 August 2015
By Winnie Kasmir

Wong handling the rescued sun bear cub, Tan-Tan.

SANDAKAN: A three-month-old sun bear cub that was put up for sale in a remote Paitan area is now under the good care of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) located off Mile 14 Labuk Road near here.

The bear cub, named Tan-Tan, was taken to the BSBCC in Sepilok yesterday, making her the 44th rescued sun bear to be placed at the BSBCC since the centre was set up over six years ago.

BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the bear was purchased by someone who came across a villager trying to sell the cub.

He said the person who bought the cub informed the Sabah Wildlife Department and this led to the Department’s wildlife rescue unit sending her to the centre.

“Tan-Tan was saved and brought to her new home at the BSBCC, and we now have 35 bears out of the total 44 we have received over the years. The cub is under quarantine and is being given round the clock care by our staff,” he said in a statement.

Tan-Tan undergoes a health check.

Wong thanked veterinarians, Dr. Laura Benedict and Dr. Sandy Ling Choo, of the wildlife rescue unit for conducting a health check on Tan-Tan when she arrived at the facility.

Wong also said that it was important for the public to understand that buying Sun bears creates an incentive for poachers to capture the animal for profit, with some choosing to kill the species for their body parts.

“We thank the person who bought the cub and sent her to the department, but we must stress here that the best way to help a Sun bear or other wildlife meant for trade is to report the matter to the Sabah Wildlife Department immediately.

“This will allow the law enforcement officer to catch and prosecute those found selling protected animals or their parts. We have to avoid buying wildlife. When the buying demand stops, the killing will stop too.

“We worry that the sale of bears creates an incentive for poachers to capture or to even kill more bears to make money. Buying creates a market for Sun bear cubs and fuels trading,” he said.

Wong added that the cost of caring for Sun bears is huge, and appeals to the public to support the BSBCC by donating to it, or by adopting bears like Tan-Tan. Details on the adoption programme can be found at the website, http://www.bsbcc.org.my or //donate.html; or http://www.bsbcc.org.my/adopt.html.

Anak Beruang Madu Bernasib Baik Dibeli Individu Prihatin

Bernama, 7 Ogos 2015

SANDAKAN, 7 Ogos (Bernama) — Seekor anak beruang madu berusia tiga bulan bernasib baik kerana dibeli seorang individu yang prihatin tentang nasibnya.

Haiwan itu, dibeli individu berkenaan di satu kawasan terpencil di daerah Paitan, sebelum menyerahkannya kepada Pusat Pemuliharaan Beruang Madu Borneo (BSBCC) di sini.

Spesies haiwan dilindungi diberi nama Tan-Tan itu tiba di BSBCC di Sepilok semalam, menjadikannya beruang madu ke-44 yang diselamatkan dan ditempatkan di pusat itu.

Pengasas dan pegawai eksekutif BSBCC, Wong Siew Te berkata setelah membeli anak beruang madu itu daripada seorang penduduk kampung, individu berkenaan menghubungi Jabatan Hidupan Liar Sabah, yang kemudian menyerahkan haiwan itu kepada BSBCC, yang ditubuhkan enam tahun lepas.

“Sekarang, kami mempunyai 35 beruang daripada sejumlah 44 yang kami terima sejak beberapa tahun lepas,” katanya dalam kenyataan di sini Jumaat.

Wong berkata kos untuk menjaga seekor beruang madu adalah tinggi dan oleh itu beliau merayu kepada orang ramai supaya memberi sokongan kepada pusat itu dengan menghulurkan derma atau menjadikan beruang sebagai anak angkat mereka seperti yang dilakukan terhadap Tan-Tan .

— BERNAMA

Rescued sunbear finds new home

New Straits Times, 7 August 2015

BY KRISTY INUS

SANDAKAN: A three-month old sunbear cub which was up for sale in the interior Paitan, has now been placed under the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s (BSBCC) protection near here as of Wednesday.

The female bear which was named Tan-Tan is the 44th rescued sunbear since the centre was set up six years ago, according to a statement from BSBCC and Sabah Wildlife Department.

BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said a concerned citizen came across a villager trying to sell the cub.

“The person bought the cub and informed the Sabah Wildlife Department, leading to the department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit sending her to our Centre. With her addition, we now have 35 bears presently at the Centre.

“The cub is under quarantine and is being given round the clock care by our staff,” said Wong.

Sunbear is one of the 11 listed under Totally Protected Species (Schedule 1) which included the Sumatran Rhinoceros, orang utan, Borneo pygmy elephants and clouded leopard.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) Founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te receiving the rescued sun bear cub which was sent to the centre in Sepilok, Sandakan on Wednesday

 

The rescued bears enjoy a new forest enclosure

Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Tee Thye Lim & Chiew Lin May

BSBCC provides care and a second chance for the rescued sun bears to live in the forest by accessing the natural forest enclosure. In the past few months, one of the BSBCC forest enclosure (Pen D) has been temporarily closed for upgrading. We have built a new pool, and have planted new plants in the forest enclosure to keep the bears happy and stimulated. Besides that, there was one part of the area that had been damaged by our active young sun bears, causing exposure of tree roots which would eventually cause the tree to die. So we have built a concrete retaining wall in the forest enclosure to stop erosion and to prevent the large tree from collapsing.

Forest enclosure (Pen D) for rescued bears, showing a retaining wall and new pool.

Forest enclosure (Pen D) for rescued bears, showing a retaining wall and new pool.

 

On May 17th 2015, the construction of the forest enclosure was finally done. The six adult bears (one male and five females) group including Fulung, Bongkud, Ah Bui, Mary, Debbie and Damai explored their new surroundings. As expected, it took a while for the bears to venture, but after a few sniffs and a scan through the forest enclosure they became more curious and confident.

In the tropical climate of Borneo, the pool allows the rescued bears to cool down their body. They are free to swim, play, wrestle, and splash in their new pool! Thanks to the generous Buildtech for helping us construct the retaining wall and new pool for the rescued bears.

Look at them now, digging for grubs, climbing trees, playing together, explore the pool and learning how to be just like a wild bear!!

They happily settling into new encironment

Tapping and exploring the new pool

Fulung is make sure the new concrete retaining wall is safe to use

Ah Bui wondering where is the previous big hole gone?

They are adventurous and attempt to climb trees

They are adventurous and attempt to climb trees

They love digging dead wood in search of insects to keep them busy all the time.

Enjoy sunbathing too!

After the tummy is full, it is time for napping

The bears have much better care with to keep them happy and stimulated!

 

 

Three Newly Arrived Sun Bears Settling in at BSBCC

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May


This rescue did not change the world that we lived in, but it definitely changed the whole world of these three rescued bears!

Why does sun bear’s survival threatened? Sun bears are threatened for various reasons; one reason in particular is humans. Human activities pose many threats to sun bears and their habitat. Intensive illegal logging paired with increased agricultural expansions are just two ways in which humans are forcing sun bears out of their homes. Illegal animal trade is also leading to the extinction of sun bears. Mothers are being killed so that their cubs can be taken in as pets; many of which end up in small cages, and due to a lack of knowledge on how to properly handle the babies, often times they become malnourished and traumatised. This needs to stop if we ever want to see wild sun bears living happy and free in the rainforest!

This past July, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre received three rescued sun bears named Ronnie, Susie and Chin. These three rescued sun bears arrived at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre from the Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo in Kota Kinabalu.

On July 15, 2014, 2 rescued sun bears (Ronnie and Susie) successfully unloaded at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre at around 5pm.

On July 22, 2014, Chin, an adult female sun bear is the 8th bear to arrive at the Centre this year.


We prepared a quarantine area for the bears which included a den enriched with decayed wood, climbing structures, hammocks, and green leaves. Upon arrival to the centre we unloaded the bear’s cages and secured it safely to the gate of the den. When we opened the doors the bears were hesitant to go inside. All three of them were slightly stressed from the move, but eventually each one entered its new home and began to explore.

Let the bears into their quarantine dens for the start of their new lives.

 

All newly rescued bears must undergo a month long quarantine period so that wildlife veterinarians can conduct an extensive health check, blood and hair examinations, and monitor the body measurements of the bears.

 

We conducted Ronnie physical check up at the BSBCC. It went on very smoothly with the help from the SWD vet, Dr Laura and Dr. Sandy.

Susie physical check up.

Chin physical check up.

 



Ronnie, a five month old female sun bear cub is always capturing people’s attention! Her history is still unknown but we believe that she was kept as a ex-pet and was sent to the BSBCC on July 15, 2014. Her mother was most likely killed by poachers, and now, this kind natured gentile sun bear is quickly adjusting to her new surroundings. 

Meet Ronnie, one of the youngest sun bear cub at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

 

When Ronnie arrived at the centre, she weighed only 7.9 kg and took the spot as youngest bear at the centre, as well as one of the smallest. Now her weight is 10.8 kg.


She is learning all the skills pertinent to survival in the wild. She is also enjoying this learning process very much, and loves to play in the dirt! She also likes to dig, and tear apart the dead wood around her.

So wonderful to see her grown up very fast!

Learn climbing tree time!!


If we give her ginger leaves or decayed branches, she will spend an entire day biting, twisting or tearing apart her enrichments.


During play fights, Ronnie likes to show her small curved canines and sharp claws.

 

 

Now that Ronnie is getting plenty of milk and fruit to eat she is developing a big belly too!

 

She has a nutritious diet that comprises fruits – Durian, Tarap, Mangosteen, Rambutan, Banana and etc.


Yummy! Enjoy Ronnie!

Big belly!

 

We special made a new sleeping platform for Ronnie so that she can seek shelter and hide when she encounter strange condition.



Aside from playing in her new environment, she also enjoys her nap time and snoozing on her sleeping platform.


She is simply a beautiful sun bear, and returns our smiles with an open mouth!


 

The chest mark of Ronnie similar to sun shaped with sprinkled with light black dots.

 


Susie, a 3 year old sub-adult female sun bear came to the centre on July 15, 2014. She was kept illegally as a pet by an individual who bought her from the Pensiangan Village in the Keningau District while she was still cub. He paid RM 200 for Susie. The owner’s son then surrenders Susie to the Sabah Wildlife Department on June 2014. The previous owner fed her primarily rice, meat, honey and fruits. Susie now weights 23 kg.

Susie, one of our recent arrivals at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

 

Susie can be short tempered and rather sensitive, and is quite aware when strangers are around.  When food is present, especially her favourite varieties of fruits, she eats extremely fast. 

 

Susie has a large and broad chest mark with a “meteor” at the middle of her body.


Chin, an adult female sun bear, arrived to BSBCC from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo on July 22, 2014. Chin is named after the primary school that she was rescued from in Tawau, a town in the southeast region of Sabah. Chin was kept at the primary school’s mini zoo for a very long time and was displayed illegally in a small metal cage. She was previously fed fruits, bread, and milk while she was kept at the school. 

Introducing Chin, one of the latest arrivals to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre!

Upon arrival we discovered that Chin is missing her left hind claw, which for a human would be the ring finger on the left hand.


Chin may look like a heavy and grumpy bear but she is actually a gentle and friendly bear.


We believe that Chin was never given any enrichment when she was kept at the mini zoo, which explains her curious behaviour towards enrichment activities. Here at the centre she is finding more and more activities to enjoy! Chin loves to tear things into pieces, such as dead logs and coconuts, and is a big fan of ginger leaves! She also loves playing in the water and enjoys splashing water out of the water basin onto her chest.

Tired of play…taking a rest first!

Her first time taste the durian fruit!

Showing her special long tongue!

“Growl” Alert with surrounding sound…

 

Chin’s chest mark

 

Well, these three new bears are doing well at BSBCC now! The bears slowly put their past behind them and are learning to live like wild bears again! Next step for the rescued sun bears will be integrating them with other bears, and slowly giving them access to the natural forest enclosure. The bears are in good hands with our caring staffs, and have been nurtured back to health. Throughout the day we provide different types of enrichment for the bears, and allow them the ability to freely explore, play, and forage. These activities stimulate their natural behaviour and help to prepare them for life back in the wild. Currently the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is taking care of 35 rescued sun bears, and is delighted to care for these bears!

 

 

 

 

Sun Bears sent to conservation centre

Borneo Post Online, 17th March 2014

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) chief executive officer Wong Siew Te feeding one of the newly arrived Sun Bears at the Centre. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

SANDAKAN: Five Malayan Sun Bears that were either confiscated or handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department between June last year and March 1, this year have been transferred to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) near here.

The Sun Bears were initially sheltered at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Kota Kinabalu after they were seized by Sabah Wildlife Department rangers, with some being handed over by the public, Park officer-in-charge and veterinarian, Dr Rosa Sipangkui said.

“We tranquillized the bears in the early afternoon of March 10 and conducted a full medical examination to make sure they were healthy before they were transferred into their transport cages for their eight-hour journey to their new jungle home at the BSBCC in Sandakan.

“Four of the five bears that we sent to BSBCC are males, including a six-month-old cub. Though I feel sad to see them leave Lok Kawi, I am happy for them as they will be getting a much better jungle home and also have an opportunity to be able to live in a forested environment very much like their original habitat and may be rehabilitated and released into a protected forest reserve one day,” Rosa said in a statement yesterday.

BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said it took his team three hours to unload the bears when they arrived, and to settle them into the bear house.

“We are monitoring their progress, and we will keep the public updated on how they are doing. With the completion of our second bear house, BSBCC is now able to receive more bears that were previously in captivity or those rescued by the Department.

“The bears that we received are not part of those for public viewing at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. With the expected arrival of two more bears this week, BSBCC will become home to 34 bears,” Wong said.

He stressed that it is an offence for the public to keep a protected species, and anyone who has the animal in captivity should surrender it to the department.

“My message to the public is that Sun Bears are protected by law and cannot be kept as pets. Sun Bears are forest dependent species and play important roles in the forest ecosystem as seed dispersers, forest engineers, forest doctors and forest farmers. They keep our forests healthy, for the benefit of humans and all life forms,” Wong said.

Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said Sun Bears fall under Schedule 1 of the Totally Protected wildlife species list in the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, and that killing, keeping a bear, or having in possession body parts like claws and gall bladders could result in punishment of up to five years’ jail or a maximum of RM50,000 fine.

“Habitat loss and poaching for parts used in traditional medicine are among key threats that have led to a severe decline of the Sun Bear population in the last three decades in Sabah.

“Sabah is now at a crossroad and failure to protect remaining forest reserves would be a deathblow not only for our beautiful Sun Bears but also many other protected wildlife species such as Clouded Leopards and Orang Utans that share a common habitat with the Sun Bear,” Ambu said.

In Borneo, the smallest of the world’s eight bear species is also seeing a drop in numbers following their illegal capture for the pet trade and when they are wrongly perceived as pests and gunned down.

The Polar Bear, Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Spectacled Bear, Sloth Bear, Giant Panda and Asiatic Black Bear are other better known bear species.

Found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, the exact number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing to reduce pressure on a species that is classified as “vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.

 

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre receives another 5 bears

New Straits Times, 16th March 2014

By Olivia Miwil | [email protected]

KOTA KINABALU: Five Malayan sun bears were relocated to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan recently, bringing the total of the protected species to 32 currently at the conservation centre.

  The five bears –four adults and a six-month-old cub– were previously sheltered at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park after they were previously rescued by forest rangers or were handed in to the authorities by the public.
  A full medical examination was conducted to ensure the bears were fit for the eight-hour transfer journey to the centre.
 The centre’s  chief executive officer, Wong Siew Te said it took his team three hours to unload and settle the bears at their new ‘home’.
 “These bears are not part of those for public viewing, but we will continue to monitor and update the public on their progress, here,” he added.
  The centre is able to receive more bears now after the recent completion of a second bear house.
  It will become a home to 34 bears, which include the recent batch and another two coming in by the end of the month.
  Wong urged the public to surrender the animal to authority as it was an offense to keep Sun Bears in captivity or as pets.
 “They are forest-dependent species and play important roles in the forest ecosystem as seed dispersers in the forest. Their roles are akin to engineers, doctors and farmers in the forest’s ecosystem. They keep our forests healthy, for the benefit of humans and all life forms,”.
  Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said those found to be keeping the sun bear any of its body parts could be jailed up to five years or be fined a maximum of RM50,000, if convicted.
  “Habitat loss and poaching for parts used in traditional medicine are among key threats that have led to a severe decline of the sun bear population in the last three decades in Sabah.
  “Sabah is now at a crossroad, and failure to protect remaining forest reserves would be a deathblow not only for our beautiful sun bears but also many other protected wildlife species such as clouded leopards and Orang utans,” he said.
  The sun bears is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN red list and is at risk of becoming endangered in future.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/features/article/sun-bears-target-of-demand-in-traditional-medicine/

June 21, 2013

 

Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear (pic) continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat, threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.

Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree.

However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree.

They then recover quickly and go about their day.

This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly.

“This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said.

He said in some parts of the world, Asiatic Black Bears are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid.

While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally.

Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores.

“With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild,” he said in a statement here today, to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears.

While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a ‘Totally Protected’ species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List is not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.

Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both.

Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and he cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak.

Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade.

Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet.

To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed.

Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets.

“This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said.

Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC held a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” saw Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears and an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan as well as performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends.

A free documentary screening is scheduled today at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations. – Bernama, June 21, 2013.

Fallacy And Absurdity

June, 20, 2013 – 7:11 pm

Fallacy And Absurdity

With the demand of traditional medicine seekers, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild – BSBCC Wong

By Jaswinder Kler

caged20SANDAKAN: Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat.

The fallacy of the benefits of bile and the idiocy of humans is threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades.

Asiatic Black Bears, for example, are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid.

While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally. Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.

File picture of Sun Bear bile sold at the Gaya Street market in Kota Kinabalu. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

File picture of Sun Bear bile sold at the Gaya Street market in Kota Kinabalu. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

“Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree. However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree. They then recover quickly and go about their day.

“This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly.

“This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said.

With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild, Wong said in a statement to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears.

While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List are not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.

BSBCC founder and CEO Wong Siew Te with rescued Sun Bear, Natalie. As cubs, bears are cute but the law does not allow anyone to keep them as pets. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

BSBCC founder and CEO Wong Siew Te with rescued Sun Bear, Natalie. As cubs, bears are cute but the law does not allow anyone to keep them as pets. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both.

Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak.

Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade.

“Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet. To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed. Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets.

“This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said.

Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC is planning to hold a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

Sun Bears are also sought after for the pet trade, but problems emerge once the bears grow older and become aggressive. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

Sun Bears are also sought after for the pet trade, but problems emerge once the bears grow older and become aggressive. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will see Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears, apart from an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan and performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends.

A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations.

To learn more about Sun Bears, visit www.bsbcc.org.my and Facebook page www.facebook.com/ sunbear.bsbcc.