Category Archives: BSBCC in the news

Lawa is Home At Last : Second Rehabilitated Sun Bear Returns to the Wild in Sabah

Text by Seng Yen Wah & Chiew Lin May
Photos by Tee Thye Lim & Chiew Lin May

One day in May 2008, a one year old female sun bear cub came from Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo named Lawa to Sepilok. She had a beautiful face which would catch your eye. But, how does such a gorgeous bear end up at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre? Normally, cubs stay with their mothers until they are two to three years old. However, in Lawa’s case, she was separated cruelly by killing the mother in order to get a cute sun bear cub, kept illegal as pet or sold on the illegal wildlife pet trade. Sun bear populations are estimated to have declined over 30% in the last three decades, leading for those bears being in danger of imminent extinction in the wild very real. Now, sun bears have been stated as totally protected species under Sabah Wildlife Enactment in 1997. People who keep them illegally and hunting them, will be fined up to RM50,000 and can be send to jail for 5 years, or both.

Lawa lost her mother when she was still a cub. She had no chance to learn the natural survival skills from her mother. The BSBCC provided her with a second chance, reintroducing her to natural forest enclosures.  Lawa has grown into a smart, agile and independent bear. She is now nine years old, weighs 40.5 kg. She has spend most of her days eagerly exploring up in the trees. She can make beautiful tree nests by using liana and tree branches. Nest building is one of the important but rare survival skills of a wild bear. After six years going through rehabilitation at the BSBCC there is now a happy ending for Lawa as she has acquired many vital survival skills and she is ready to return to her real forest home.

Release candidates are chosen based on their age and survival skills. They have to be fit in four conditions, they need to know how to forage, climb, nest building and lastly, the most important condition is they need to not attach to human and know how to avoid humans, in order to be at low risk of being killed by poachers or turn into a nuisance bear.

Health check starts with Lawa being put on anesthesia by Dr Rosa Sipangkui, Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarian.

On 24th July 2016, the BSBCC is preparing the final stage for the release of Lawa to a core area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Located in the Lahad Datu, Sabah encompasses 120500 hectares of pristine rainforest. Before the big day, the bear team again needed to find Lawa in Pen G at 4 pm. Dr. Rosa Sipangkui, a veterinarian from the Sabah Wildlife Department, sedated Lawa. Once sedated, Lawa was moved from Pen G to bear house in order to undergo a full medical examination to ensure she is in good health before her release. Besides that, Wong Siew Te, BSBCC Founder and CEO made sure that Lawa’s satellite collar is functioning and well fitted on her. Finally, Lawa was moved into the translocation cage. She was then placed at the bear house area for a night. Our bear care keepers spent the night monitoring Lawa. She might not have known it, but after today her life will be totally different!

Dr. Rosa and bear team enter the forest enclosure to prepare dart Lawa.

After sedation, Lawa is carried out of from her forest enclosure for a medical check up.

First part of the process is the weighing Lawa.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

Teeth and mouth are checked.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

Dr. Rosa, Wong Siew Te and BSBCC team perform a full health check on the bears’ health to make sure Lawa is fully ready for the reintroduction.

When all the data has been collected and recorded, Lawa is placed into a translocation cage.

When all the data has been collected and recorded, Lawa is placed into a translocation cage.

It is time to go! On 25th July 2016, when it was still dark, the bear release team was getting ready to depart from Sandakan to Tabin Wildlife Reserves on two trucks, taking Lawa to her second chance in the wild. The release team started in full force for the release of second sun bear back into the wild.

Lawa is loaded on a truck for the ride to a new home in the wild.

The team arrived at Tabin Wildlife Reserve Headquarter at 8.15 am. The morning sun and clear sky reminded us to start moving.

When arrive the entrance of Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lawa peeks out!!

Sabah Air Aviation Sdn. Bhd Bell 206 Jetranger landed at Tabin Wildlife Reserve Headquarter.

This year our release team will be using helicopter model Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd (Bell 206 B3) Jetranger Underslung to reach our final destination.

Discussion on Lawa release operation.

We made the final release preparation and inspections to ensure the safety. The operation was split into two difference trips. The first trips, the team entered the mud volcano of Tabin forest to evaluate and identify the suitable release site.

Aerial View of Tabin KM-22 Mud Volcano.

They checked the wrapping net thoroughly.  After final checks on Lawa by Dr. Rosa and Wong Siew Te, the team took the transportation cage and loaded it into the wrapping net. The process went smooth.

At 10.15 am, Wong Siew Te (BSBCC CEO & Founder) and Lawa was finally lifted up into the blue sky, heading to Tabin mud volcano. At 10.35 am, Bell 206 Jetranger that carrying Lawa landed safely on the Tabin mud volcano.

The weather cleared as it felt the joy of welcoming Lawa to her true home in the Tabin forest

The Bell 206 Jetranger Helicopter carrying Lawa in her translocation cage landed safely on the Tabin mud volcano.

The arrival of Lawa was greeted by the sound of birds in Tabin Widlife Reserve. The sights, sounds and smells of Tabin Wildlife Reserve will be very new for Lawa. Immediately Lawa was taken to the release side by BSBCC team. Lawa looked well rested, happy and ready. She realized there were so many higher trees in pristine rainforest around her. She will soon free and ready to live a new life as a true wild sun bear!

Could not wait to be free in the forest!

The experience Lawa has gathered during six years at the rehabilitation center will help her explore her true home in the core area of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.

The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.

The team is carrying the translocation cage into the release site inside the forest.

Wong Siew Te is feeding Lawa with honey water.

After everything was set up, the moment to open the door and let Lawa take a deep breath with the sense of freedom arrived. Once the translocation cage was opened at 11.10 am , Lawa run out of the cage quickly. She was very fast, directly heading into the deep forest! We hope the best for her now! She will be starting to explore, forage and adjust to her new habitat. It was an emotional moment for all of us watching her walk away from the transportation cage and – off course – us. One moment we could still see her and at the blink of an eye, she disappeared into the tall trees. She finally home, in the forest. Enjoy your freedom Lawa! May you have a long and happy life there! Our bear care team will carefully monitor her progress via her satellite collar.

Sun bears are forest animals. They are playing important roles in the forest. They are forest gardeners. After they consume fruits, they travel along and disperse the seeds in the forest. They carry the seeds away from the mother tree, so that the seed has a higher survival rate. Next, they are forest engineers. Sun bears are excellent climber. One of the reasons that they climb up a tree is because they want to harvest the honey from bee hives. They will use their strong canine and sharp claws to tear off the tree trunk and get the honey inside. After that, it will create a cavity that provides a resting place to other animals like hornbills and flying squirrel. Besides that, they also are forest doctors. Termites are small insects which eventually cause a tree to get sick or die. This is because some termite species will build their nest inside the trees. But, sun bears eat termites. So, sun bears can help to control the population of termites and keep the forest healthy. Last but not least, they are forest farmers, because they are good diggers. They do a lot of digging which can actually help to mix up poor soil and rich soil to enhance the nutrient cycle in the forest. And, that is why we call them “the keystone species”.  Lawa is now been released in the forest. She is carrying out a very important task. This is what she needs, the forest and the freedom.

Lawa is ready to embark on a new journey: living in the wild.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge Thank Yous to the most amazing partner, the Sabah Wildlife Department, Dr.Rosa Sipangkui, the Sabah Forestry Department, LEAP, the Tabin Rangers, the BSBCC team, our volunteers and Brad Josephs who help fundraise and Kynite Filming Crews who helped and supported us generously with Lawa’s release. Thanks to the years of hard work spent rehabilitating Lawa, she will have the opportunity to roam free in the wild, back where she belongs. Reintroduction programs for sun bears are very costly. We need your support to protect this magnificent species from extinction. Help us release more sun bear back to wild by donating at www.bsbcc.org.my. You can make a difference in the future survival of sun bears!

 

Orphaned Bear Cub finds a new Home

Clean Malaysia, 31st March 2016

A rescued sun bear cub plays with a twig at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan. Photo Credit: BSBCC

The two-month-old sun bear cub was found lifeless and alone in a forest reserve in Pinangah, in Sabah. The forest workers who discovered her called the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), an officer of which drove the little bear to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sandakan. There, the cub, named Wawa by the officer, is now bouncing back, thanks to round-the-clock care.

Wawa is the 48th rescued sun bear to have arrived at the center, which was founded in Sabah in 2008 with the aim of providing care and rehabilitation programs for bears rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife traffickers. The center also provides a home for orphaned cubs like Wawa as well as for older captive bears that cannot be released back into the wild. The non-profit sports well-equipped facilities and has built spacious enclosures with plenty of leafy roaming grounds for the vivacious bears in its care.

“Our department would like to issue a stern warning to those who continue to poach sun bears and other protected wildlife species.” Baya said.“We will take action against those who are found to be involved in such activities.”

The center’s CEO Wong Siew Te feeds Wawa from a bottle. Photo Credit: BSBCC

 

 

Rescued sun bear cub finds new home at BSBCC

The Sundaily, 23rd March 2016

SANDAKAN: Found alone in a forest reserve in Pinangah, within the Telupid district, a female sun bear cub believed to be about two months old is now settling into her new home at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) here.

Named “Wawa” by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) officer who drove her to the centre last Friday, the cub is currently under quarantine and is reported to be improving in terms of her health.

The cub was found lifeless on March 11 by forest workers. said BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te in a joint statement from SWD today.

Wawa is the 48th rescued sun bear to have arrived at the centre.

Describing the fact that Wawa was found alone as worrying, SWD director William Baya said: “Orphans are rescued and sent to BSBCC from time to time, indicating that their mother may have been killed for their parts as part of an illegal trade business.

“There are no medicinal values of consuming Sun bear parts.”

He said they would take action against those who continue to poach sun bears and other protected wildlife species.

Offenders may face penalty of up to five years’ jail term or a maximum of RM50,000 fine, or both, he added. — Bernama

Orphaned sun bear cub rescued from Sabah forest reserve

New Straits Times, 23rd March 2016

SANDAKAN: A young female sun bear was rescued from a forest reserve in Pinangah, Telupid here.

The bear, found weak and almost lifeless, is now recuperating well at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sepilok here.

Named “Wawa” by the Sabah Wildlife Department officer who drove her to the centre last Friday, the cub is currently under quarantine and is said to be improving in terms of her health.

BSBCC Chief Executive Officer Wong Siew Te said the cub was found on March 11 by workers conducting forest monitoring.

They subsequently took the cub to an office operated under the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16 before it was surrendered to the department that later sent the bear to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park near Kota Kinabalu the following day.

“Based on details given to us, Wawa appeared to be weak when she was found. Those who brought her to safety decided it would be best to only give her some water to drink.

“After several days, she arrived at BSBCC and although she was exhausted from the six hour drive, she was feisty enough to bark at our staff.

“Wawa is still weak and dehydrated but she is adapting well. We have been giving her constant care and we hope that she will become stronger in the days to come,” Wong said.

He added that it was very unlikely for a sun bear to abandon her cub and that it was not known what had happened to Wawa’s mother.

?“BSBCC is taking up the challenge to raise this bear and to teach her all that she needs to know before she returns to her natural habitat as an adult,” he said adding that this was the 48th rescued sun bear to have arrived at the centre. He reiterated that it is an offence under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 to hunt or to keep sun bears.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Chief Executive Officer Wong Siew Te botthe feeding the bear at the centre. Picture courtesy of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Rescued Sun Bear Cub Finds New Home At BSBCC

SANDAKAN, March 23 (Bernama) — Found alone in a forest reserve in Pinangah within the Telupid district, a female sun bear cub believed to be about two months old is now settling into her new home at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), here.

Named “Wawa” by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) officer who drove her to the centre last Friday, the cub is currently under quarantine and is reported to be improving in terms of her health.

BSBCC chief executive officer, Wong Siew Te said the cub was found lifeless on March 11 by forest workers.

He said the workers took the cub to the office of the Forest Management Unit (FMU) 16, where she spent the night before being surrendered to SWD which then took her to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park near Kota Kinabalu the following day.

“Based on details given to us, Wawa appeared to be weak when she was found and those who brought her to safety decided it would be best to only give her some water to drink.

“After several days, she arrived at BSBCC and although she was exhausted from the long six hour drive, she was feisty enough to bark at our staff.

“Wawa is still weak and dehydrated but she is adapting well. We have been giving her constant care and we hope that she will become stronger in the days to come,” he said in a joint statement from SWD and BSBCC, Wednesday.

He added that it was very unlikely for a sun bear to abandon her cub and that it was not known what had happened to Wawa’s mother.

“BSBCC is taking up the challenge to raise this bear and to teach her all that she needs to know before she returns to her natural habitat as an adult,” he said, adding, Wawa was the 48th rescued sun bear to have arrived at the centre.

It is an offence under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment to hunt or keep sun bears.

Meanwhile, SWD director William Baya said while he was glad that Wawa had made it safely to BSBCC, the fact that she was found alone was worrying.

“Orphans are rescued and sent to BSBCC from time to time, indicating that their mother may have been killed for their parts as part of an illegal trade business.

“There are no medicinal values of consuming Sun bear parts. Our department would like to issue a stern warning to those who continue to poach sun bears and other protected wildlife species.

“We will take action against those who are found to be involved in such activities. Offenders may face penalty of up to five years’ jail term or a maximum of RM50,000 fine, or both,” he said.

The cost of caring for Sun Bears that end up at BSBCC is huge and the centre is appealing for public support through donations or by adopting the animals.

— BERNAMA

Wawa Kini Mempunyai Rumah Baharu

Berita Wilayah, 23 March 2016

SANDAKAN, 23 Mac (Bernama) — ‘Wawa’ yang ditemui keseorangan di kawasan hutan simpan di Pinangah dalam daerah Telupid pada 11 Mac lalu kini mempunyai rumah baharu di Pusat Pusat Pemuliharaan Beruang Madu Borneo (BSBCC) di sini.

Anak beruang madu betina ini yang berumur dua bulan dibawa ke pusat itu Jumaat lalu dan kini dikuarantin dan dilapor bertambah baik kesihatannya.

Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif BSBCC, Wong Siew Te berkata anak beruang itu pada mulanya ditemui oleh pekerja hutan.

“Wawa masih lemah tapi dapat menyesuaikan diri dengan keadaan sekitar,” katanya.

Beliau berkata tidak mungkin ibu Wawa meninggalkannya yang tidak diketahui apa yang berlaku kepada ibunya.

BSBCC akan membesarkan Wawa sebelum ia dikembalikan ke dalam hutan apabila besar, katanya.

Wawa merupakan beruang madu yang ke-48 yang ditempatkan di BSBCC.

— BERNAMA

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.

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Sin Chew Daily ??????, 27th May 2015

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Asia Times ??????, 26th May 2015