Category Archives: education

Make a life by what we give

Text by Thong Wai Keen
Photos by Seng Yen Wah

Dear all,
Hi, I am Thong Wai Keen from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am a conservation biology student from the University of Malaysia Sabah. The reason I decided to volunteer in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is that I am convinced that a good center itself will be a great platform for a fresh graduate to learn and apply what I studied back in the University.

To some of us, volunteering may be something that allows us to earn a wonderful lifetime experience with the beautiful animals and spectacular nature. In my experience, I realised volunteering is simply giving and sharing what you have with those who are in need. It can be your time, your money or even your love to the mother nature. For me, volunteering is working on animal welfare with lots of patient and persistence are needed.

I served in two roles as part of my work with the volunteering program. Taking good care of the bears and their welfare is one of our major works. I assisted the staff in cleaning cages, preparing food, feeding, fence training and making bear enrichment. I learned to treat the bears with extra care and respect. It’s amazing to see the bears eat well and growing healthy in a clean environment.

I am helping on fence training for Dodop and Wawa.

I am helping on fence training for Dodop and Wawa.

Time for making bear enrichment!

Time for making bears enrichment!

Time for making bear enrichment!

Time for making bear enrichment!

Time for making bear enrichment!

Time for making bear enrichment!

Time for making bear enrichment!

I was also educating the visitors by conveying the information about sun bears to them on the platform. It’s a natural role for me as I really love to share my knowledge with people and it’s really satisfying to see the visitors so interested in the fun facts about sun bears. After all, making visitors to understand and share with the world that sun bear does not belong to us, the zoo, the center but the forest is what matters the most. I believe the power of education can create a stronger sense of conservation within people to share an awareness to save our wildlife and our planet.

Last but not least, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Dr. Wong Siew Te, the founder of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), the Sabah Wildlife Department, Land Empowerment Animal and People (LEAP), Sime Darby and all the BSBCC staff for working so hard to save sun bears and dedicated to release all of them back into the wild. Thank you!

Best,

Thong Wai Keen

My time at BSBCC

Text and Photos by Estee Lim Siew Teow

Sun bear is not a pet, not for cuddle nor taking any close up photo with … this is the only way to take photo with sun bear  like below.

I was ex volunteer for BSBCC four years ago …prior that I had no idea about sun bear this type of species, and their existing in Borneo as well , like many other Malaysian !!

I was introduced to BSBCC and to Mr Wong by my old classmate, we came to this centre together as volunteers for two weeks ! At that time there was only four staff in BSBCC, including Mr Wong, plus few volunteers and 20 sun bears. To be honest I had great time and experience working at the Bears house, on the same time came to know more about sun bears and other wildlife in Borneo !!

Four years later (2016) I came to visit to BSBCC and be one of the volunteers again during my six months sabbatical leave,  I have witnessed a huge transformation of BSBCC before and after it open to public. The centre even have second viewing platform, what an exciting news !! Congratulation to Mr Wong and good job to the A team.

Proud to be part of the A team, even only for more than one week volunteering at the BSBCC.

The first viewing platform

Ariel walkway to 2nd platform …me with the spotting camera !! So cool ….

 

This time I was not involved in Bear house to care for sun bears, coz they had enough volunteers in the bear house and I was here only for  short period !! On the other hand, it was a good sign to show that more young people are involving in voluntary work at BSBCC.

I was allocated to education team with Gloria , Jeremy and Inna …All of them are friendly, nice and helpful !!! Learning a lot during the time at the viewing platform when they talked to people about the individual sun bear and the centre.

Inna and the kids from kindergarten

I felt comfortable to answering questions for the visitors after few times I was at the viewing platform with Gloria and Inna. I also managed to operate the spotting camera and help visitors to take closed up photos of sun bears.

Sun bear was resting at the tree. Photo was taken through spotting camera.

Sun bear was climbing the tree. Photo taken at the 1st viewing platform

Involving in the project of the 3 difference positions of the sun bear sculptures …Hopefully for my next visit 4 years later I can see the end result !!!

Involving in the project of the 3 difference positions of the sun bear sculptures …Hopefully for my next visit 4 years later I can see the end result !!!

Big and miniatures sun bears sculptures. So cute …..Get ready the miniature paper craft sun bear for ROR festival.

I was lucky to be able to involve in the 3rd year ROR festival (Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival). My first time to teach people how to make paper craft …. first craft to make a sun bear !

D.I.Y paper craft sun bear and painting mask done by the visitors at ROR festival ….. nice to chit chat with the young and adult visitors ! Quite a good response of making DIY hand craft sun bear from the adult and teenagers.

ROR festival 20/8 to 21/8/2016

Fun at ROR festival….

Selfies….everyone smile !

Dancing in the rain …..I was just watching only.

My favourite little girl ….

First couple who made the paper craft sun bears …..they enjoyed this activity.

Helping Inna at the ROR festival during the film showing for the kids from Chinese kindergarten and their parents….. Explaining to some of the kids in Chinese !!!

Helping Inna at the ROR festival during the film showing for the kids from Chinese kindergarten and their parents….. Explaining to some of the kids in Chinese !!!

Me and Gloria at RDC in the evening….waiting for the red giant flying squirrel. At last I saw it flying …

Morning view at Kinabatangan river

In front of Gomantong Cave

During my volunteering time at BSBCC, I managed to make a 2 day one night trip to Kinabatangan river and Gomantong cave on my day off, to see the wildlife and back to nature.

Time flies my short period volunteering time at BSBCC end quickly…I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Mr Wong and his team members for having me at BSBCC.

I hope I will come back again in the near future …

The Bare Necessities about Bornean bears

Text and Photos by Jessica Prestage

My name is Jessica Prestage, I’m 18 years old and I am from England. I have just completed a two week volunteering programme at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sandakan. I finished school in May and I will be starting university in September. During this break, I wanted to make the most of my long summer holiday by volunteering somewhere new, that would allow me to learn about a different country and the conservation systems there. I looked at the opportunities available with a travel gap year company called ‘Oyster’. They have a lot of varied projects, but working with sun bears stood out as the most interesting. At first, I was unsure whether I would be able to travel to Borneo for this project, as it requires a long journey – in total, over 15 hours on a plane. But I decided that I could not pass up the chance to come out here and spend two weeks working with the team to care for, monitor and learn about sun bears. An opportunity like this may not come round again, so I selected this project and started booking it.

On my first day working at the centre, I was shown around with the other volunteer, Jackie. We were both part of the volunteer programme organised by APE Malaysia. Soon after our tour, we started working; the days followed a schedule, which rotated in order to allow everyone to help with different aspects of the bear house. In the morning, the tasks included husbandry (cleaning the cages), which was separated into bear house one and bear house two, preparing food in the kitchen and fence checks. This also meant that every day we worked with different team members, allowing us to get to know each other and work together. The afternoons consisted of creating enrichment; enrichment is what is used to engage the bears’ natural instincts of climbing, foraging and exploring. There were a wide range of materials that we had available to create enrichment, such as old fire hoses, donated by local fire stations, tyres, logs and branches, and bamboo. I enjoyed creating the enrichment, but personally I found the dry cages the most rewarding form of enrichment. Creating a dry cage involves laying a bed of dry leaves, collected the previous day, and adding logs and branches to mimic a forest environment. We also added log feeders, which is simply a log with holes drilled into it, each filled with treats. The normal treats used in enrichment to entice the bears to investigate and engage with it are honey, peanut butter, bananas, dog treats and banana leaves. These have strong smells, added to which the bears enjoy them – consequently the enrichment is regularly destroyed in order to access every crumb of food! The dry cage is my favourite enrichment because as soon as the bears are let back into the cage, they start exploring, digging and ripping open the logs. Dog treats and mealworms are scattered in the leaves to encourage foraging, which is often the first thing they do. It is rewarding when the bears do this as it shows that they still have their instincts and have a high chance of being released back into the wild.

In this photo, Mark and myself are creating a log feeder for the dry cage we created for Wan Wan. The reason for the cameraman also featured in this photo is that for two days we were filmed creating enrichment, for a series called Bornean Rangers. The idea of this is to show the process of rehabilitation at the centre and demonstrate how volunteers can help.

Working as part of the team here was a fantastic experience – as a volunteer, initially I was worried that I would slow the work down and be in the way, but I was quickly just another member of the team. Everyone was very welcoming, and I felt accepted as a team member and a friend. Although I was the only English person on site, everyone was eager to talk to me, asking questions about England and finding out about me. In the first few days, I struggled to adapt to the heat; this meant that I had to have regular breaks and drink a lot of water. Everyone kept an eye on me and checked on me, asking if I was okay, which made me feel comfortable and looked after. I knew that if I did have a problem, I could talk to them. However, I did not have any problems throughout the project – the team are friendly, funny and always up for a laugh. This made my time here more enjoyable, as I was getting to know people and making friends, whilst working with the bears.

This was taken the same day, on our way back down to the main bear house. We had our expert driver in front, Roger, three passengers, (WaWa, Jackie and myself), and the engine was Azzry, pushing us down the slope. This may have been a less sensible idea, as we didn’t quite manage to turn successfully at the bottom of the slope

So perhaps this wasn’t the best idea, but it was fun and we were all laughing for a long time afterwards!

During my two weeks at the conservation centre, I got to know most of the bears. Initially, I memorised the names based on which cages they were in, but as the two weeks progressed I learnt more about each bear. Their chest marks are like our fingerprints; each one is unique and can be used to identify the bear. The size, shape and colour can vary. However, some of the older bears do not climb so much, so they are recognised by their faces and behaviour more than the chest marks. I found it interesting as I got to know more of the bears, as they are all so different. Knowing their personalities made it possible to create enrichment for specific bears to try to engage them for as long as possible. Naturally, I had a favourite; but doesn’t everyone? I became fond of Along, as he was always sitting on the hanging log or hammock in his cage, watching what was going on. He’s a handsome bear, and as with most of the bears in the centre, I hope that he will be released into the wild in the near future. Some of the older bears cannot be rehabilitated, but I can’t imagine a better place for them to live than here at the centre. The staff are incredible and the facilities are brilliant; the bears have all they could ask for and more. I am so lucky to have been able to spend time here with such passionate people, who care so much for the future of these bears and other wildlife that is at risk due to human presence and actions in the natural environments. I have learnt a lot during the project and I hope to return someday to see the progress here and to see my friends again!

I cannot thank the BSBCC enough for giving me this opportunity. It’s been an unforgettable experience, with amazing people. Good luck for the future and I hope to see you again soon!

Fortnight in the Forest

Text & Photos by Nicola Chin


My two weeks at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre could be described in many ways: hard work, eventful, fun, enriching, etc. Ultimately, it was a wholesome experience I have absolutely no regrets about, and I’d like to tell you about what I did there, and why it was worth it.
Full days of work were the norm, with a large range of tasks that went towards maintaining the facilities both indoors and outdoors (cleaning and fence checks), keeping the bears well-fed and occupied (food preparation, feeding and enrichment, more on that later), as well as other projects that would go towards improving the lives of everyone at the centre. Tiring as they were, me and the other volunteers could go away each day knowing that our work there made a difference.

Among my favourite tasks as a volunteer was enrichment, which involves fashioning objects for the sun bears to interact with, be it a bamboo shoot filled with tasty fruit, or a bed of dried leaves to forage through. Enrichment gives the bears things to do, and teaches them to use their senses and bodies like they would in the wild, which was always fun to watch! My other favourite project was getting to decorate the bear house walls, upon the request of Lin May, one of the bear care staff. As someone who loves art, it was wonderful to be given the opportunity to contribute to the centre with my drawing skills. I painted a series of bears engaged in different enrichment activities, and sketched some more bears in the kitchen; these were then painted by Lester, another one of the BSBCC staff.

Making Bamboo Fence

Education was another important part of the programme. I learned loads about the sun bears, their troubles at the hands of poachers, and their role in the Malaysian forests, and through an educational booth set up in the centre, us volunteers were able to impart our knowledge to the visitors there. This was difficult, because many of the visitors were simply not interested, but it was rewarding whenever someone adopted a bear, or even just went away knowing one more fact about sun bears.

The bears themselves were an interesting bunch! A handful to take care of, they were a delight nevertheless, and the bears’ individual personalities revealed themselves with time and observation. I found that it was best when I appreciated the bears as animals with wild instincts, for both their benefit and mine. But it’s admittedly hard not to call them cute when you see one lying on its back, licking the piece of peanut butter filled fire hose it has cradled in its paws!
The BSBCC team members were helpful, friendly and dedicated; it was clear that they took their respective roles as sun bear carers seriously, as shown by their attention to detail, and how they made sure that us volunteers knew what we were doing every step of the way. Our programme facilitators from APE (Animal Projects and Environmental Education) were very much the same, and I appreciate the effort they put into taking care of me, and ensuring the programme was well organised.

I joined the volunteer programme as a gap year student looking for a project, and came away glad that as a local Malaysian, I was able to play a part in the BSBCC’s mission. The efforts of the team come from noble hearts, and I would highly encourage other Malaysians to try out this volunteer programme for themselves!

Volunteer Period

Text and Photos by Julia Riverstal

Hi, my name is Julia Riverstål I am currently 18 years old and I am from Stockholm, Sweden.I am on my final year at an animal care program in Sweden at Spånga Gymnasium. It is thru my school that I have got this amazing chance to see and actually be a part of the amazing work that they do at the Bornean sun bear conservation centre for a total of 5 weeks.

In April 2015 I visited the centre for 4 days with a few others from my school and it is totally stunning to see the progress that some of the bears have been doing in less than 10 months! When I was here the first time some of the cubs were still in quarantine and to see them high up in the trees at the big bear house is just the best receipt to understand that the centre is really making a difference!

My Swedish immune system have unfortunately not handled the Bornean flora of bacteria so good so I have been sick a lot and sadly I had to stay at home for some time. But even if i were sick and had to stay at home I could still help the centre with translating a Swedish TV program about Sun bears, so at least I could do something. I have never felt so appreciated and welcomed at another place and all of the staff at the centre is just outstanding in their way of showing their appreciation and kindness to the volunteers.

Some of the things that you do is routines and are pretty much the same every day, you clean the cages, prepare the food and feed the bears. But even if you do this every day it is never the same, one day the cage is almost clean and the next day it is filled with enrichment or you just have to clean a cage where there has been a complete poop party, haha! With the feeding, both inside and outside you get a perfect chance to see that everything is good with the bear, not being interested of food is a big indicator that something is wrong. Of course it is just a blast to see the bears playing around trying to crack coconut or to see them lie on their back eating sugar pipes. In the afternoon you focus on doing enrichment and if you ask me this is the most fun thing to do, to build or make something that will keep the bear busy for a while. It is not as easy as it seems, there is a lot of things you have to keep in mind when doing this.  First of all it has to be safe for the bears to play with and then you have to adjust the enrichment to the bear that you are going to give it to and I can tell you that it is a lot of different personalities in those bear houses.  The last week we got to be a part of BSBCC´s educating program, I was able to talk to visitors and spread the word about the sun bears situation and what they do at the centre. Educating the people is just as important as talking care of the bears in the bearhouse and it felt really good and surprisingly I met a whole group of Swedish people!

My time at the centre has been amazing, it has been a roller coaster journey for me as a person but it has opened my eyes and given me perspective that has enriched me as a person! I have would not have changed it for anything and if someone is given the opportunity that I was given, take it, you will not regret it!

I want to thank my school, every staff member of the centre and the sun bears for this amazing journey!
A big Swedish brown bear hug from me!
?
// The pale, chubby and red faced volunteer 😉 <3

Doing bamboo feeders!

I the making of a table for the quarantine and also the result with a Thye lim on top!

Insects, huge insects!

Very sleepy sun bear!

Hungry sun bears!

Some of my new friends.

The weather that welcomed me back to Sweden…

Unforgettable Memories at BSBCC

Text by Leonardo Jainih

Photo by Leonardo Jainih and BSBCC

Hey, my name is Leonardo Jainih and I am now 22 years old. I am here as an internship student from University Malaysia Sabah. First and foremost, I am truly grateful as i was accepted to work and gain knowledges at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). This is a life time opportunity where not anyone can just come and work here. I never regretted that I choose BSBCC to finish my three months internship and this centre is highly recomended to all animal lover out there. So, this unforgettable experience start with fetch by my supervisor, Mr. Tee Thye Lim at the airport and slowly introduced to BSBCC’s founder, Mr. Wong Siew Te and other staffs. After I was explained clearly about the rules and regulations of BSBCC, me and other internship students were brought to explore the surrounding areas of BSBCC from  visitors centre to outside perimeter of forest enclosure. Finally, the end of day, we arrived at the Center’s volunteer house called Bjorn Hala.

Next day, we started working at 8 o’clock in the morning and we were having our induction with the bear keeper, Mr. Roger about the rules and routines at the bear house. Bear house is divided into two areas which are first and second bear house. Every single bear has their own name and usually they got the name either from their previous owner or where the bear was found. At the same time, bear keeper taught us how to clean their cages.

Cleaning bear’s enclosure at bear house one

One of the most interesting and fun thing during cleaning the cages is that you are get the chance to observe yourself in a closer distance their behaviour in the den which is pretty cool. For example, cute little Mary will cling onto the cage waiting patiently for us to feed her, Mamatai the lowered bear struggling to reach her food on top of her cage, Fulung always standing with his two hind leg and Damai whom love to climb her favourite tree whenever she got the chance to be in forest enclosure. On the other hand, you will also continously watched and observed by the bear next to the cage that you were cleaning. They will curiously keep on watching you with the innocent look on their face doing the cleaning but some will just ignored you and continue playing their enrichments.

Working in bear house was never a waste of time as they are so many thing to do other than cleaning cages. For instance, in the morning, preparing food such as plain porridges and fruits for the bear was one of the top prioities as the cleanlinnes in kitchen has to be maintained. Moreover, making enrichments for the bear also ways to minimize stress and abnormal behaviour such as continous pacing. Enrichments includes dried leaves, bamboo feeder, nest balls, wood swing, fire hose hammock and more.

Cut long bamboo into smaller pieces

In making of bamboo feeder with BSBCC staffs

Putting wood swing inside the bear cage

In making of nest balls with BSBCC staffs

Moreover, I was also assigned to become intepreter at the observation platform where I get to talk and explain to the visitors about our centre and the bears. This assignment given actually helps to improve our communication skills and public speaking too. This is where we get to deliver knowledges that we have learned at Centre confidently and get our facts right to the visitors.

Observation platform with visitors

Another routine that I enjoy very much is outdoor feeding where we will usually follow our senior bear keeper, Mr. David to come along with him to feed the bears at the Pen A, B, C, D, F and K with fruits such as papaya, watermelon and banana. Along the way, we scattered the fruits inside the forest enclosures to allow the bears to use their sense of smell to search for the fruits. Here we get to see the bears’s eating behaviour where they will not eat the green part/outer layer of watermelon, didn’t eat the banana peel or the skin on any other fruit. Some are willing to climb all the way down to get their foods as they don’t want to miss their food and stolen by other bears or macaques.

Outdoor feeding at Pen D

Outdoor feeding at Pen C

Bears at Pen D enjoying their foods

Anymore foods for me?!

There is one week that we were all so busy as medical check up was conducted to 5 different bears. We were helped by the Wildlife Rescue Unit and an expert veterinarian, Dr. Sandy during the health check. One of them is Linggam, an adult male sun bear which is currently the heaviest bear among all of our rescued bear with 61kg. I was given an opportunity to take part in his health check and went to clinic at Mile 8, Sandakan for his x-ray appointment.

BSBCC was welcomed to set up an education booth display for an event organized by the Sabah State Computer Service Department at the Sabah Hotel, Sandakan. This event was launched by Y.B Tuan Charles Pang Su Pin, ADUN N44 Karamunting. I was asked to join this education booth to educate the participants and spread the word to them more about sun bears the smallest bear in the world.

Educate the public more about sun bear

Last but not least, my warmest regards goes out to all the staff in BSBCC who have been helpful and supportive in many ways. Every single of you has brought many laughter and put a smile on my face everyday which indirectly lessen my burden and hardship as well as standing by me through thick and thin. Every minutes spent together is special and will be cherished.

My hope is that one day they will confidently walked out and be ready for the wild forest but this is not an easy task. It really requires a huge amount of resources if it is to be done successfully. Therefore, it is very important to help them to remember how to be bears again so that they can survived in the wild without our help.

 

 

Great Experience at BSBCC

Hi, my name is Kelvin Chee from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT). I just finish my study in Conservation & Management of Biodiversity and internship is a part of the requirement for my course. I’m feeling very lucky because can get a placement in BSBCC as many people apply their internship here as well.

This is the first time I visit to Borneo and finally I am here in Sabah!

Still remember upon arrival, the first staff I met was Nick. The funny thing was I do not know whether he can speak mandarin or not, so we just use English to chat. After reached office, only then I know he is a Chinese that can speak in mandarin too. And we just have a week to be friend as he went to further study in France later.

The first day I start to work in the bear house, Thye Lim as my supervisor run an induction to me and I still remember the words that he told me: Don’t think yourself is an intern student, but think yourself as a staff so you motivating yourself to learn and work hard and mix around with the staff. That’s why I start to follow their high pace working schedule on the second day. But that was really amazing because I learnt a lot of stuff especially how to work in a team and time management.

There are many stories to tell but I think I would like to choose some to say here. First what I thought intern here was just joining some outreach program or doing some field work. I don’t even know that intern need to wash the cages everyday! What terrifying is when you working in the kitchen preparing foods for the bears! Preparing the fruits but you can’t eat it under the hot weather and you are in hungry condition. What I mean is you can just easily get hungry during that time. And that smell of sweet corn and sweet potato will make you even hungry! Sometimes I will be duty in the kitchen for the whole week, and that particular week for sure I will buy some fruits from the market to release my tension! Besides that, the time when we making enrichments were really enjoying.  They always make laugh on me when taking bamboo from outside. There is a time when me alone taking the bamboo from the outside of the main gate to the bear house, and it was really harsh to me! As they said this can build my muscles?! Oh…. After two months, it’s really build up my muscle! Wow~ So working in the bear house will definitely train you as fit as possible!

What the saddest thing during the intern was the dead of Bongkud. I remember that was just my second week in here. This is the first time my experience where a bear strike by the lightning and died. It is really shock for me even my bonding with Bongkud was still not close on that time but I knew that she was one of the candidates being targeted to be release into the wild as she can make a nest on the tree. At the moment I just felt that Bongkud was a tragedy in her life story.

I am also very lucky because I am able to look and take part during the bears’ annual health check. During that time I was given an opportunity to assist the bear keeper to record the measurement readings and have the chance to stand besides watching the procedure.

I was glad enough because I am been given the opportunity to join the education team to Pitas, Sabah for the outreach programme too. Three days two nights was amazing and is really fun to interact with the students. This was really meaningful to me as I can be a part of the team to deliver the message to the future generation how important conservation and why we save the sun bears. Besides that, the opportunity to meet with the staff from HUTAN and wildlife department is also valuable to me.

The friends that I met during my intern time were so cool! Thye Lim, Lin May, Azzry, Lester, Roger and others make my day during the time. We always make jokes and laugh at each other and went crazy together. But of course, we are very serious when we are working. Sometimes they will also bring me around in Sandakan, eat and play. It was really fun and thanks for all kind of the activities had planned.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Wong, founder & CEO of BSBCC for giving me the opportunity to learn here and his advices for me always encouraging me to keep on in the conservation field. Thank you very much!

Educational Activities (May-June 2015)

Text and Photos by BSBCC

 

We believe through education or recreation experiences, people can become more interested in knowing their role in conserving wildlife. With that knowledge, they may become better stewards of our biodiversity heritage. At BSBCC, we welcome any group visits to our Centre as they will get to know more about the world’s smallest bear species – the sun bear.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students visit BSBCC

A total of 75 students and their lecturer, Ms. Azniza from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) visited our Centre on the 24th of May. As part of their Wildlife Management course, they made a trip from Kota Kinabalu to Sepilok, Sandakan. After arriving in the afternoon, their visit started off with an introductory presentation by Ms. Gloria Ganang, BSBCC Environmental Education Executive. Mr. Wong Siew Te, was very happy to spend his time with the students at the platform and he was glad to answer all the questions that the students asked. We are always more than excited to share the knowledge and information about sun bears to these potential future wildlife-conservationist!

Gloria gave a talk about the sun bears and our Centre.

Mr. Wong explaining about the roles of sun bear in the forest.

One of the students trying to capture a photo of sun bear through our spotting scope.

Group photo!

Outreach Programme

Besides that, BSBCC Education unit is currently working together with one of the British Council mentor, Ms. Julia Morse who is teaching in four different schools in Sandakan district. After a few meetings with Ms. Julia, we agreed to design a new outreach education programme that focuses on the awareness of the protected animals in Sabah whilst complementing the Primary School Standard Curriculum. Together with few interactive activities such as animal mask colouring, creating a sun bear mini book and wildlife documentary video show, this programme is conducted in both Malay and English language so that it can be easily understood and attractive for school kids to learn English.

 

SK Sg. Padas, Sandakan (9th May 2015) 

Animal mask colouring competition!

Here are the winners!

Ain, BSBCC’s intern interacting with students and parents at our display booth.

 

SK Tanjung Papat 2, Sandakan (16th June 2015) 

Making a sun bear booklet with Gloria and Julia.

A student with his sun bear booklet.

A student comparing his height with a Bornean sun bear.

Mandy, BSBCC’s volunteer helping the students with their masks.

Students lining up with their masks on while the judges pick the best masks during the animal mask making competition!

Working together with the teachers was an absolute pleasure for us as we could exchange ideas and develop more interactive and meaningful activities for the school kids. Hopefully, with this kind of awareness programme, young kids would be more eager to learn more about our wildlife and in future, contribute to any conservation work.

Educational Activities (March – April 2015)

Text and Photos by BSBCC

On the 3rd March, our CEO and Founder, Mr. Wong Siew Te got an interesting call. Paul Kemmett, a teacher from Overseas Family School, Singapore wanted to ‘skype’ Wong with his Fourth grade students (age 9-10 years old). The students wanted to learn about sun bears as their unit of inquiry that focuses on the sustainability of natural environments. Mr. Wong gladly took the call. He showed them the sun bears on the viewing platform and taught them about their plight. Thanks Paul and students for the effort to learn about our endangered sun bears!

Mr. Wong explaining about the vulnerable status and distribution of sun bears to the students.

Mr. Wong showing the students our bears at the forest enclosure by having a live session through Skype.

Mr. Wong showing the students our bears at the forest enclosure by having a live session through Skype.

 

On the other hand, the education team armed with our new BSBCC vests, educational displays like camera traps, paw prints and new banners, went on a long journey to the Kinabatangan district for an outreach programme. The first two schools visited were far inside palm oil estates, and the other two were in Kinabatangan town. This one week programme is organised by HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Programme (KOCP) and accompanied by Sabah Wildlife Department – Kinabatangan district, Sabah Forestry Department – Kinabatangan district, and Sabah Environmental Protection Department (JPAS). It was a big success and the teachers and students were all enjoyed their time with us.

SK Ladang Sg. Bendera, Kinabatangan (24th March 2015) 

Risnayati, BSBCC Environmental Education Officer interacting to the students at the BSBCC booth.

Tan Wei Cheng, BSBCC Centre Coordinator gave a talk about the bears.

The students enjoying wild animal soft toys.

SK Ladang Tomanggong, Kinabatangan (25th March 2015)

Keen students enjoying their time at our educational booth.

Students trying out bear enrichment!

Program was ended up with a group photo.

SK Kota Kinabatangan, Kinabatangan (26th March 2015) 

Primary school kids swarming over the education booths.

Intern student under the Sabah Wildlife Department – Kinabatangan district helping us to explain about the background history of one of our bears named Kuamut.

Dressing up as a clouded leopard!

SK Paris 3, Kinabatangan (27th March 2015) 

Animal mask making activity for the kindergarten kids.

Teachers with their kids wearing animal masks.

Mr. Markiss from HUTAN-KOCP explaining about the orangutan’s diet and eating habits.

 

In addition, on 11th April, BSBCC sent three staff members to SMK Muhibbah for an awareness program in conjunction to Jerayawara, Hari Q and student exhibition. Mr. Lam Tee Jye, who was the teacher in-charge for the Eco-school club welcomed us with open arms. We must admit, the Eco-school club has done a great job on the school environment. Many interested teachers and students came to our booths to ask about the sun bears or our Centre. We were also honored to be invited to give a talk (by Gloria Ganang, BSBCC Environmental Education Executive) to the science-stream students and also introduce our local volunteer programme (by Tan Wei Cheng) to the students. From the presentation, many of the students were interested in helping out in our Centre. Thank you again and hope to see some of you volunteering in our centre soon!

SMK Muhibbah, Sandakan (11th April 2015) 

SMK Muhibbah Principal, Mdm Lim Li Li (second from left) and the teachers visiting our booth.

Curious students looking at the pictures taken from the camera trap.

Gloria gave a talk about the sun bears and our Centre.

Besides that, BSBCC also invited several NGOs and government agencies to join our outreach programme for Sandakan district. But, only HUTAN-KOCP that managed to join our programme due to the tight schedule by several agencies. Starting on 25th April, BSBCC team together with HUTAN-KOCP set up a booth at each school in the programme to raise awareness among students about our rich environmental heritage and wildlife. Throughout the programme, many teachers and students were involved in exhibitions, talks, environmental games and wildlife documentary video shows.

SMK Gum-Gum, Sandakan (25th April 2015) 

HUTAN-KOCP booth.

Collage competition—to create and design orangutan, proboscis monkey or sun bear figure by using natural materials such as coconut husk, branches, dried leaves and soil.

First winner for the collage competition!

SMK Libaran, Sandakan (28th April 2015) 

Let’s play a game!

This is a camera trap!

Second winner for the collage competition!

SK Sungai Manila students loved pretending to be wild animals for the day.

Lester explaining the strength of a bear claw.

Cute little boy wearing a clouded leopard costume.

From this awareness programme, we are thrilled to see that the students, who will be future leaders of our society, were keen to learn about the wildlife in Borneo.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Hello everyone! My name is Garnette Nawin. I’m a 20 year old Sarawakian from East Malaysia. I am from Miri, Sarawak and I’m currently doing my second year of Diploma in Animal Health and Production. It was funny at first when I got lost searching for the BSBCC here in Sepilok, Sandakan, because everything that I had imagined was not as expected. Gladly my supervisor, Thye Lim, never got tired of me asking questions, and just by describing the entrance of BSBCC through the phone, he had successfully showed me the way to the visitors centre. I was so anxious and nervous as it was truly my first experience to be so far away from my hometown doing an internship about the Sun Bears. I was greeted by two very friendly staffs from BSBCC, Rahim (also my housemate) and Fairo, upon my arrival. They showed me around the visitors centre and the staffs’ office and had made me feel like home already. At that time Wong, the CEO and Founder of BSBCC, was not around so the other intern students and I got a short and interesting briefing by Tee Thye Lim, our supervisor in doing the internship programme. He introduced about the background of the centre and also showed us around the Bear Houses.

I got more excited when I got to meet two of the international volunteers which were Tom and Rica, the lovely couple that always warmed my heart with their sweet smiles and guidance. Although I only had the chance to work with them for a few days, they had already made me excited as I’d never had the feeling of working together with adults as a team. What more to say when they are from the other side of the world. Silly me! Haha!

Then, the most exciting part was when I got to see the bears at the observation platform. I have no idea that they existed in Borneo. All I knew was mostly about the Orang Utans and Monkeys. Yes, that’s all I knew. As it was the first time seeing the bears it made me ask multiple questions to Thye Lim and he kindly explained almost everything about them to me. Knowing that I would get the chance to work with the bears the next day had got me more excited. Haha!

Same goes to Lin May as the Researcher and the Reintroduction Officer. As far as I know, she would always be there when I have to consult her with questions and information. To sum it up, all of the staffs here at BSBCC act as a big family and would always be there first when you have any problems. Also, of course safety and healthy are always the “top” ranking being applied when we carried out our work. Work hard, play hard!

Working at the Bear House with the keepers and also workers that were under the bear care unit taught me a lot of unexpected knowledge. I got to know the behaviours and especially the personalities of each bears. Although there are only 35 rescued bears at the moment, I still had difficulty recognizing certain bears from a distance when I was at the observation platform as they have similar body size. Besides that, unlimited enrichment activities are given to the bears, whether it is in the form of food or the opposite way. The centres mission is to let the bears learn by themselves and our job is to provide them with as many things as possible. Each and every bear also have their own proportions of porridge and supplement. This is needed for the particular bears that have a health problem or injuries or wounds.

Working with the supervisor and the other staffs has taught me about punctuality and being disciplined in carry out every day work, even from other aspects. Of course, excuses are totally not allowed! Being here at BSBCC helped me so much in improving my communication and language skills, especially in English. Not just in the form of meeting other international volunteers and countless visitors every day, but in the form of how to approach them and greet them with a warm and sincere smile.

Being here as one of the intern students taught me countless of amazing experiences and not to forget that the challenges were more than I had expected. But for me, that was the fun part. The longer I have stayed here, the more that I have taught myself that there is much more to learn and to learn despite the activities and work being conducted are almost the same every day. Lucky me having got the chance to discover the BSBCC’s website on the internet where it is just one click away! Gaining the precious experiences here has made me wonder that the period of only 10 weeks is not close to enough.

Before saying goodbye, let’s share with you guys some photos I’ve taken during my time at BSBCC!

From the left, Kim (from Sweden), Adlina, Julia (from Sweden), Maryam, Me! This is during Kim and Julia’s visitation and 5 days doing volunteering programme!

This is me being one of the Sun Bear Crew at the observation platform where I got to meet countless international tourists and local visitors to tell them the info about the Sun Bears!

That is me (from the left) with the secondary students during the outreach programme in SMK GUM GUM with the Environmental Education Executive, Gloria Ganang and Rebecca (ticketing staff). It was fun meeting them and raising awareness about the Sun Bears to them!

This is during our lecturer, Dr Kamil’s, visitation on observing our internship programme in BSBCC in the 6th week. From the back, Thye Lim (our supervisor), Dr.Kamil (our lecturer).

It is amazing I captured a photo of one of the bears sleeping peacefully with just my phone through the spotting scope which can show the bears from a very far distance!

Colourful right! This is what I called food porn for the Sun Bears. This was during my scheduled activity for that particular day. Amazing right?

This is one of my favourite moments where I got the chance to celebrate the mini surprise birthday celebration of our CEO And Founder of BSBCC, MR. WONG SIEW TE. P.s He is making a wish. Awhh.

Again, briefing by Mr. Wong Siew Te during the arrival of PERHILITAN.

The mixed group consisted of the PERHILITAN, Volunteer (Kate), Intern students (Me, Maryam, Husna And Adlina), Staff (Roger) and Bear Keeper (David).

Again, food porn! Delicious right? Oopps hahaha.

Working here was not easy, challenges were much to face but I can guarantee there is super extreme fun that awaits you! Grab the precious chance to work with the staffs here in taking care of the bears then spread the news everywhere you go! If I were to tell you about all my experiences during my time here at BSBCC, I could go on for countless pages. Do it for the bears as they have the right to live in the wild again in the future.

 

Regards.