Category Archives: education

The Best Sun Bear Conservation Crew and an incredible experience

My name is Caitlyn Turner and I am a 4th year Environmental Science student from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. My sun bear experience was shared with two other Environmental students from my university called Hayley and Emma. Our work placement at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) lasted a total of 4 weeks. Before applying for this work placement I had no idea what the situation with the sun bears was like. After spending a month working with the centre staff and the bears, I have learnt a great amount about the species and their importance in the world.

Our journey to Borneo first began on the plane trip over where we had no idea what to expect. I remember feeling nervous, anxious, and extremely excited. When we reached Sandakan it was like we had gone to an entirely different world. Going from living so close to the beach to entirely jungle was going to be a new experience. After leaving the airport we were driven to our accommodation by a taxi driver whom spoke little to no English. This was the second sign that we were no longer in a country like our own and it would be a good time to learn some Malay. When we reached our accommodation at the Sepilok Jungle Resort we were kindly welcomed by the resort staff and were checked-in to our resort room. Our room was simple, but it was perfect for the 3 of us.

The day after arriving we were into our induction at the BSBCC. We had no idea what we would be doing whilst there so we were all very curious and excited to begin. For our first day we were welcomed by the founder and CEO of the centre, Wong. He then left us in the capable hands of another staff member called Nick who kindly guided us through the centre and the bear houses. He explained everything to us and even treated us to a trip to the Orang utan Rehabilitation Centre in the afternoon. Our day at the centre finished with another staff member called Thye Lim giving a presentation which taught us a great deal about the sun bears. It was great being able to learn so much that early in the experience.

The next two weeks of our placement was spent helping out in the visitor centre. We spent our time here and not working in the bear houses as there were 3 interns also volunteering at the centre at this time. Even though we were keen to work with the sun bears it was a good chance for us to learn as much as possible about the bears before getting to experience them close up. Working on the observation platform and talking to visitors at the education booth was definitely a benefit as it allowed us to not only learn more about the bears but we got to teach others about them also. It felt great being able to educate people about the sun bears and to encourage them to support such an amazing conservation project. I think by spending the first 2 weeks doing these jobs I started to become truly passionate about the need for sun bear conservation and it made me determined to inform people about them as much as I could. My time in the centre also allowed me to make a number of wonderful friends with the visitor centre staff and most importantly it was the beginning to the 3 of us feeling like we were part of the team.

My favourite part of each day for the first two weeks was working on the platform. I never knew what I would see or end up learning each day. I remember meeting the cheeky macaques for the first time and at first I thought they were cute but I was soon to learn they are mischievous and dangerous. Lester, one of the centre’s staff, was generally called when there was a monkey problem and it always made me laugh to watch him chase them away. One of the days when coconuts were being given to the bears’ for their afternoon food, there was a macaque which climbed up a tree with one of the large coconuts. It was quite amusing as the coconut could not be opened so he got bored very quickly and dropped it back to the ground. Speaking of coconuts, another favourite of mine was coconut day as the bears are absolutely amazing at tearing the shell apart. Each bear is different with its coconut opening method, for example, some throw the coconut on the ground, others try to tap a hole into it, and others (i.e. Mary) patiently wait for another bear to open it and steal it from them.

When the 3rd week came around we were beyond prepared to work in the bear house. On our first day we were introduced to a new set of rules which were explained by Thye Lim. Then once the basics were understood we were into the hard work. The physical work inside and outside the bear house was explained by a staff member called Azzry. He guided us through everything we would be doing and even helped by making jokes about tasks so we weren’t as nervous. The daily routine was usually an outdoor pen check, clean the enclosures, morning feed out, prepare porridge, afternoon feed out, prepare enrichment and the disperse it to the bears, and finally the evening feed out with porridge and banana leaves. Even though the routine sounds like it would be repetitive, it really wasn’t. Each day I was excited as to what we were going to prepare for enrichment or what we would be giving the bears to eat. I can honestly say there was never a boring day at the bear house.

From our very first day to our last day we were treated with the utter-most kindness and it was like we were part of the BSBCC team. When we were leaving the centre to return to Australia I knew with certainty that I would be coming back to volunteer in the future. This experience has been incredible and I’d like to thank the entire BSBCC team for making the 3 of us feel very welcome and for making our time at the centre one we will never forget. All the staff at the centre were extremely friendly and I couldn’t think of a greater team of people to work with. Thank you.

Giving captive bears in Sabah a better future

Daily Express, 29th December 2014 

Text by Mary Chin

 

Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival (ROR) 2014

The Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival is the first wildlife-focused festival on the island of Borneo. The festival platform marries environmental content with the elements of music, art, dance, workshops and more to bring. The message of conservation and our beautiful biodiversity across to the public.

The wildlife festival was an idea which came about over a casual conservation between new acquaintances in 2009. It got revisit over the years and in 2013, finally got taken up by the Sandakan-based environmental awareness society Future Alam Borneo (FAB). An idea crated by 9 members in the society currently whom share the same love for town of Sandakan and its amazing Bornean biodiversity. This event is support by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Forest Department, the Embassy of the United State of America and numerous corporate among contributions from friends and wildlife.

Preparation for the ROR!!

The two days outdoor festival which started on October 3 and October 4 will be set in the grounds of the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) Sepilok, Sandakan’part of the 4294 hectares, Kabili- Sepilok virgin jungle reserves. The centre was set up as an environmental- education centre in 1996 and is managed by the Sabah Forestry Department.

They created this platform so that the numerous wildlife, forest and marine conservation and research materials can be presented to the public. Presentations will be given by the government, conservation and academic organisation such as the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project, Danau Girang Field Centre, WWF-Malaysia, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Reef Guardian and the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area (SIMCA), Dr Lindsay Porter of University of  St Andrews’s Scotland and pangolin researcher Elisa Panjang.

The two-day event organized by local non-profit Future Alam Borneo (FAB) with performances from singers, musicians and art performers. They included Pink Tan, Amir Yussof Project, Jin Se, Guba, Dairy of Us, DJ Albino Veneto, Cris Aban, Rozella, Carburetor Dung and Orkes Akiuku. Schools performing were SMK Muhibbah which sent gamelan and angklung troupes and Yu Yuan’s drum troupe. Local Lily Linus led Zumba routine and TACKit will showcase a dance performance. Magic Borneo Beads, Pangrok Sulap, Cracko Art Group and illustrator Evi Shelvia were among those who featured their work.

 

Diman from Sandakan FM and Thye Lim from Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was the MC for ROR festival.

SMK Muhibbah which sent gamelan and angklung troupes. Photo by Chin Angel

Orkes Akiuku (Ukulele Group) performing at the Rhythm of Rimba (RoR) Wildlife Festival 2014 at Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) Sandakan Sabah. The Name Akiuku comes from the word “Aki Nabalu”(originally name of the mountain in Sabah) and “Ukulele”. Thank you for the amazing music and perfomance! For more information, please visit to Orkes Akiuku (Sabah Ukulele Group Page) !! This is a group of ukulele lovers at the isle of Borneo. They gather to strum like jumping fleas. They learn songs and jam together. Having fun that’s what They do. And talk about live, love and life as they know it. And of course much more.

Orkes Akiuku (Ukulele Group) performing at the Rhythm of Rimba (RoR) Wildlife Festival 2014 at Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) Sandakan Sabah. The Name Akiuku comes from the word “Aki Nabalu”(originally name of the mountain in Sabah) and “Ukulele”. Thank you for the amazing music and perfomance! For more information, please visit to Orkes Akiuku (Sabah Ukulele Group Page) !! This is a group of ukulele lovers at the isle of Borneo. They gather to strum like jumping fleas. They learn songs and jam together. Having fun that’s what They do. And talk about live, love and life as they know it. And of course much more.

A local jazz finger-style guitarist from Sandakan, Cristopher Aban picked up the guitar at the age of 9. With no formal training, Cristopher learned to play the guitar.Thank you for the amazing music and performance!

The fantastic Rozella Music at the RoR! Rozella Marie is an up and coming singer-songwriter from Kota Kinabalu, who has been active in the local music scene since 2013. Her first solo single ‘Genevieve’ reached No. 2 on the Borneo English Top 10 Charts on Hitz.fm Sabah and while her original composition ‘Shattered Dreams’ won second place in the Song of the Year 2013 international songwriting competition. Her first solo EP is expected to be released in February 2015! Photo by Anton Ngui

The fantastic Rozella Music at the RoR! Rozella Marie is an up and coming singer-songwriter from Kota Kinabalu, who has been active in the local music scene since 2013. Her first solo single ‘Genevieve’ reached No. 2 on the Borneo English Top 10 Charts on Hitz.fm Sabah and while her original composition ‘Shattered Dreams’ won second place in the Song of the Year 2013 international songwriting competition. Her first solo EP is expected to be released in February 2015! Photo by HUTAN-KOCP

TACKit! is a creative conducive space accessible to the public where people of different backgrounds meet and have the opportunity to express what they think and how they feel – flourishing IDEAS into ART, art into WORDS and words into ACTION. As a group, TACKit thrives in revealing the magic of conflict by removing artificial harmony and replacing it with authenticity through progressive art. With a slogan ART IS YOU, TACKit cries out to the KK community to participate! Photo by Anton Ngui

Harjinder Kler, representing HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (HUTAN-KOCP) spreading the words for the Orang-utan at Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival 2014 !!

Gabriel Robert Rawantas, fondly known as ‘Guba’ is a Sabahan singer-songwriter who has been singing his own written compositions for the past 13 years – albeit only to himself in privacy – until now. The path seems to have cleared for Guba’s full-on charge into the hearts and song books of music lovers, all that’s left for you to do is to take up the open invitation to be moved by his music. Photo by Anton Ngui

Nurzafarinah Othman, representing Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), sending the message to protect the world smallest elephant species – The Bornean Pygmy Elephant !!

The festival were welcomed by a beautiful performance from Amir Yussof & friends. Amir now collaborates with BORNEO FUTURES helping to create awareness and disseminate scientific information about the jungles and wildlife in Borneo.

Diary Of Us, thank you for joining us for the RoR Wildlife Festival 2014. Diary Of Us is a brother-sister duo consisting of Scott Daryl Hadjiril & Trysha Gayle Hadjiril. They have recently won 2nd runner-up for Unplugged II, an acoustic singing competition presented by Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

ROR Opening Introduction by Mr. Anton Ngui Photo by Chin Angel

Yu Yuan 24 Drum Troupe Photo by Srap Dsign

Let’s get fit with Zumba!

Let’s get fit with Zumba!

Elisa Panjang She is a pangolin (tenggiling) researcher, from Sandakan and currently doing her Master’s degree with UMS. She is hoping to start with her PhD soon, and will continue focusing on pangolins, a species she has come to love. Thank you for sharing your amazing experience with us !!

Music performances by Pink Tan and Jin Se

Cynthia Ong , CEO & Founder at LEAP (Land Empowerment Animals People) spreading the words about Forever Sabah. This will be delivered through a ground-up, project-based approach organised around four focal areas: Food & Agriculture; Renewable Energy; Tourism; Water, Waste & Soil at Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival 2014.

Thye Lim representing Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) spreading the words for the Sun bear and our centre at Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival 2014.

Thye Lim representing Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) spreading the words for the Sun bear and our centre at Rhythms of Rimba Wildlife Festival 2014.

Music performance by Carburetor Dung Formed back in late ’91. recorded our first song in late ’92 for A Circle Of Friends comp but omitted from the “actual” release. debut gig at The Revenge of the Rats ’93, the first all punk/indie gig for the malaysian underground scene.

Music performance by Carburetor Dung Formed back in late ’91. recorded our first song in late ’92 for A Circle Of Friends comp but omitted from the “actual” release. debut gig at The Revenge of the Rats ’93, the first all punk/indie gig for the malaysian underground scene. Photo by Srap Dsign

Very special limited edition hand drawn sun bear T-shirt by Evi Shelvia.

Artist Evi Shelvia is a busy mother of three wonderful children. She obtained a degree in industrial design and currently pursues her passion for illustration. Winner of multiple international illustration awards including the 2013 Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2013 (AFCC) SKETCH first prize, Evi illustrates children’s books, makes graphical diaries and comic strips, and participates in exhibitions. Visit her at epit-at-home.blogspot.com. Photo by Srap Dsign

Very special limited edition hand drawn sun bear T-shirt by Evi Shelvia.

Ilustrator children’s picture book by Evi Shelvia.

Ranau’s famous exports, this little town has also been rising in altitude as an artistic and community-based hub centred on Pangrok Sulap’s activities. The art collective – firmly adhering to do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos – has come a long way since it first started involving itself in volunteer and outreach work in the rural areas and schools of Sabah. Photo by Srap Dsign

Ranau’s famous exports, this little town has also been rising in altitude as an artistic and community-based hub centred on Pangrok Sulap’s activities. The art collective – firmly adhering to do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos – has come a long way since it first started involving itself in volunteer and outreach work in the rural areas and schools of Sabah. Photo by Srap Dsign

Magic Borneo Beads- Beads have been part of human culture since the dawn of time. It is a traditional artform that is more than just jewelry. In Borneo, beads are our distinct style of cultural expression and a symbol of our identity. Photo by Srap Dsign

Magic Borneo Beads- Beads have been part of human culture since the dawn of time. It is a traditional artform that is more than just jewelry. In Borneo, beads are our distinct style of cultural expression and a symbol of our identity. Photo by Srap Dsign

Wildlife and Conservation Exhibits

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) Booth

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) Booth

HUTAN-Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project Booth Photo by HUTAN-KOCP

 

 

Adding some fire to the ROR!! Photo by Story Moment Photography

Future Alam Borneo hopes it will inspire the audience, and create a whole force of people and energy to support some of the great wildlife and nature movements here on our island. And just maybe one day, we will see a reversal of the damage we have brought about to our natural environment.

Thank you everyone come and support this festival and learn more about Sabah’s wildlife and natural heritage! Let’s continue to RoRrrrr!!

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Saturday

Text and Photos by Wong Siew Te

After a large group of students and their teachers from Pui Gin Kindergarten visited BSBCC this morning, another 60 school students, teachers and their family from St Cecilia Convent High School, Sandakan visited BSBCC in the afternoon. 

Thye Lim gave the students a very interesting and dynamic talk about sun bears and their plight. 

Follow by observing the sun bears in the forest enclosure. I have to say that both groups that visited us today were very lucky to see so many of our sun bears actively on trees and very close by the observation platform.

For sure today there are more and more students and teachers learn about the sun bears and got to see how special sun bears are with their own eyes. 

Soon, more and more people, especially the younger generation from Malaysia will know about the plight of the sun bears.
Soon, more and more people will help the sun bears and their habitat.
Soon, not just the sun bears, but all of us, will be safe!

 

 

 

Pui Gin Kindergarten visiting BSBCC

Text and Photos by Wong Siew Te


60 kindergarten students and teachers from Pui Gin Kindergarten, Mile 7, Sandakan, visited BSBCC this morning. They got to see our sun bears climbing tress, playing on top trees, sleeping and foraging in the forest enclosures from the observation platform.

Even more excited, they got to see the bear from a spotting scope. It is simply amazing to see the reactions and big smiles of the kids watching the sun bears!


The Headmistress of the Pui Jin Kindergarten gave BSBCC a souvenir of appreciation received by Thye Lim, our centre coordinator.

Now, more and more kids know how special and how important is our sun bears and our rainforest.

Thank you for visiting us Pui Gin Kindergarten!

Fulong Means Forest: Our Time with Sun Bears

Oakland Zoo, 3rd January 2014

by Amy Gotliffe

Time with Bears:

 

Fulong means forest in Lundayieh, a tribal language in Borneo. A tiny sun bear cub, the smallest of all bear species, was found in the forest by a hunter’s dog and brought to the master who gave him the name Fulong.  The man kept the bear in a cage as a pet — but when he found out he could give her a better life, he relinquished her to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where we sat this morning in rapt attention as Gloria, the head of education, told us the history of some of the beautiful sun bears at the centre.

Sun bears and the work of Siew Te Wong was our inspiration to embark on a conservation expedition to Borneo in the first place. We have been in full support of his efforts to give a wonderful home to sun bears that all have a different conservation back story. This new center is right next to the Sepilok Orangutan Center and sure to be a hit. Many visitors to Borneo know about Orangutans, and now many will know about this amazing bear.

After six years of helping Wong work as the founder and raise funds for this center, it is a THRILL for our group to be here to help them get ready for their soft opening to the public in January. After a survey of our skills and their needs — Gloria and I put together a schedule – and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work!

What a day we are having! In the rain and heat, one group is moving gravel with shovels and wheelbarrows, watching for venomous snakes and tiger leeches. Another is in the bear house, chopping diets of banana, papaya, green beans – and heating an oatmeal-like super nutritious bear meal. Some even enjoy cleaning the night houses in this sparkling new facility.

Carol and Jereld are off with Ling Mai to set up camera traps. We then work with her to create a matrix for observing bears which we will try out this afternoon. Diana then helps create a program to illustrate the data that will be gathered. Carol and Rob sit together at a laptop editing copy for the educational signage for hours and hours, quite happily. Tina then gives her ideas around signage design. We hardly want to break for lunch, but we do, ‘cause it is hot and we have worked up quite an appetite.


After lunch with the bear staff, Lovesong and Mary go off with the bear keepers, exchanging stories and ideas on how to best care for a sun bear. A crew works with Gloria to envision the visitor center’s future displays and interactives. Another crew gathers around Ernie to discuss the gift shop and other ways to bring in extra funds to the program. Apparently t-shirts and postcards are the big sellers, but creativity is flowing. I get to download about education programs, volunteer positions and conservation action and messaging. I also got the pleasure of taking portraits of the staff for their website.

As the afternoon rolls along, I feel so fortunate to have gotten to be here on this day atthis time in the center’s history. What a joy to share what we could with them, and how inspiring to meet this talented and dedicated staff who shared so much with us. We are all lucky, especially bears like Fulong!

 

Local Primary School Visit to BSBCC

We are very grateful that we are visited by the students from the local school SJK (C) Tai Tong. A total of 103 students with 19 school teachers turned up. We really had a fun time and are so glad to share the stories of the sun bears to these kids!

Introducing the 8 bear species of the world

The expressions of the kids when seeing a picture of a sun bear extending its long tongue

Although packed with very busy schedules, we are so glad that Wong could spare some time to meet these kids!

They also get to see Mamatai climb up a tree from a close distance!

Giving away little gifts for answering quiz questions correctly!

He won some sun bear stickers!

 

 

 

Team Retreat for BSBCC

In preparation for our upcoming sixth year of operating as the BSBCC, and our transition into being a fully-functioning education center that will be open to the public 7 days a week, we took an important day-and-a-half out of our busy bear schedule for a staff retreat.  We were very grateful to accept facilitation for the retreat from our partner organization LEAP (Land Empowerment Animal People) and leadership in team communication throughout the retreat from LEAP’s CEO and founder, Cynthia Ong.

During our time at the retreat, we created a timeline of each team member’s introduction with the centre, along with positive and negative experiences, which was inspiring and enlightening for us all. We also spend time discussing various aspects of the BSBCC that affect our overall progress, our ideals for successful rehabilitation and centre management, as well as, aspects that we look forward to developing.  It was an engaging opportunity for the BSBCC team and LEAP to reiterate our mission, goals and vision for a successful centre and healthy transition into the new and improved Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre of 2014 and beyond.

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Toys for sun bears by South Island School, Hong Kong

Text by Gloria Ganang & photo by Tee Thye Lim & Tommy Johnny

The sun bears at BSBCC had a great day playing with enrichments made by the students of South Island School, Hong Kong when they visited the Centre on the 8th October 2013. Being in Borneo for the first time, the students are curious about this least known bear species. They get to learn more detail about the sun bears behavior by making observations on the sun bears in their enclosures.

A total of 21 students with 3 teachers spread around the observation platform, spotted a particular bear and observed their behavior. They were enthusiast to make fun toys or enrichments for the sun bears as soon as they had seen them. Enrichments were made using materials as natural as possible such as spiral ginger leaves, bamboo, fruits, vegetables, hessian sacks and banana leaves. Check out these kids cramping their heads constructing toys for the sun bears!

Apart from making toys for the sun bears, the students also handed some donations for the sun bears!

The students definitely spent a great time with the bears. Thanks to enthusiastic and passionate team from Ape Malaysia (http://apemalaysia.com/) for taking these awesome kids to visit the Centre!

Sabah Hotel raising awareness for the sun bears

Text & photo by Gloria Ganang

We are very privileged to announce the Corporate Partnership of Sabah Hotel with BSBCC. Sabah Hotel is a 4-star hotel located near to the town of Sandakan, Sabah.

An exhibition corner has been set up at the hotel lobby to raise awareness about the sun bears to the  guests & visitors at Sabah Hotel.

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The location of the BSBCC exhibition corner at the Sabah Hotel lobby.

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Clips about the sun bears & BSBCC were also shown at the exhibition corner.

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BSBCC brochures & donation box.

Apart from the exhibition corner, the Sabah Hotel also promotes BSBCC through their e-commerce avenues (eg: website, FaceBook, email blast, SMS blast) to their guests & diners. Thank you Sabah Hotel for the efforts to help the sun bears through BSBCC.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank  Ayesha Keshani Gergis for coming up with a brilliant design for this exhibition. We really appreciate your hard work to promote the sun bears for the Centre.