Category Archives: sanctuary

Bermuda touches soil for the first time in more than 10 years

Caged, pet sun bears have a sad life. From the day they were captured and kept as pet, most of them will NEVER touch the soil, climb the trees, and dig the ground again.

Many of our rescued sun bears also have the same fate. However, with our state of the art forest enclosure, the rescued sun bears at BSBCC have the chance to enjoy the forest.

Bermuda, a 10 year old male sun bear at BSBCC, was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department on October 10, 2002. He live on a concrete floor since he was captured from the wild as a little sun bear cub. For him, the ground is always a smooth layer of concrete floor, until today.

 

This is how far Bermuda willing to go on the first day to forest enclosure.

This is how far Bermuda willing to go on the first day to forest enclosure.

Bermuda finally passed his electric fence training lately. We let him out to his forest enclosure for the first time on Valentine Day Feb 14th. We put food, and honey (all time favorite food for bears) on the ramp to encourage/lure him out of his den. What he did that entire day was pocked his head out to reach the food and honey on the ramp without stepping a foot on the ramp.

This is a very pathetic story for all caged sun bears. To all of them, confined and locked up in a small cage is life. They do not know the world beyond the cage. Rain, soil, trees, leaf litters and other natural vegetations and natural elements in the forest all are something that they never come in contact. The only time when they walked on the forest floor was during the first few weeks or months of their life, until their mothers were killed and they were captured by poachers. To them, forest is an alien nation, fills with unknown bugs and unknown noise; the place that is so strange, unsecure and uncertain. All of our adult bears decided to stay inside the den and not wondering into the forest enclosure when we released them out to the forest enclosure for the first time. It sometime took them weeks if not months to wonder out from their den. Only the young once would go out immediately and enjoy the forest without second thoughts.

Bermuda’s reaction when we let him out to the forest enclosure was not exception on Valentine Day. Over the next week or so he still kept himself safe under the protection of his den although the door to forest enclosure was staying open all day long. The food that we left on the ramp and the forest floor has attracted troops of forest bandits – pig-tailed macaques and long-tailed macaques, to enjoy their free meals. Bermuda, sometime I questioned his “male-hood,” just stood in his den and watched his food being stolen away by these intelligent primates.

A smart pig-tailed macaque robbed the food that we placed on the ramp to encourage Bermuda the sun bear out from his den to explore the forest enclosure.

A smart pig-tailed macaque robbed the food that we placed on the ramp to encourage Bermuda the sun bear out from his den to explore the forest enclosure.

Three macaques ganged up to rob food from the bears. The scene is like hyenas gang up to steal lion's prey in African savanna.

Three macaques ganged up to rob food from the bears. The scene is like hyenas gang up to steal lion's prey in African savanna.

The only thing that Bermuda did was watching the bandit took his food and sticks his tongue out!

The only thing that Bermuda did was watching the bandit took his food and sticks his tongue out!

This afternoon as I was writing another blog on Fulung and Mary, Marianne our volunteer from UK rushed into the office, “Bermuda is out to his forest enclosure!” Wai Pak and I grasped our cameras and went down to witness this historic moment. This is the moment where he step foot on the forest floor for the first time in more than 10 years and we do not want to miss that! Although he did not wonder off far from the guillotine door of his den, we can tell from his fast pacing behavior that he was nerves and wanted to go back. Wai Pak then scattered some bread in the enclosure to encourage him foraging and exploring a bit more. He just ate the bread that was close to him without much exploration. After tens of minutes, he finally found his way back to his den and did not come out to explore again.

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Bermuda is finally out to explore the enclosure. Although not much area covered, it is a good try for sure!

Bermuda finally walking on soiled ground, not cemented floor. It may seem nothing for a bear, but for Bermuda, this is a big deal!

Bermuda finally walking on soiled ground, not cemented floor. It may seem nothing for a bear, but for Bermuda, this is a big deal!

That was a good start for a captive sun bear willing to wonder off his den on the 7th day. Gutuk, another old male bear still decided to confine himself in his den although the door to the forest enclosure has been open for the past 3 months. I am sure Bermuda soon will gain more confidence to explore the forest enclosure. What he need is time and encouragement. In BSBCC, we will give him both!

Now everyone can see sun bears in the forest!

After 4 years of idea developing, planning, and more than 3 years of hard working from many people, I am proud to present you the sun bears that we rescued at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre!

 Although not all of our bears are in the forest enclosures, we are working hard to train them so that they can adapt their new life in the forest enclosures soon. These sun bears feed a lot on natural food items such as termites, and ants, in the forest enclosures. Both sightings and scat analysis conformed this observation.

Today I have a great day seeing Cerah, Jelita, and Lawa the sun bears destroying decayed wood to feed on termites, climbing on tree to feed on ants, and digging on soil but do not know what they were after. What I know that they were having a lot of fun, chasing and playing with each other in the dense forest floor!

Thanks to you all and your kind support;

Thanks to all the Bear Action Team volunteers who help us built this and built that;

Thanks to all the husbandry volunteers who help us clean cages, prepare bear food, make enrichments, and take good care of our bears;

Thanks to all the BSBCC staff, especially Wai Pak, and all the LEAP team, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre team, for making the life of our bears better;

Thanks to Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, and LEAP to be the partners of this project;

WE DID IT BECAUSE OF YOU!

Finally, thanks to Peter Yuen for helping us took these photos of our bears in the forest enclosure.

Now everyone can see sun bears in the forest!

You can read more Peter’s Yuen photography work and support BSBCC by buying these photos online:

Blog: http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Blog/BSBCC

Gallery: http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Animals/The-Sun-Bears-of-Borneo

 

~ Siew Te Wong, Founder and CEO, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

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smiling sun bear!

smiling sun bear!

Illegal bear bile trade rampant in Asia

http://www.traffic.org/home/2011/5/11/illegal-bear-bile-trade-rampant-in-asia.html

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 11th May 2011—Poaching and illegal trade of bears, driven largely by the demand for bile, used in traditional medicine and folk remedies continues unabated across Asia on a large scale, a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, has found.

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Bear bile products were found on sale in Traditional Medicine outlets in all but one of the 13 countries/territories surveyed says the report entitled Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia (PDF, 2 MB). The exception is Macao.

Products were most frequently observed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, where they were recorded in over half of all outlets surveyed. The most frequently encountered products were whole bear gall bladders and pills—found in half of the outlets surveyed.

Bears are kept for their bile, used in traditional Asian medicine Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

Bears are kept for their bile, used in traditional Asian medicine Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

TRAFFIC’s research suggests a complex and robust trade in bear products. Several of the countries/territories surveyed were either producers or consumers of bear bile products, while in some cases they acted as both.

Mainland China was the most commonly reported place of origin for these products across the region.

In Myanmar, internationally sourced gall bladders were reported to come solely from Lao PDR; in Hong Kong, in cases where the source was known, products were reported to have originated in Japan and over half of those offered for sale in the South Korea were from wild sources in Russia.

Domestic trade of bear bile is legal under strict regulation within mainland China and Japan but is illegal in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. Regardless of the legality of trade within countries, international trade is not allowed.

Asiatic Black Bears (predominant in this trade) and Sun Bears are both listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which prohibits international commercial trade in the species, its parts and derivatives.

An analysis of the origin of bear bile products found in these surveys makes it clear that import and export regulations are commonly flouted demonstrating a failure to implement CITES requirements to stop illegal international bear bile trade effectively and protect bears from exploitation.

“Unbridled illegal trade in bear parts and products continues to undermine CITES which should be the world’s most powerful tool to regulate cross-border wildlife trade,” said Kaitlyn-Elizabeth Foley, lead author of the report and Senior Programme Officer of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

The study found that the vast majority of the bear farms surveyed in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam did not have captive breeding programmes, suggesting they depend on bears captured from the wild.

“The study makes a clear case for authorities to shut down businesses selling illegal bear products and prosecute individuals caught selling, buying, transporting or keeping bears illegally,” said Foley.

“Both the Asiatic Black Bear and the Sun Bear are threatened by poaching and illegal trade. The demand for bile is one of the greatest drivers behind this trade and must be reduced if bear conservation efforts are to succeed,” added Foley.

“Even legal bear bile producers are circumventing domestic and international regulations by exporting products internationally,” said Dr Jill Robinson MBE, Founder and CEO of Animals Asia Foundation, which rescues bears from farms in China and Viet Nam.

“This report, in addition to Animals Asia’s years of research, shows that the bear bile industry is engaging in illegal practices. As pressure mounts on the wild bear population, there are serious questions to be answered on the welfare and pathology of farmed bears, and the risks to human health in those who consume the contaminated bile from such sick and diseased bears,” said Robinson.

ENDS

Notes:
The study’s main findings are:
•    Bear bile products were observed in traditional medicine outlets in 12 out of 13 Asian countries/territories surveyed
•    Bear bile products were available at 50% or more of traditional medicine outlets surveyed in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
•    China is the most commonly reported source for bear bile products

A short presentation can be viewed at:
http://prezi.com/y_mqfj2c8acx/the-bear-bile-trade-in-asia/

 
For further information:

Kaitlyn Elizabeth-Foley, Senior Programme Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: ++603 7880 3940, [email protected]
Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: ++603 7880 3940, [email protected]
Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC. Tel: +44 1223 279068, email: [email protected]

Remembering Ah Chong

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 Ah Chong our sweet male bear has left us on the morning of February 15th, 2011 due to Congestive Heart Failure caused by an abnormal heart that associated with genetic abnormality. Ah Chong was sent to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre from Telupid, interior Sabah on Sep 6, 2001, as an adult pet bear locked up in small cage for years. Ever since he was captured as pet, he never touches soil, climb a tree, nor have any contact to the forest, until he was moved to the BSBCC’s first bear house and forest enclosures in April 2010. At his new home, Ah Chong dug the soil, sniffed the forest air, and be like a wild bear. Sometime, he preferred to stay at his indoor den than staying outside in the forest enclosure, because physiologically he thought indoor was safer than in the outdoor as majority of his life was actually spent behind bars on concrete floor.

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We will remember Ah Chong although he is no longer with us anymore. Om the sun bear, Ah Chong’s long time playmate, seem more quite than before, probably grief over the loss of his long time friend. The story of Ah Chong tells the story of a typical caged sun bear. Habitat lost, human encroachment, poaching, female bears being killed, bear cub being captured for pet trade, follows by years and years of living behind bars and confines in small cages for many years until they died from old age, diseases, or mentally breakdown.

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An Chong is finally free from suffering as a sun bear who live in captivity all his life because of human’s cruelty, greed, and naivetivity. From of your supports and help, Ah Chong finally got a chance to live like a wild bear at the very end of his life at the BSBCC’s forest enclosure.

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May you rest in peace Ah Chong, we will always miss you and remember you!

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Sun Bear climbing tree at BSBCC

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Sun bear is an arboreal bear. In the wild, they spend a lot of their time on tree harvesting fruits, resting, and sleeping.

This is Suria, one of a female sun bear at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

 In her state-of-the-art forest enclosure, she can climb trees like a wild bear.

Please help Suria and other sun bears.

Please visit http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org to learn more about sun bears and BSBCC.

Ah Chong the sun bear enjoying his new home!

This is Ah Chong, one of the 19 sun bears current house in BSBCC. Ah Chong is a 12 year old smale sun bear. This is the first time he touches the soil and the forest again after 12 years live in captivity.
This is Ah Chong, one of the 19 sun bears currently house in BSBCC. Ah Chong is a 12 year old smale sun bear. This is the first time he touches the soil and the forest again after 12 years live in captivity.
 Ah Chong did nothing wrong. However, he has been living behind bars in metal cage and cement floor for the past 12 years. During his 12 years of captive life, he NEVER touches soil, smell the grass, sun bathing, and many other more things that a wild sun bear would do. Now, everything changed! Thanks to you and your support, he is doing many things that a wild bear would do: smell the grass, dig the soil, and enjoy the tropical sun! And..

Ah Chong did nothing wrong. However, he has been living behind bars in metal cage and cement floor for the past 12 years. During his 12 years of captive life, he NEVER touches soil, smell the grass, sun bathing, and many other more things that a wild sun bear would do. Now, everything changed! Thanks to you and your support, he is doing many things that a wild bear would do: smell the grass, dig the soil, and enjoy the tropical sun! And.. Pikapoo! Now you see me! Now you not!

Thanks to Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Wildlife Department, his state of the art forest enclosure is the only thing any sun bear would ask for: natural forest with tall trees, thick vegetation, fallen logs, etc., home for this little tropical bear.

Thanks to Sabah Forestry Department and Sabah Wildlife Department, his state of the art forest enclosure is the only thing any sun bear would ask for: natural forest with tall trees, thick vegetation, fallen logs, etc., home for this little tropical bear.

In his new home, Ah Chong can FINALLY smells the forest floor and dig the soil with his long curved claws. It may sound irony for a sun bear, but this is what actually happen to An Chong and others captive sun bears at BSBCC.

In his new home, Ah Chong can FINALLY smells the forest floor and dig the soil with his long curved claws. It may sound irony for a sun bear, but this is what actually happen to An Chong and others captive sun bears at BSBCC.

Ah Chong can also "roam" the forest! Although the "forest" is very small and fenced, he can at least walk like a wild bear! All of the stereotypic behavior he used to have living in cage, ALL GONE!!!

Ah Chong can also "roam" the forest! Although the "forest" is very small and fenced, he can at least walk like a wild bear! All of the stereotypic behavior he used to have living in cage, ALL GONE!!!

"I am a happy bear now, dude!" say Ah Chong, "I am home, finally home!"

"I am a happy bear now, dude!" say Ah Chong, "I am home, finally home!"

Even more inportant, Ah Chong can finally sleep and nap in a forest, just like what a wild sun bear would do in the forest!

Even more inportant, Ah Chong can finally sleep and nap in a forest, just like what a wild sun bear would do in the forest!

And relex well. Maybe the only bad thing in this new home is too many bugs! Especially too many bugs bug Ah Chong when he tried tp take a nap.

And relex well. Maybe the only bad thing in this new home is too many bugs! Especially too many bugs bug Ah Chong when he tried tp take a nap.

But I don't think Ah Chong would mind about the bugs. After all, he is now live like a wild bear, dig like a wild bear, walk like a wild bear, and sleep like a wild bear! We love you Ah Chong! Enjoy your new home!

But I don't think Ah Chong would mind about the bugs. After all, he is now live like a wild bear, dig like a wild bear, walk like a wild bear, and sleep like a wild bear! We love you Ah Chong! Enjoy your new home!

 

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The Next Step- Phase 2 of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Every great project in the world starts from a dream. For me, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was a dream that I dreamed some 6 years ago after seeing so many captive sun bears suffering in small cages and knowing  most people were completely naïve and clueless about their plights or anything about this bear. At first it seems like a mission impossible to raise such a huge amount of money for a species that are so little known and the global economic crisis. The key successes to kick start this project in the first place was because of the immense supports from Cynthia Ong and Nancy Abraham from LEAP, and Dr. Laurentius Ambu and Datuk Sam Manan, Directors of Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, respectively. Without their help and supports in the first place, this project will not go anywhere.

The next step of the project was to strategize ways to raise fund. Dividing the construction of the centre into 3 phases would speed up the project, at least, we could improve the livelihood of the captive bears without a long waiting to raise the entire fund needed: Phase 1 be the construction of the first Bear House 1 and the 4 forest enclosures; Phase 2 be the construction of visitor gallery, observation platform and renovating the past of existing building as office ; and finally, Phase 3 as the construction of the second Bear House 2 and additional 4 forest enclosures.

After 2 years of planning, fund raising, and constructing, Phase 1 is finally completed on March 2010. The 12 sun bears we had currently will be moved to the new bear house starting on April. This is an exited moment that everyone, including the sun bears, have been long waiting for. For me, this is a very important accomplishment and also the beginning of my new career. For the captive sun bears, the moment when they finally re-united with the forest where they truly belong, means the beginning of a new era for sun bear conservation. From now on, they can re-experience what was long missing in their life: touching the soil, feeling the trees, and getting wet by the tropical rain. In the same time, we could learn more about them, care more about them, and provide more helps to them.

The completion of Phase 1 also means the beginning of Phase 2. Phase 2 hold the key for the success of the entire project because only with the completion of the Phase 2 that we could open the facility for the public and visitors to learn more about sun bear and have more personal experience with them. At the same time, we could also generate revenue from ticketing and collect donation to make our project self sustain and viable.

Again, back to the dream. Now the dream of Phase 1 has completed, and the dream of getting Phase 2 done is just begun.

Thank you everyone for being with us all these time to give hands and supports when we needed most. This project is belongs to all of us who shared the same dream – the dream of providing the unfortunate captive sun bears a better home, the dream of learning more about this little known species, and the dream of helping  the sun bears from disappearing from SE Asia.

So, to all sun bear lovers and supporters, this is our plan for Phase 2 of the BSBCC:

the visitor centre and gallery

the visitor centre and gallery

Bird-eye view of the exsisting bear building to be renovated into office and visitor gallery

Bird-eye view of the exsisting bear building to be renovated into office and visitor gallery

Another view of the new plan of the office and visitor gallery

Another view of the new plan of the office and visitor gallery

The new observation platform to view sun bears in forested enclosures

The new observation platform to view sun bears in forested enclosures

the observation platform- a new experience with the sun bear

the observation platform- a new experience with the sun bear

We are getting closer and closer

As the construction of Phase 1 (Bear House 1 and 4 forest enclosures) getting closer and closer to completion, WE ARE GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER to the date where we anticipated so much and so long. The new bear house is almost done by now (see photos below).  After this weeklong Chinese New Year holiday, the construction of the fences will began, follow by the installation of electric (hot) wires to prevent bears from climbing up and escape. Then, on April 5th, is the date that we waited for so long- the moving of the bears to the new bear house and enclosure.  This date will be the first achievement of all the hard works and supports we received from so many people across the world.

We hope BSBCC can be a model for conservation project where government agencies, NGOs, biologists, local and international communities all working very hard together regardless of nationality, races, sexes, social status, incomes, professions, etc., to save an endangered species in this country. We are all here working together because we want to make a difference for the future of sun bear, other precious wildlife, wildlife habitat, humanity, and finally to the mother Earth!

Thank you all of you for your support and helps! 

Three Amigos

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Photos and text by Jocelyn Stokes 

Over here at the centre the bear crew can’t help but take a keen liking to a trio of young sun bears who may have actually been acrobats in a past life.  While one is hanging upside down from the ceiling with its head arched back and legs flailing in the air, another will be swinging though the air in a tire, whilst the other is usually balancing stealthily in the corner, arms straight up, or perhaps tearing open a coconut.  They’re a regular riot to observe with their overflowing abundance of character and youthful antics!  Deemed the ‘three amigos’ by a troupe of loyal volunteers from New Zealand,  these three bears,  Jolita, Lawa and Cerah, truly delight in each other’s company. “The reason they get along so well,” explains Wai Pak, the onsite Educational Officer, “is because they are so young.  At their age they need playmates.  They all happen to be the same age, as well, and they have grown up in captivity, so they are particularly fond of each other!”

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  It’s a truly enjoyable sight to behold when a group of young wild, animals with a rather unfortunate past can be helped to live in such contentment.  And, why not?  These bears are blessed with more love and attention than most creatures could dream of having.  Although their living space in not quite adequate yet, these bears are still receiving the utmost care.  Through the hard work and dedication of the small BSBCC staff, along with the fresh, motivated energy of the volunteer groups, these bears receive healthy nourishment, instinctual stimulation, and well-cared for environments.  All the bears have to worry about is how they’ll break open their next coconut and even that doesn’t seem to challenge them for too long.

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1 – Labors of Love – our friendly bear caretaker, David, is bringing sugar cane, fruit and other yummy treats for the bears.

 

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2 – Wai Pak is happily raking dry leaves to put into the bear cages, which helps to create a more natural surface for them to walk on.

 

 

A Sun Bear IS NOT a Panda—

panda1.jpgA Sun Bear IS NOT a Panda—

A call for wildlife education and awareness in Malaysia

by Wai Pak Ng

Recently a friend and supporter of BSBCC went to visit the Victory Mini Zoo Farm in Papart, Kudat  in the Northern Region of Borneo, and he was shocked by what he found.  Apparently the Zoo was advertising that they had a Panda Bear but instead it was 2 Malayan Sun Bears, which are Totally Protected under Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment.  The rationale for incorrectly identifying the bears is unclear—they may be using the name Panda to attract visitors or they could be mistaken about the type of Bear that they are housing.   Either way, this error is misleading and embarrassing and unfortunately indicates that the Zoo management know very little about the wildlife that they are responsible for, which is a scary indicator of the level of treatment that the animals are receiving. 

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This gaffe also highlights the general lack of education that people have about the Malayan Sun Bear, and with this type of misinformation, it is no wonder that most people do not know that Malaysia has a bear species.  This example proves that the local Malaysian community lacks coherent and correct information regarding wildlife in the region and would benefit substantially from increased environmental education and awareness.  Malaysia is urgently in need of a complete environmental education system that would help promote local appreciation of our natural resources, unique wildlife species and our fragile natural habitat.  

Perhaps the first step in addressing this issue would be for the government to implement and enforce strict guidelines on the Mini Zoos in the country, to ensure that they are utilizing best practices  in caring for the animals and that the conditions provided for wildlife are appropriate.   In conjunction with this, the government also has the opportunity to promote and fund Wildlife Centres that focus on awareness and education of local and international visitors in order to increase the impact that these Centres have.   It is the time for the people and government of Malaysia to address the treatment of animals in Zoos and captivity (both legal and illegal) and begin to support a more sustainable and long-term model of animal care and welfare. 

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