Text by Chiew Lin May
Photos by Gloria Ganang & Chiew Lin May
Damai, a female sun bear cub, turned one year old this month. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre’s (BSBCC) youngest sun bear, Damai, was rescued in a residential area in Damai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was sent to the BSBCC on November 5, 2012. We named her “Damai” after the place where she was found, meaning “peace” in Malay. Damai lost her mother during her first year of life, and didn’t have the chance to live together with her mother in the wild. Sun bear cubs follow their mothers everywhere they go, and like most sun bear cubs, Damai would have completely depended on her mother for food, protection, and lots of tender loving care.
When Damai first arrived at BSBCC, she was just a tiny sun bear cub weighing only 5 kg. Today, she is in good physical condition and weighs almost 20.1 kg! Her body is now covered with smooth, thick, short black fur with an orange-yellow “U” mark and dark spots on her chest. Little Damai grew very rapidly, and is now a mature well-behaved sun bear cub.
The rehabilitation for Damai has been ongoing in the forest until now. Damai learned very fast and has adapted to the forest where she will exploring, roaming, foraging for food (termites, beetles, and other invertebrates), climbing trees, resting, and sleeping. It is necessary for her to develop all of these skills in order to grow into a strong sun bear. When Damai was 10 months old, she lost both canines in her lower jaw. Now almost all of her baby teeth have been replaced by sharp adult teeth. Besides her teeth, her curved claws have also grown in long and sharp, allowing her to dig for honey and insects. Damai’s sense of smell is strong, and she can detect insects and termites more than a mile away! Her hearing is better than humans, and she is always keeping alert to her surroundings. Because Damai is still so small, she often stands on her hind legs to get a better smell or view ahead of her.
Damai was so curious about all of the new smells and sounds in the forest the first time she went exploring. She remained cautious and stayed close to her caretakers while embarking on unfamiliar territory. Now, Damai is an independent wild sun bear cub, and is continuing to show good progress while developing a much more wild nature. She is starting to explore herself and is very curious of the things that surround her, including plants, leeches, and macaques. Little Damai is starting to learn how to survive in the forest, and spends most of her time exploring her new home. While exploring she has managed to become an excellent climber, and spends much of her time tearing tree bark in search of insects, and making messes by breaking all the dead decayed wood.
In the wild, sun bears are threatened by hunting, pet trade, and the destruction of their rainforest habitat. Primarily, sun bears are hunted and kept in farms for their bile which is used as a traditional medicine. One of the last remaining creatures on Earth, this threatened animal deserves to be protected. Together, we can Bring Back the Wild.
Here are the photos show Damai in different age and grow. Please help us spread the words for sun bears!!
- 4 months old-
A Sabah Civil Defence holding Damai, sun bear cub after they captured it at a house in Kota Kinabalu.
Damai, is a female sun bear cub! She was then sent to BSBCC on last year 5th November.
- 5 months old-
This is the first time Damai start to explore in forest.
Damai is venture in the forest, digging the decayed log, and acclimate to life in the forest.
- 6 months old-
In the forest, Damai was developed her natural behaviors.
- 7 months old-
- 8 months old-
Damai usually spend most of her day resting,sleeping and sunbathing on trees.
- 9 months old-
Damai is well-suited to the environment. Her short hair allows her to survive in a hotter environment.
Damai was climb the trees to seek shelther or to escape danger from predator.
- 10 months old-
Damai was sunbathe under the trees.
- 11 months old-
Damai have a strong curved claws make the strength for turning over logs to get colonial insects.
Damai have a special long tongue and with an orange-yellow “U” mark and dark spots on her chest.
- One years old-
Damai’s canine teeth for ripping open logs, capturing young prey, and tearing apart tree bark.
Damai’s footprint at muddy area.
Damai’s claw mark on the tree.
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