Category Archives: sun bear in the wild

Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Roaming, Exploring and Playing In The Forest

Text, photos and video by Chiew Lin May

Over the last few months, Damai, a Sun bear cub has impressed us all in the BSBCC by demonstrating both her independence and digging and climbing skills. She is now one year old, but she can enjoy herself for hours digging at decayed wood and climbing the trees at the Kabili- Sepilok Forest Reserve.

Besides being busy with her digging, she also enjoys climbing and napping in the trees. In the forest, Damai is very curious and likes to check out anything “new”, especially the plants. Damai likes to explore by pushing and bending the branches, breaking the twigs, and playing with leaves. She will enjoy playing for hours as she tears the wood apart looking for termites and various insects to eat. Then, suddenly she will roll the log and explore around it. What a delightful mess indeed!

Damai is a fantastic climber, and she spends most of her day playing in the trees or around the decayed wood. It has only been a few months, and she has developed a very strong personality of her own, and has made amazing progress for her age!

Damai has a great expression and a whole lot of personality. We will keep telling you about the progress of the brave Damai who is growing healthy and strong in the BSBCC. She has lost her mother and her home, but she is in safe hands now. We will give her the best chance to grow up and one day return to a protected area in the wild.

Protecting and caring for the habitat of the Sun bear is extremely vital to ensuring they do not become extinct. Hope this never happens. Please help us spread the love for Sun bears!!

Here is a short video clip of Damai playing and roaming around the forest.

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One Year Old Damai the Sunbear!

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.


Keep up to date on all the news from BSBCC by visiting our website and facebook.

Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Explore in Forest Part VII

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

The beautiful, majestic and the forgotten species  Sun bears, we share this earth with these beautiful and adorable creatures !! Here are the photos for you to share to spread the word!!

Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Forest Insects

Text and Photo by Chiew Lin May

Damai is feast the leeches who stick inside her paw.

Do you ever wonder why Damai, 10 months-old female sun bear cub likes to eat beetle larvae, beetles, millipedes and other forest insects? This is because insects contain protein. When you see sun bears flipping decayed wood, climbing tree or digging into logs, this is generally the reason for them doing so.

Beetles, millipedes and other forest insects also considered to be sun bears’ favorite food source beside termites. Damai eats insects by thrusting her paws into a log and grab a handful to eat.  Her powerful claws are used to break into log and get access to the insects. She also detects the insects by her keen sense of smell. Damai flips over the decayed wood and get the insects with a few flicks of her long tongue. Damai gets lucky with these insects. They do sound crunchy when she feasted on them!!

Damai found a milipede. She is going to feast this delicious millipede !!

She was curious and play with the millipede.

Time to feast beetle !!

Damai have great sense of smell, which helps her in finding the food.

Foraging across the forest floor, Damai will eat practically anything edible she can find.

Damai will try her best to find out any insects hiding inside the log.

Damai has big claws that helps it climb tree, and a long tongue which it uses to extract insects from inside trees.

Damai keep digging until appear a hole to search insects.

Damai skim the forest floor in search of beetle, beetle larva, millipede and other insects !! Please help us spread the words. You can help preserve and protect wildlife and their habitat.

Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Explore in Forest Part VI

Text and Photos by Chiew Lin May

Sun bear is an arboreal bear. In the wild, let look what Damai doing and spending at  rainforest.

— Digging —

Damai is opportunistic omnivores that feed on termites, ants, beetles and other forest insect.

Damai is digging, foraging and exploring the decayed log.

Damai’s sharp claws and long tongues make her adapt at reaching into termite mounds to locate food.

Damai use her strong strength for turning over logs to get colonial insects.

Decayed wood was one of the type of feeding site for sun bear.


— Playing —

She play with the milipede !!

She likes to breaking the twig and play with the leaves.

Stick holding during play !!

— Climbing —

Damai is a very good in tree climbing.

Damai attempt to climb a variety of trees in search of food, rest or for play.

With naked paws and long curved claws, Damai is well adapted for climbing trees.

Damai learn to find food amd avoid danger from animals or human by climbing trees.

— Grooming —

Damai busy grooming her paw to take off the leeches !! Sometimes the leech will become her meal.

She also will use her long tongue to take out the leeches.

— Resting and Sleeping—

Taking nap time !!

— Alert with stranger sound —

Using her stong sense of smells and hears, Damai will alert surrounding sound of the area.

Every  sun bears  has their own unique patterns of chest mark. No two chest marks is the same like our finger print.

This is Damai’s chest mark

With their forests getting chopped down and their babies sold as pets, we are rapidly losing our endangered sun bears. Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) aims to conserve sun bear through education, research, rehabilitation, and improve welfare for captive orphan sun bears. We need your help to achieve these goals !! And if you care about sun bears, you won’t want to be left out of the fight for their survival. They are depending on you !!

Here we wishing all the teachers  Happy Teachers day !!
And wishing our BSBCC’s CEO & Founder Wong Siew Te  Happy Birthday !!








Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – How do Damai react when encounter with “stranger” ?

Text, Photo and Video by Chiew Lin May

A mother sun bear will defend and takes good care to protect her cubs from every disaster. Sun bear cubs depends and stay with their mum for about two years. Damai, the recently born 9 months old sun bear cub was rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department and sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), which became an orphan sun bear cub without her mother’s care. Hence, our BSBCC staffs provide her amount of care. Damai is doing well and had learnt how to survive in these wildlife surroundings. It is difficult to justify how a sun bear will react to sustain survival of its life when encounterring predators. Predators of the sun bears include clouded leopards, reticulated pythons, other bears and humans.

During a walk with Damai in the Kabili – Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sabah, she encounter many “strangers”. Example, macaques, infant orang utan, dog, and various sound from the forest (branches fall sound, birds sound, Bornean Gibbon long call sound, macaques jumping between tree or call sound, another sun bear’s barking sound from BSBCC’s bear house etc.)

What will Damai do and react when encounter with the strangers?

Damai will be alert to know where is the sound come from. Then, Damai will stand on hind legs to treaten “strangers” by looking bigger than the “strangers”. Aside from that, Damai will create barking and huffing sound which will frighten the “strangers”. She also will show her sharp claws to their “strangers” to scare them away. Moreover, Damai will climb on trees to escape and continue barking, using barking as weapons. This definitely is a sign of aggressiveness and display a strong warning to the “strangers”!! If the animals do not harm and disturb Damai, she will just let them be there and occupy herself with her digging or foraging.

However, her real mother would have jumped in front of her to protect her from any sorts of danger or harm. This also serves as an important reminder that although sun bear cubs are adorable and cute but they need to face many challenges to survive. Please DO NOT kills their mother and keeps sun bear cubs as your PETS!!

Find out more by watching this short video and please help us spread the words and share this video.

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Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Resting on Tree and Forest Floor

Text & Photos by Chiew Lin May

An 9 months old female sun bear cub, Damai is an arboreal bear. At the Kabili – Sepilok Forest Reserve,  Damai spend a lot of her time in roaming, foraging, digging and climbing trees. However, Damai will take a rest on the tree and forest floor too. Most of the animals have their daily pattern of resting and activities. Like other animals, Damai also give her brain and body a rest too. Damai will sleep on relax mode.  Sometimes if the weather is too hot, Damai prefer to take a rest on the tree rather than foraging for food.

An accomplished a good climber and a tree- dwelling, Damai has been spending most of her day on tall trees over 7 meters height above the jungle floor. Due to sun bears live in tropical temperatures, they do not hibernate like other bears do, as the warm and humid temperatures allow sun bears to find food all year long.

Sun bear cub will stay close with their mother for a long time. For a sun bear cub like Damai, she will sleep with her mother in the tree cave. It was so beautiful and awesome to watch Damai sleep. When you see her, please remember there are many orphans sun bears that have lost their mothers to poachers. Help save the sun bears!!

Here are couples of photos showed how Damai rest and sleep on the tree and forest floor with difference postures.

Damai loves to lay upon the tree tops when the weather is too hot.

Damai is an arboreal sun bear. She can climb and spend lot of time in the forest canopy.

Take a rest after spend the day in digging decayed wood and termite mound.

Sun bears do not hibernate because they live in such a warm climate.

After finish digging the dead stump, she find a comfortable place to take a nap.

It was so beautiful looking Damai sleep peacefully.

Expression after wake up from nap!! Adorable!

So tired until sitting down rest on forest floor.

Amazing!! She choose a fallen tree to take a nap.


Damai, Sun Bear Cub Diary – Explore in Forest Part 1

Text and photos by Chiew Lin May

Damai is one of the female sun bear cub rescued by Sabah Wildlife Department that sent to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). She is now 9 months old. Every time walk her in forest, she is very curious and loves to sniff the around environment, which is what sun bears love to do !! She is doing really well and glad for her! Here are some pictures just tell a story better than words ever can. Please help us spread the words and spread the loves.

Special Moments with Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini in the BSBCC Forest Enclosure Part 1

Text and photos by Chiew Lin May

On March 13th 2013, Ah Lun and Julaini stepped foot into the forest for the first time. These 4 sub-adult sun bears are now spending their days roaming, foraging, and digging in the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) forest enclosure.

Ah Lun and Julaini watch how and wondering why Natalie go out from door.

Ah Lun, female sub-adult sun bear step foot on forest floor. She follow Rungus roaming around the forest enclosure.

Julaini is the last one who confident to step the foot on forest floor.

Now Natalie and Rungus are confidently roaming the forest. Once the door is open both of them will go out immediately. They are enjoying their freedom. They have large trees to climb, decayed wood/logs, soil to dig in, and a natural forest to explore. Through the forest enclosure they look for a comfortable place to take a rest. They are doing well and spending the rest of their days getting used to the sights and sounds of their new environment where they are learning what it takes to live like wild sun bears.

Natalie is an excellent climber, and spends much of her time in trees foraging for her meals, insects, by using her long, sharp claws. Natalie is a great leader. She is very independent and has taught herself how to climb high up in the trees. Additionally, she loves to be outside. Rungus likes to makes a mess by scraping off all the soil or decayed wood she can searching for termites, beetles and other invertebrates. Ah Lun and Julaini surprisingly have shown some confident roaming in the forest enclosure already. Ah Lun prefers to spend her time alone, playing happily in the forest enclosure. It took Julaini a while to come out of his door and take a few steps. He was extremely wary of his new surroundings. He sniffed and foraged around the entire place.

It has been very heart-warming to see them grow in confidence and strength, as they become used to using all four limbs and climbing high up in the trees. All these things encourage natural, wild behaviour. They are all making great progress.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is in a wonderful location for true rehabilitation as the forest has huge trees sun bears love. Seeing this forest dwelling species digging and climbing happily in the forest all day long is extremely motivating.

Here are a couple of photos of Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini roaming, digging and climbing trees at BSBCC forest enclosure.

Natalie, Rungus, Ah Lun and Julaini is happily roaming at forest enclosure.

Natalie, the group leader become an excellent climber.

Natalie loves to spend a lot of their time on trees.

Agile climber, Natalie use her powerful and long claws to climb trees search for food or rest on trees.

Rungus is like to spend time on digging soil and decayed wood foraging for food.

Rungus was keeping an eye out whilst foraging.

Using her long and sharp claws, Ah Lun was busy foraging food from the tree hole.


Ah Lun use canines to chew the dead log.

Julaini likes spend much of the day sunbathing or resting. Sometimes, Ah Lun and Natalie will company and play together with him.


It was hot afternoon, Natalie took rest on the forest floor.

Natalie use long tongues to slurp up the termites or insects.

Rungus and Natalie was grooming each other!!

In the forest, Rungus and Natalie was play together. It is amazing !! They love to explore forest very much.

Keep up to date on Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre news by visiting our website

Damai, Sun Bear Cub Dairy – Climbing trees

Text by Chiew Lin May
Photo by Gloria Ganang and Chiew Lin May

Climbing is a skill most often associated with primates, but sun bears are also arboreal. They often climb trees in order to forage for food, protect themselves from predators or to rest and sleep on the branches. Wong Siew Te, our BSBCC’s CEO and Founder refers to sun bears as “forest engineers” because sun bears can climb trees and dig into beehives at the top of the canopy to get honey. The empty and abandoned beehive then becomes an important new habitat site for other animals such as hornbills.

A 8 months old sun bear cub, Damai has explore the forest and is very curious of the many new and exciting things that surround her. She is a very good at climbing trees. Every time we walk her in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve Sabah, she practices how to climb trees or liana (long-stemmed, woody vines). When in the tree she spends her time digging in search of insects and playing or resting in the tree anopy, just like a wild sun bear would ! Once she started climbing the trees, she will keep climb higher up of the tree and did not bother us. Now Damai can climb more than 5 meters high !!

Sun bear cub, Damai learns her tree climbing skills in the forest.

You may wonder what is it that makes Damai such a good climber? Many of the sun bears features are adapted for a tree – dwelling lifestyle. She has extremely long, sharp and curved claws that are perfectly adapted for climbing trees. Inside the sun bears claw have a piece of bone that gives strength to the sun bear when climbing. Her claws help her to get a grip on the tree bark and she uses her powerful claws, limbs and padded feet to go up tree. She can also climb down from tall trees supported by her claws. As she climbs up and down the trees, her muscles continue to grow stronger!! Thus, the presence of a sun bear can be detected by their characteristic claw marks on the bark of trees. The sun bears small body size and their ability to rotate their front limbs just like a primate also assists them to climb. Amazing, indeed!

Look at her long sickle-shaped claws that help in climbing !!

Hugging the tree with her front limbs also assists in tree climbing.

Damai is very playful and adorable.

Damai climbs the vine and hangs upside down to lick ants.

Damai found a comfortable liana to relax on.


Awesome!! Damai climbs so high and then tries to break twigs.

This is Damai’s claw mark found on one of the wood-feeding termite tree.