Tag Archives: Raleigh International

New playground at BSBCC future enclosure!

Text by Gloria Ganang and photo by Tee Thye Lim

The BSBCC is on its way to construct its second bear house that will be able to occupy 16 bears. This new bear house will be surrounded by a 1.21 ha forest enclosure. However, some parts of the forest enclosure are swampy and have no trees for the bears to climb. How do we make use of the space? With the help of ideas from Arkitrek and hard work by the Raleigh International volunteers, our future enclosure is now equipped with a playground for the bears.

Check out these pictures!

Hanging bridge made out of reclaimed wood materials and fire hose

Making use of old tyres to walk on muddy ground

Now everyone can climb!

Perfect spot for sunbathing!

The Raleigh volunteer group who finalized the structures. You guys are awesome!


The Raleigh International volunteers came from all over the world and gathered at this tropical island of Borneo to work on projects as this one. They worked with heavy tools and materials, tolerated with unpredictable weather, had countless leach bites under their socks and went back to their camp site muddy and tired everyday. However, they have done it for a good cause, which is to provided the bears with additional activities  in the enclosure. These structures can be utilized in many ways to enrich the bears. We are sure that any bear would instantly check out the structures as soon as they find it. Perhaps the roaming orang utan and macaques will do as well..or any of the BSBCC staff!

Million thanks from the BSBCC team to the volunteers! We hope you enjoyed working with us!

We would also like to thank Ian Hall, founder of Arkitrek who made this project possible. Not forgetting Arkitrek intern, Adam Brown for your dedication to guide the volunteers all the way until the end of this project.

Bear hugs to everybody!

And now kids are learning about sun bear and BSBCC too!

Text by Siew Te Wong

 This is another good story of “do what you do best to help sun bear and BSBCC”.

Joyce Malmo was a volunteer project manager with the Raleigh International working with BSBCC back in August 2010. She felt very privileged to be working at BSBCC and experiencing the sun bears. Joyce decided to do more subsequently to her volunteering work with us. She decided to write a children book about sun bear and other wildlife and their habitat across the world.


The book, ANIMALS – Stories From Across the World is an environmental education storybook for children between 6 – 10 years. It’s a storybook meant for children, teachers, parents, guardians and children. The book contains 7 animal stories from various animals across the world including activities and educational material that can be used at home or in the classroom. This book is currently available for sale as an “eBook” as starter to generate enough fund to publish in paper format. Joyce is very kind to donate 10% of the sale to BSBCC for our education activities. You can purchase the book online at http://www.story4environment.org/.


The following is what Joyce wrote about the chapter on Susie the sun bear in her book:


Sun bears are the smallest species of bears in the world and are found in the tropical rainforests throughout Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the number of sun bears are declining. This is mainly as a result of deforestation and poaching.

The story about Susie came about after volunteering at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) through Raleigh (UK youth development charity) last year.


Susie is a real sun bear. She was the first sun bear that I saw at the BSBCC – actually, the first sun bear that I ever saw. Even though parts of the story about Susie is fiction, it is true that she grew up in the rainforest near Tawau and was kept as a pet, before she was rescued by the BSBCC in Sepilok, Sabah in Malaysia.

The story about Susie the little sun bear cub and how she lost her mum and ended up at the Sun Bear Center is the saddest story in the animal storybook. I wanted it to be as close as possible to what unfortunately does happen in reality to many sun bears. Yet the story gives hope by introducing one to the Borneon Sun Bear Conservation Center – founded in 2008 by Mr. Siew Te Wong – it is safe to say that he is the leading expert on sun bears.


The Center was set up with the support and help of Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) and a charity called Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

So, this is where Susie lives, together with more than 20 other rescued bears. Most of them were brought to the Center as orphans or as victims of the pet trade.

Spending about 6 weeks at the Center in Borneo working as a volunteer through Raleigh in 2010, I could see a true dedication by the staff, not only for the conservation of the sun bears, but the environment in general.


However, the BSBCC is still under construction. It aims to conserve sun bears through a combination of education, rehabilitation, research, and improvement of the welfare of captive orphaned sun bears.

Currently, the Center is not open to the public. At the moment, they will start working on the construction of a viewing platform for visitors, so the idea is to open it in order to educate the public.

Apart from being incredible fascinating animals (which we know very little about), the sad story of the sun bears is one that opens up the door to many different environmental issues, which can can be introduced into the classroom by simply telling the story about Susie the sun bear from Tawau.

For more information about the BSBCC, their work and the sun bears, have a look at their website/blog: http://sunbears.wildlifedirect.org


Thank you Joyce! Your work is important to us and the sun bears.

Please help us spread the words about this book and support Joyce and BSBCC!

Raleigh Volunteering Experience at BSBCC

Our Volunteering Experience at BSBCC – “we can’t wait for the day to come when the first bear gets released into the wild!”

Text and photos by Joyce Malmo

Twelve curious, excited and eager faces were staring at myself (Joyce) and Katy – volunteer Project Managers for Raleigh, on the 8th of July when we finally arrived at Mile 14 in Sepilok. For most of us, it had taken 14.5 hours by airplane and 6 hours by bus to get here.

Where are the sun bears? When will we start working at the BSBCC?  The 12 Raleigh volunteer venturers had received a brief on the BSBCC and the volunteer work to be carried out, but the majority had never heard nor seen this special bear species before joining Raleigh.

However, knowing very little about the sun bears did not stop the young Raleigh venturers embracing and committing themselves to the construction work at the BSBCC for the next 2.5 weeks. And the goal: to build the foundations of a boardwalk around the sun bear enclosure to provide easier access for the keepers at BSBCC.

From the left (back row): Dean Izzudin, Stephen Nunes, Alexandra Gell, Charlotte Grimstone, Katy McDonald, Sarah Luton, Arina Latif. In the front from the left: Finlay Macleod, Stephen Longfellow, Elizabeth Bird, Phillip Ly, Joyce Malmo and Danielle Lightfood.

From the left (back row): Dean Izzudin, Stephen Nunes, Alexandra Gell, Charlotte Grimstone, Katy McDonald, Sarah Luton, Arina Latif. In the front from the left: Finlay Macleod, Stephen Longfellow, Elizabeth Bird, Phillip Ly, Joyce Malmo and Danielle Lightfood.

Before the 12 enthusiastic venturers and impatient Katy and I could deploy on the work site, a few things had to be organized first. On the top of our list was to settle into our new home: JUNGLE CAMP, located in the beautiful Bornean rain forest approx. 3 km from the BSBCC. It welcomes you with an open longhouse with 15 comfortable bashers, a small community area, and three outdoor showers and a long drop. Most importantly, it is surrounded by wildlife and you wake up to the sounds of the jungle. People still find it strange that we would live in the jungle whilst there are plenty of resorts in Sepilok, however there is no place like jungle camp.

We were welcomed by Wai Pak at the BSBCC on the 9th of July for a presentation. He gave us an introduction about the sun bears, which none of us will easily forget. With a greater understanding about the threats these special bears are facing and being shocked by the captivity and treatment some of these sun bears have experienced in their lives, we couldn’t wait to go on a tour to the sun bear house. For most of us, it would be the first time we had ever seen a sun bear. It was amazing to step into the newly opened sun bear house. Some of the bears were playing around while others were having an early afternoon nap. We were very impressed with the new sun bear house. It has high ceilings, is very spacious and plenty of day light can enter into the house.

Do they really bark? Are they social animals or do they live alone? How often do they reproduce and how many cubs can a female carry? The questions were vast and the day ended with a group of very motivated venturers and 2 Project Managers eager to start work on the 10th of July.

The first week at BSBCC consisted of clearing and sorting out wood around the enclosure. Our lunch breaks on the jetty next to the Orang-utan nursery became one of the main highlights of the day. On days when the amazing “man of the forest” appeared just across the jetty to climb into the trees, big gazing eyes and a sudden silence would appear among us. We sometimes felt that we were in a “BBC open air documentary”. All that was missing was the voice of David Attenborough. 

We could also hear the barking sound from the sun bears from time to time. Though, the bears have the opportunity to go outside every day, there was only a few days while we were there that a sun bear took a step outside of their newly opened sun bear house. Embracing the opportunity to be in the wild, where they belong, seemed like taking a big step into the unknown for them. This again shows how important the BSBCC is and we can’t wait for the day to come when the first sun bear is to be released into the wild.

The second week at BSBCC consisted of sweat and tears. We had started drilling and bolting together the foundation for the boardwalk. Unfortunately, the drill pieces we had were a bit worn out and it took us hours to drill just a couple of holes through the tough iron wood. If we continued like this, it would take us several weeks to complete the boardwalk. Time we didn’t have. Luckily, Bob Hartley and Wai Pak came to our rescue and helped us getting some new sharp pieces from the local hardware store. We were back on track again!

It made a world of difference to Sarah Luton and Stephen Nunes with the new drill pieces in place!

It made a world of difference to Sarah Luton and Stephen Nunes with the new drill pieces in place!

Our last week at BSBCC flew by so smoothly. We had managed to lay most of the foundations for the boardwalk, but we were all curious to see what the completed boardwalk would look like once the next Raleigh group had finished it. So, we decided to make a prototype boardwalk and on Wednesday the 21st of July, we had our prototype boardwalk ceremony!

What an amazing feeling to hammer in the last nail into the prototype boardwalk.

What an amazing feeling to hammer in the last nail into the prototype boardwalk.

It was sad to leave BSBCC on the 27th of July, but what an amazing time we have had at BSBCC. We have learned so much about the sun bears and again we can’t wait for the day to arrive when the first BSBCC sun bear will be released into the wild. We would like to thank Wai Pak and Bob Hartley for your support during our first phase.

Raleigh comes to the BSBCC!

By: Vicki, Brony, Charlie, Emma, jack, Ali.

Raleigh, formally known as Raleigh international, is a youth and education charity which gives people a chance to explore the world and by doing so discover their potential as leaders and members of a team working together to make a difference. Raleigh first began working in Malaysia in 1987 and since 2003 has been in Sabah, North Borneo.

This year has seen various projects developing across Sabah, with the help of Raleigh volunteers, including community-based projects, such as the installation of gravity water feed systems and the building of kindergartens. Raleigh also however, aims at enabling young people to get involved with environmental projects and as of this year this has included the development of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which Raleigh believes is the most exciting new conservation initiative in Borneo. This is a truly unique project and us volunteers on Raleigh’s third and final phase are excited about getting stuck into the work here.

The group consists of 11 venturers – Charlie, Emma, Ali, Bryony, Leo, James, Lottie, Vicki, Thijs, Andrew, Jack and 4 project managers – Jessie, Craig, Nicky and Phil. So far we have been cracking on with the “bear-proofing” of existing perimeter fences by installing metal rods into the ground. This process involves hammering 4ft iron rods securely into the ground so that the bears will not be able to dig under the fence as is naturally expected of them. We have also been dividing the enclosure into three separate areas to accommodate for the different behaviours and requirements of each bear. For example, bears of a similar age need to be kept together, more aggressive bears may need to be separated and the gender of the bears also has to be considered. Ultimately, Sun Bears potentially suited for re-release into the wild should be separated from those who would be incapable of surviving in the wild.          

So far the project has been hard work, but exciting, as every day brings with it new experiences of all sorts. We’ve had encounters with the resident orang-utans of which there are two. One in particular has proved to be a great fan of relieving venturers of their water bottles and biscuits at break time. We’ve also had dealings with mischievous macaques, terrifying tarantulas and massive monitor lizards!!

   There was excitement here at the BSBCC when Suria, a sun bear suffering with an injured paw, was deemed healthy enough to be moved to more comfortable surroundings after 3 months of recovery. The occasion was marked with a mutual sense of hope that the rehabilitation process of such bears will one day prove as successful as their neighbours at the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sepilok.



Cutting the metal rods requires both strength and skill.



Jessie, project manager is having discussion with Billy, the architect assistant on the working site.