Tag Archives: Siew Te Wong

Grand opening of BSBCC and Sepilok Orangutan rehabilation Centre’s 50th Anniversary on the 9th October, 2014

Text by Nick Tan
Pictures by Tee Thye Lim and Chew Lin May

The car park was empty, umbrellaDSC_6648 canopies with beautiful decoration and chairs underneath were seen, loud music was playing and plenty of wildlife exhibition when I came to work today. At as early as 8am, the usual silent morning was suddenly hit by waves of locals and foreigners visitors flooding in. The reason? The 50th Anniversary of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) and the grand opening of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre (BSBCC).

 

Main entrance of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Main entrance of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (en.wikipedia.org)

BSBCC Grand Opening (23)

On 9th October, BSBCC and SOURC were opened for public for free!

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo was founded 50 years ago when Barbara Harrison initiated the very first rehabilitation centre in the world for rescued orangutans. The site is 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Today around 60 to 80 orangutans are living free in the reserve. The new objectives of the centre has expanded to public education on conservation, research assistance and provide care for any other wildlife species. This centre is renowned for their work in rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans all aross the sate and has increased global awareness on the importance of protection of orangutans.

Carrying the same spirit and vision as Madam Barbara Harrison and SOURC, BSBCC was established at 2008 to help the Malayan sun bears. 2014 represented a milestone for BSBCC for it is when we are opened to public.  In fact, the centre had a successful soft opening on January 16th 2014 and since then, we had a staggering number of visitors – around 34,895 (16,978 local and 17,917 foreigners). Over the past six years, we have worked to improve welfare of captive sun bears in Sabah. Today, with the grand opening of BSBCC, we look forward to educating and reaching out to many more people across the world to raise awareness about sun beras and their rainforest habitat. Research and rehabilitation which are critical in the conservation of sun bears are areas of focus now that the centre is open. BSBCC is also helping to boost the economy through tourism. According toTripadvisor.com, BSBCC is currently ranked number four among 20 attractions in Sandakan. Visitors to BSBCC are doing their bit to enhance wildlife conservation and forest protection.

The grand opening of BSBCC and 50th Anniversary of SOURC was attended by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment – Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun and Director of Sabah Wildlife Department – Datuk Dr. Laurentius Ambu. The event went on for 2 days with the opening ceremony with the VIPs and various educational activities and exhibition held for the public.

Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun giving a speech on the importance of enforcement needed to curb poaching of wildlife.

Y.B Datuk Sri Panglima Masidi HJ. Manjun giving a speech on the importance of enforcement needed to curb poaching of wildlife.

 

 

 

 

BSBCC Grand Opening (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BSBCC Grand Opening (38)

Escort personally by our founder and CEO, Mr. Wong Siew Te to our centre.

BSBCC Grand Opening (80)

BSBCC staffs welcoming the VIPs.

 

BSBCC is now officially open!

BSBCC is now officially open!

Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun looking over from the platform to observe the sun bears.

Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun looking over from the platform to observe the sun bears.

“I hope that this new centre will be another model for a successful facility that can be proud of.” said Datuk Sri Masidi Manjun.

A big thank you from us.

A big thank you from us.

Opening of Orangutan outdoor nursery

Opening of Orangutan outdoor nursery

The completely soundproof observation deck at the outdoor nursery was made to reduce the disturbance from humans to the orangutans.

The completely soundproof observation deck at the outdoor nursery was made to reduce the disturbance from humans to the orangutans.

An interview conducted by reporters in the outdoor nursery.

An interview conducted by reporters in the outdoor nursery.

 ” When the centre was first set up, we had only a few staff working around the clock to care for the rescued orangutans. Now, not only do we have the assistance from several NGOs for the rehabilitation work, the centre is also a home for the sun bears rehabilitation program” Said Datuk Dr. Laurentius Ambu

 

Bobohizan (priest/priestess in khadazandusun) ceremony.

Bobohizan (priest/priestess in khadazandusun) ceremony.

Bobohizans have the ability to communicate with spirits and make peace with them.

Bobohizans have the ability to communicate with spirits and make peace with them.

Our exhibition booth

Our exhibition booth

 

 

 

Thank you everyone who supported us and came to our grand opening!

 

Sun Bear Centre To Raise Funds, Calls For Public Support

http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v7/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=959333

 

Sun Bear Centre To Raise Funds, Calls For Public Support

SANDAKAN, June 27 (Bernama) — The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) will hold a fundraising dinner to raise RM500,000 to partially fund the construction of a second bear house before it is opened to the public early next year.Chief executive officer and founder Wong Siew Te said part of the money raised will also be used to construct a one hectare enclosure for the new bear house and to meet operational costs for the year.

The fundraising dinner to be held on July 20 at the Hakka Association Hall here comes almost five years after a similar event in Kota Kinabalu raised RM1.3 million that was partly used for the construction of the first bear house.

Wong said this year’s operational and construction costs run into RM2 million and despite the commitment of generous donors, it needs to meet shortfall in expenses.

“We appeal to Malaysians, especially the Sandakan business community to support this fundraiser. By attending the event, you will be able to better understand the significance of sun bears and the types of threats this species faces.”

The BSBCC which started operation in 2008 with seven rescued sun bears currently provides refuge to 28 sun bears.

“It is the first and the only facility of its kind in the world and the only one that conduct rescue, education, research and rehabilitation. We should be proud that it is located in Malaysia, specifically in Sandakan,” Wong said in a statement to announce the fund raising dinner, here today.

The BSBCC is located next to the world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and also close to the increasingly popular Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Habitat loss, poaching for parts used in traditional medicine and the pet trade are among key threats that have led to a 30 per cent decline of the sun bear population in the last three decades.

Sun bears, the smallest of the world’s eight bear species, are found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.

The exact number of sun bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing to protect the species classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.

Sun bears are also classified as a ‘Totally Protected Species’ under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, providing it the same status as the Orang Utan and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Prior to the establishement of BSBCC, sun bears were kept illegally as pets while confiscated bears were housed at a government facility.

The BSBCC provides care and the chance for sun bears to learn what it is like to live in the forest by accessing an attached natural forest within an enclosed area.

Wong said an observation platform and boardwalk were completed last year and that it was poised to become an important education and awareness facility, and could also serve as an ecotourism destination.

“However, we need a second bear house and enclosure to accommodate all the sun bears before we can officially open it. We also need to complete the visitor centre and educational exhibits.”

Sime Darby Foundation, the Sabah government, Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, and several foreign organisations and zoos in the United States are among agencies that had contributed towards the development of BSBCC.

The fund raising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will include photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan.

Performers lined up include Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chaw @ Cao Ge, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends with Lina Teoh and Vincent Huang as masters of ceremony.

A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The event is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry with Sabah Hotel as the main sponsor.

The BSBCC was set up through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

— BERNAMA

Sun Bears Target Of Demand In Traditional Medicine

http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v7/newsindex.php?id=957735

By Haslin Gaffor

SANDAKAN, June 21 (Bernama) — Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat, threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.

“Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree. However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree. They then recover quickly and go about their day.

“This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly. This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said.

He said in some parts of the world, Asiatic Black Bears are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid.

While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally. Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores.

“With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild,” he said in a statement here today, to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears.

While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a ‘Totally Protected’ species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List is not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.

Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both.

Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and he cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak.

Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade.

“Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet. To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed. Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets.

“This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said.

Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC is planning to hold a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will see Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears, apart from an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan and performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends.

A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations.

— BERNAMA

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/features/article/sun-bears-target-of-demand-in-traditional-medicine/

June 21, 2013

 

Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear (pic) continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat, threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.

Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree.

However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree.

They then recover quickly and go about their day.

This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly.

“This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said.

He said in some parts of the world, Asiatic Black Bears are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid.

While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally.

Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores.

“With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild,” he said in a statement here today, to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears.

While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a ‘Totally Protected’ species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List is not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.

Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both.

Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and he cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak.

Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade.

Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet.

To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed.

Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets.

“This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said.

Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC held a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” saw Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears and an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan as well as performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends.

A free documentary screening is scheduled today at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations. – Bernama, June 21, 2013.

Fallacy And Absurdity

June, 20, 2013 – 7:11 pm

Fallacy And Absurdity

With the demand of traditional medicine seekers, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild – BSBCC Wong

By Jaswinder Kler

caged20SANDAKAN: Hunted for generations in the jungles of Borneo for the bile from its gall bladder and for food, the Malayan Sun Bear continues to be a target for the ever present global demand in traditional medicine and exotic meat.

The fallacy of the benefits of bile and the idiocy of humans is threatening the world’s smallest bear which is said to have dwindled in numbers by 30 per cent in the last three decades.

Asiatic Black Bears, for example, are kept in unimaginably cruel conditions in small metal cages and their bile extracted for up to 20 years, and then killed once they are unable to produce the liquid.

While there are no bear bile farms in Malaysia, bear bile is consumed locally. Bear gall bladder, bear bile capsules and other bile products are sold illegally in traditional medicine stores.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said natives, particularly in Borneo, traditionally believe that the Sun Bear’s bile ejects itself out of the gall bladder and spreads inside a bear’s body, healing injuries in a fall.

File picture of Sun Bear bile sold at the Gaya Street market in Kota Kinabalu. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

File picture of Sun Bear bile sold at the Gaya Street market in Kota Kinabalu. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

“Sun Bears can climb high up on trees and normally climb down slowly from the tree. However when they encounter human encroachment in the forest when they are on a tree, they tend to slide down quickly or even drop themselves from the tree. They then recover quickly and go about their day.

“This has erroneously made people believe that the phenomenon is due to the power of the Sun Bear bile that spreads within the body and heals the bears, allowing them to recover instantly.

“This is why Sun Bears are traditionally hunted in the wild for their bile, apart from their meat,” Wong said.

With this demand, Sun Bears continue to be at risk of getting hunted in the wild, Wong said in a statement to create awareness on the plight of Sun Bears.

While the actual number of Sun Bears in the wild is unknown, its status as a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and its listing as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List are not keeping those after its bile away from the risk of prosecution.

BSBCC founder and CEO Wong Siew Te with rescued Sun Bear, Natalie. As cubs, bears are cute but the law does not allow anyone to keep them as pets. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

BSBCC founder and CEO Wong Siew Te with rescued Sun Bear, Natalie. As cubs, bears are cute but the law does not allow anyone to keep them as pets. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

Under the Enactment, those found in possession of a Sun Bear or its product could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or a jail term of five years, or both.

Wong said Sun Bears are still hunted in Borneo for their purported medicinal properties, and cited a recent news report on bear meat and parts being sold at a market in Kapit, Sarawak.

Other threats that Sun Bears face include habitat loss and demand for the exotic pet trade.

“Sun Bear cubs are cute and there is demand for such a pet. To get a cub, the mother is killed to prevent hunters from getting harmed. Once these cubs grow, they become aggressive and it becomes dangerous to keep them as pets.

“This is when they are surrendered to the authorities. They lose survival skills when kept as pets, as this is something they learn from their mothers,” he said.

Bears surrendered to or confiscated by the Sabah Wildlife Department are sent to the BSBCC adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. It is currently home to 28 Sun Bears.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC is planning to hold a fund raiser on July 20 in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

Sun Bears are also sought after for the pet trade, but problems emerge once the bears grow older and become aggressive. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

Sun Bears are also sought after for the pet trade, but problems emerge once the bears grow older and become aggressive. – Picture courtesy of BSBCC.

The fundraising dinner with the theme “Big Dreams, Little Bears” will see Wong sharing with guests updates on Sun Bears, apart from an exclusive photographic art auction by Jonathan Tan and performances by Jaclyn Victor, Gary Chow, Pink Tan and Amir Yussof and friends.

A free documentary screening is scheduled for July 21 at the Sabah Hotel for 500 students, teachers and representatives of local associations.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

Major funders for BSBCC include Yayasan Sime Darby, the federal Tourism Ministry, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, the Sabah State Government and other foreign and local organisations.

To learn more about Sun Bears, visit www.bsbcc.org.my and Facebook page www.facebook.com/ sunbear.bsbcc.

The untold story – Sun Bears and their impacts

http://borneoinsider.com/2013/05/29/the-untold-story-sun-bears-and-their-impacts/

 

May, 29, 2013 – 5:58 pm

The untold story – Sun Bears and their impacts

A Sun Bear digging decayed wood in search of termites and other wood burrowing invertebrates. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

A Sun Bear digging decayed wood in search of termites and other wood burrowing invertebrates. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

By Jaswinder Kler

SANDAKAN: From dispersing fruit seeds to carving out narrow holes on trees, later used by hornbills and squirrels to nest in, the Malayan Sun Bear contributes to a thriving forest.

The smallest of the world’s bears serve as forest doctors, engineers and planters and by foraging for termites and other insects, help mix nutrients in the soil.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the species that lives in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia plays important roles in the ecosystem.

Describing the Sun Bear’s task as a forest doctor, Wong said the species uses its claws to scrape off and destroy termite nests around tree bark, and this in turn saves the host tree from dying due to termite infestation.

“Sun Bears do this to get termites and their larvae, an important food source for these bears. If they do not do this, the termites will eventually kill the host tree by feeding on the wood fiber from the inside.

“Uncontrolled termite populations could lead to the death of many trees,” he said in a statement issued by the BSBCC to create awareness on the Sun Bear which is listed as “Vulnerable” on The IUCN Red List and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.

Threats including habitat loss, poaching and the pet trade have led to a decline by at least 30 per cent of the species in the last three decades. Their actual numbers in the wild are unknown.

Wong Siew Te examining a tree cavity dug by a Sun Bear looking for honey. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

Wong Siew Te examining a tree cavity dug by a Sun Bear looking for honey. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

Wong said Sun Bears are fond of eating honey, creating holes in trees when extracting honey of stingless bees that build nests under tree bark.

“Holes that Sun Bears create are eventually used by hornbills or squirrels to nest in. They build homes for other forest dwellers and this is why we call Sun Bears forest engineers,” he said, adding that in Bahasa Malaysia, the species is known as beruang madu since it likes consuming honey (madu is the Bahasa Malaysia word for honey).

He said as forest planters, Sun Bears spread seeds of large fruits such as durian and jackfruit when travelling in a wide home range of about 14 square kilometers.

“They are among the largest mammals in the tropical rainforest and through their travels, they defecate swallowed seeds, away from the mother tree which increases chances of the seeds’ survival.

“Through their role as nutrient mixers, Sun Bears facilitate soil turn over and regeneration when they forage for termites and other insects,” he said.

Wong said despite the many important functions that Sun Bears serve, their long term survival in the wild depends on the continuous existence of natural forests.

A Sun Bear destroying a termite nest to hunt for termites. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

A Sun Bear destroying a termite nest to hunt for termites. – Photo courtesy of BSBCC.

He stressed that as forest dependent species, Sun Bears cannot survive in oil palm or other agricultural plantations.

“They need large tracts of natural forests in order for them to sustain viable populations where they can search for food, shelter and reproduce. There is so much that Sun Bears are doing for the forest and this is something we all need to understand and appreciate.

“Today, their numbers are going down and more are ending up in captivity,” he said.

The BSBCC located adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is currently housing 28 rescued bears. Some were illegally kept as pets and others were found trapped following forest clearing.

The BSBCC is hoping to hold a fund raiser on 20th July in Sandakan to meet the ever increasing costs of caring for Sun Bears in captivity and for awareness work.

Awareness activities will be stepped up once the BSBCC is officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.

The BSBCC is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).

To learn more about Sun Bears, visit www.bsbcc.org.my and Facebook page www.facebook.com/ sunbear.bsbcc.

Habitat loss and poaching threatens survival of Sun Bears

http://www.nst.com.my/latest/habitat-loss-and-poaching-threatens-survival-of-sun-bears-1.283981#ixzz2U1Kiromo

 

SANDAKAN: Habitat loss and poaching have led to a decline of up to 30 per cent of the Malayan sun bear population in the last three decades, according to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).

In Borneo, this smallest of the world’s eight bear species is also seeing a drop in numbers following their illegal capture for the pet trade and when they are wrongly perceived as pests and gunned down, said BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te.

The Polar Bear, Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Spectacled Bear, Sloth Bear, Giant Panda and Asiatic Black Bear are other better known bear species.

Found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, the exact number of sun bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing toreduce pressure on a species that is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.

Sun bears are also classified as a totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, providing it the same status as the Orang Utan and the Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Wong said the sun bear was divided into two sub-species – the Helarctosmalayanus malayanus and the Helarctos malayanus euryspilus, with the latter, smaller bear found only in Borneo.

“In other words, sun bears in Borneo are even smaller than the sun bears found in other parts of Malaysia and the region.

We hope to share with more locals how fortunate we are that such a unique bear is found here in Borneo, and right here in Sabah,” he said in a statement.

He said the shrinking forest cover made poaching and capturing of wild bear seasier due to increased contact with human settlements.

“Our centre is now holding 28 rescued bears. Some were illegally kept as pets and others were trapped in the forest, and sent here.

“Bears here are trained to adapt to the forest within an enclosed area as some have never been in the wild, having been kept as pets from a young age. They are then evaluated to see if they can be released into the wild,” he said.

The centre is located adjacent to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, here.

“In Borneo, sun bears continue to face threat from habitat destruction and poaching. We need to protect the remaining forest cover if we are to secure the future of the sun bears and, at the same time, eliminate any poaching of these bears in the wild,” Wong said.

He said awareness activities would be stepped up once the centre was officially opened to the public, tentatively by early next year.   — BERNAMA

Read more: Habitat loss and poaching threatens survival of Sun Bears – Latest – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/habitat-loss-and-poaching-threatens-survival-of-sun-bears-1.283981#ixzz2U5JxJsxD

RM2.1mil support for Bornean Sun Bear conservation

Saturday March 30, 2013

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=%2F2013%2F3%2F30%2Fsouthneast%2F12896396&sec=southneast#.UVaa_JPOw-I.facebook

 
BSBCC’s youngest resc ued sun bear: Damai, a seven-month-old cub, is seen chewing off decayed wood to look for termites to eat. She was found in a residential area in Damai in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was then sent to the Lok Kawi Zoo before being sent to BSBCC.BSBCC’s youngest resc ued sun bear: Damai, a seven-month-old cub, is seen chewing off decayed wood to look for termites to eat. She was found in a residential area in Damai in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was then sent to the Lok Kawi Zoo before being sent to BSBCC.

WITH a distinctive pale horseshoe-shaped imprint on their chests coupled with their cute and cuddly disposition, it is easy to understand why anyone would fall in love with the Malayan sun bears.

Despite the fact that sun bears are a protected species, some unscrupulous people hunt them down for their body parts which are consumed for medicinal purposes while the cubs end up as pets. Over the years, this practice has tragically depleted the sun bear population.

Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest and least known members of the bear family and their population is rapidly diminishing in South-East Asia.

With the support of Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok, Sabah, has been working hard to right the wrongdoings of mankind. BSBCC has been rescuing sun bears which have been kept as pets and caring for them with the hope of releasing them back into the wild in the future.

BSBCC is a non-profit organisation initiated by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and a non-government organisation, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), in 2008 to look after the plight of captive and orphaned sun bears in Sabah and to promote conservation efforts.

In 2012, YSD allocated funding of RM2.1 million for the BSBCC. A major chunk of the funding is being used to renovate an existing bear house and to construct a second bear house where the rescued sun bears will be relocated.

YSD’s sponsorship also includes the construction of a visitor information centre and opening the BSBCC to the public, which would provide financial sustenance to the BSBCC.

YSD governing council member Caroline Christine Russell said the foundation’s sponsorship would help rescued sun bears to recuperate and be rehabilitated in a safe and protected environment.

“When sun bears are kept and treated as pets, they grow into adulthood without learning the necessary skills to survive in the wild. YSD is highly supportive of BSBCC’s mission to rescue captured sun bears and promote sun bear conservation in Borneo. This will halt cruelty to these animals including the killing of sun bears for their supposed medicinal value and keeping their offspring as pets,” she said.

BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the process of catching a sun bear cub involved killing its mother.

“If the law allows sun bears to be kept as pets, it will only fuel demand which would lead to more poaching of sun bears,” he said.

There have also been instances where poachers left cubs to die, after killing their mothers for body parts. The demand for the sun bear’s bile and other parts especially for traditional medicine and even for delicacies is said to be among the reasons for the poaching and illegal trade of the species.

The Malayan sun bear has been classified as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book Listing of Endangered Species since 2007 due to its dwindling population over the past 30 years.

Sun bears do not breed well in captivity and due to their naturally slow reproductive rate, a female sun bear may only have up to three to four cubs in her lifetime. Thus, excessive hunting or capturing of cubs can easily wipe out the local population.

It is illegal to kill or hunt these bears under the 1997 Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Malayan sun bear could face a mandatory jail term between one month and a year.

The BSBCC is currently home to 28 rescued sun bears.

The latest addition is a four-month old female cub that was found in a housing area in Kota Kinabalu in early November last year.

For more information on what BSBCC does and how the public can help with the sun bear’s conservation efforts, please visithttp://www.bsbcc.org.my.

Boost for sun bear conservation

http://www.selangortimes.com/index.php?section=news&permalink=20130328164457-boost-for-sun-bear-conservation

Published: Fri, 29 Mar 2013

KUALA LUMPUR:  Thanks to support from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok, Sabah, has been able to continue rescuing sun bears which have been kept as pets and caring for them with the hope of releasing them back into the wild in the future.

Five-year-old Kuamut walking on a fallen tree in the forest enclosure of BSBCC. The female, named after the town she was found in, was rescued in January 2009. She was found kept as a pet in a small iron-cage with two heavy metal chains with a brass lock weighing more than 2kg holding her down.  

In 2012, YSD allocated RM2.1 million for the BSBCC.

A major chunk of the funding is being used to renovate an existing bear house and to construct a second bear house where the rescued sun bears will be relocated.

YSD’s sponsorship also includes the construction of a visitor information centre and opening the BSBCC to the public, which would provide financial sustenance to the BSBCC.

Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest and least known members of the bear family and their population is rapidly diminishing in Southeast Asia.

But despite being a protected species, sun bears are killed for their body parts which are consumed for medicinal purposes while the cubs end up as pets.

Over the years, this practice has tragically depleted the sun bear population.

BSBCC is a non-profit organisation initiated by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and a non-government organisation, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), in 2008 to look into the plight of captive and orphaned sun bears in Sabah and to promote conservation efforts.

YSD governing council member Caroline Christine Russell said the foundation’s sponsorship would help rescued sun bears to recuperate and be rehabilitated in a safe and protected environment.

“When sun bears are kept and treated as pets, they grow into adulthood without learning the necessary skills to survive in the wild. YSD is highly supportive of BSBCC’s mission to rescue captured sun bears and promote sun bear conservation in Borneo. This will halt cruelty to these animals including the killing of sun bears for their supposed medicinal value and keeping their offspring as pets,” she said.

BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the process of catching a sun bear cub involved killing its mother.

“If the law allows sun bears to be kept as pets, it will only fuel demand which would lead to more poaching of sun bears,” he said.

The Malayan sun bear has been classified as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book Listing of Endangered Species since 2007 due to its dwindling population over the past 30 years.

Sun bears do not breed well in captivity and due to their naturally slow reproductive rate, a female sun bear may only have up to three to four cubs in her lifetime.

Thus, excessive hunting or capturing of cubs can easily wipe out the local population.

It is illegal to kill or hunt these bears under the 1997 Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Malayan sun bear could face a mandatory jail term of between one month and a year. For more information on what BSBCC does and how the public can help with the sun bear’s conservation efforts, visit http://www.bsbcc.org.my.

 

 

 

 

A dip for the bears

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2013/2/25/lifeliving/12587245&sec=lifeliving

Monday February 25, 2013

By LIM CHIA YING
[email protected]

<b>Bear necessities:</b> Friends Katie McDonald (left) and Anna Marie Zarb in their sun bear costumes, shortly before they took the Loony Dook challenge along with other participants. Bear necessities: Friends Katie McDonald (left) and Anna Marie Zarb in their sun bear costumes, shortly before they took the Loony Dook challenge along with other participants.

Two English women brave freezing waters to raise funds for our Bornean sun bears.

ARMED with nothing more than a spunky heart and a genuine concern for animal welfare, two friends braved the icy waters at an annual dip event to raise funds for Bornean sun bears.

Katie McDonald and Anna Marie Zarb, who both hail from England, participated in the New Year’s Day Loony Dook challenge held at Scotland’s Firth of Forth, the estuary in which River Forth meets the North Sea.

The event drew participants, both young and old, who took a leap of faith by plunging into the icy depths of the firth as a novel way of celebrating the New Year.

A conversation between two pals over drinks during Christmas break in 1986 sparked off the idea after one of them suggested dipping in the firth to clear their hangovers! When more friends took to the idea, Loony Dook was thus born, and is now celebrated in a much more boisterous manner than in the past.

People come from around the world to join in or be a spectator, and over time, the participants have also made the dip a fundraiser for charities of their choice. Part of the fun lies in some of the bizzare costumes that participants don.

To reflect the charity they picked – the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, Malaysia – McDonald and Zarb made online purchases of outfits which they later modified to look like that of a sun bear with its unique yellow chest patch.

So what motivated McDonald and Zarb to raise funds for an NGO that is nearly halfway around the globe from their home country?

“I was in Malaysia for a few years and saw that it is such a beautiful country. There’s such an amazing biodiversity, but the ecosystem is fragile and many of the animals are threatened,” said McDonald, 28, in an e-mail interview.

“During my stint in Malaysia, I worked closely with a number of wildlife and conservation-related organisations. It was tough having to single out one particular project to raise funds for. I felt that the work carried out at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre covered a lot of important areas which included animal welfare, wildlife rehabilitation, habitat preservation, public education and research. I also like the idea of bringing awareness of tropical animals and conservation to a different part of the world.”

For Zarb, 34, the plight of animals is a subject close to her heart, and she is happy to help any animal charity, regardless of its location.

Both women are currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at the Edinburgh University, which was how they met.

“Loony Dook is a part of Hogmanay (a uniquely Scottish New Year celebration that dates back to olden times) and certainly seems like fun!” said Zarb.

On the day of the event, the weather was sunny. Despite that, they could still feel the chill while waiting for their turn to jump in.

“We had no idea what the water temperature would be like, only that it would be cold! The thought of a good cause helped us overcome the temperature anxiety!” said McDonald.

“Anna decided that the best strategy was to scream and run in, so that was what we did and after a few seconds, we kind of lost feeling anyway! All around, there were stewards from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution stopping people from going too deep as a safety measure,” said McDonald.

The duo stayed in the water for a couple of minutes, accompanied by a quick swim.

“At the end of the day, we know that it’s BSBCC and the sun bears that are benefiting, so it was worth braving the cold!” added McDonald.

In mid-December, she had put up a posting on a social networking site to share what she was doing, to raise a targeted sum of £200.

“We wanted to raise greater awareness about sun bears in the hope that more people would think about them and find out more about this little known but fascinating animal,” said McDonald.

“I have visited the centre several times as I used to work for a company which brought groups of school kids to Sabah.

“One of the projects we undertook was making enrichment toys for the bears; we learnt about their natural behaviour and the ecology of the species. All the centre’s personnel were so supportive of the students. They were happy to share their knowledge and passion for sun bears.

“The centre’s founder, Wong Siew Te, is a leading expert, yet he always has time to spend with visitors and share everything he knows about sun bears, the smallest among eight bear species. It’s a fantastic centre and a great place to learn about sun bears and conservation,” said McDonald, who recently helped to raise funds for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, as well as Save the Children, a global organisation working to help children get access to food, education, healthcare and human rights.

To learn more about the sun bears, visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre homepage at www.bsbcc.org.my/.