The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) – the only sunbear conservation centre in the world has finally opening its door to public on 17th January 2014; strategically located next to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan. It was founded by Siew Te Wong, in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally.
While polar bears and panda has been the long concerned to the world with its cuteness, however I think people will fall in love with these little creatures as soon as they see the little bear. Sun Bear also known as Honey Bear which refers to its appetite for honeycombs and honey; a male Sun Bear is only about a size of the large dog. It was named Sun Bear because of the distinctive white mark on its chest which look like sun, it is interesting to know that the marks on each bear have slight different in patterns which make Sun Bear identifiable individually.
|Sun Bear walking around in the forest enclosures in BSBCC|
Although Sun Bear was classified as “Totally Protected Species” in Sabah, yet Sun Bears are still facing threats from deforestation for plantation and illegal lodging in restricted area; illegal trading and killing by farmers and traders. “I am determined to help Bornean sun bears. The challenge is huge, and I cannot do this alone. I need help, support and allies. Every voice counts and together we can make a difference.” said Wong.
For the last 13 years, Wong, one of the few Malaysian wildlife biologists trained in a western country, has been studying and working on the ecological conservation of the sun bear. His studies of these little creatures in the Bornean Rainforest are pioneering and have taken him to the most threatened wildlife habitat on Earth, where field work is exceedingly difficult. With hope, through the opening of BSBCC to public, it would raise public education and awareness towards Bornean Sun Bear which eventually contribute to the effort of protecting the species.
By Natalie Tan