Thursday, August 1, 2013

InsightSabah : Sun Bear conservation is a community effort

BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te with a Sun Bear cub. - Photo courtesy of BSBCC

Nature and wildlife conservation works are not the sole concern of the government, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and researchers. The whole society has an active role to play too.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer, Wong Siew Te said as both humans and wildlife are part of the ecosystem, there must be willingness on the part of the people to get involved whenever they can to save the threatened species.

Citing the recent 'Big Dreams, Little Bears' event which was held Sandakan on July 20th, Wong said that BSBCC worked with a group of local volunteers to raise RM443,000 - covering almost a quarter of the RM2 million budget for this year to complete a second bear house, create an additional forest enclosure and other work.

“I hope the people of Sandakan will get a sense of ownership of the Centre because it is through their involvement, one way or another, that has helped the facility come this far and which will drive it further," said Wong, adding that habitat loss, poaching for parts used in traditional medicine and the pet trade are among key threats to the Sun Bear population. This has led to a decline by at least 30 per cent of the Sun Bear population in the last three decades.

Once the Centre is opened to the public by early next year, it will become an important eco-tourism attraction that would allow Sandakan to do more to promote conservation.

The Centre, which was set up in 2008 under a partnership between the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and NGO Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), is currently home to 28 bears rescued from the wild and from unauthorized homes. It is also the first facility of its kind in the world for Sun Bears.

A boardwalk leading to the viewing platform at the BSBCC in Sandakan. The Centre is scheduled to be open to the public next year. - Photo courtesy of BSBCC

Located next to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, the Centre's main objective is to create a rehabilitation, research and education facility to help bears released from captivity to find its way back to the wild. The centre also provides habitat for those that can no loner return to the wild. - Insight Sabah

Some of the 500 students who turned up for the documentary screening on Sun Bears in a happy mood after learning more about the species. - Photo courtesy of BSBCC


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