Join me in visiting the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, a non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing sun bears. The center provides a safe and natural environment for sun bears, allowing them to climb trees and socialise with other bears. Known for being the smallest bears in the world, sun bears get their name from the characteristic orange coloured chest patch and can only be found on Borneo.
Established in 2008, the center has already rescued over 60 sun bears, with 12 successfully released back into the wild already. During my visit, I met with Dr. Wong, the founder of the rescue center, to discuss what can be done to help the sun bears. Dr. Wong explains that sun bears are facing numerous threats in the wild due to human activities, including habitat loss and hunting. In Asian culture, sun bears are considered a source of food, and their cubs are illegally kept as pets. Dr. Wong and his team work tirelessly to provide round-the-clock care for the sun bears, ensuring their good health and teaching them essential survival skills.
The bears are being rehabilitated, to one day be released into the wild, they need to be afraid of humans, or they would be at risk of being poached. So, the team only ever wears the sun bear tshirts in their vicinity (with the same chest marking as the bears) to ensure that the sun bears recognize the team as no threat, while all other humans still are one. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to witness a vet session for an injured rescued sun bear, which, after receiving care, is able to rejoin its fellow bears.
Saving sun bears is not only crucial for their own well-being but also for the wider ecosystem. Sun bears play a vital role as forest farmers, because their process of digging and foraging enhances the soil and prepares it for plant growth.
There are various ways in which everyone can support Dr. Wong's work and contribute to a brighter future for sun bears. As a student, one can study sun bears to help understand their behavior and needs. Artists can create beautiful paintings showcasing these incredible animals, while photographers are encouraged to visit the center and capture the beauty of the sun bears in their natural habitat. Additionally, volunteering at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is another valuable way to make a difference and contribute to the conservation efforts.
This film was made in collaboration with Jack Wolfskin.