Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members unless stated otherwise) Special Mention: Borneo Sandakan Tours, Four Points Sheraton Sandakan, BIG Air Asia & Official Website of Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center)
Our Travel Journal continues here at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC), Sepilok. The center is located next to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center which is a bonus for visitors as no longer trip is required. If you have never seen a Sun Bear, this is definitely the right place for you. We pretty much listed this place as one of the must-visit location in Sandakan. In general, BSBCC is a sun bear rescue and rehabilitation facility being developed in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. It is therefore a great center to learn about sun bears and observe them in their natural habitat.
Depending on the time you come here and of course your luck, you might be able to some Sun Bears either on top the trees or on the ground, doing things as they want to! If you are not so lucky, you will only get a glimpse of them. When we came here, it was almost noon and the heat from the Sun probably made them ‘hiding’ somewhere in the bushes or so. We managed to see about only 2-3 Sun bears walking, playing and later hide, escaping from the heat I guess. Nevertheless, let us show to all of you what this place is about, in case you decide to come here .
(Reference: BSBCC Official Website)
Malayan sun bears are the smallest bears in the world and are only found in Southeast Asia. These bears continue to be threatened by forest degradation, illegal hunting for bear parts and poaching to obtain young cubs for pet trade. The results of these threats has caused young sun bears found to be living in unnatural captive conditions in Sabah, with no access to outdoor areas. There are currently 40 rescued ex-captive sun bears residing at the BSBCC. The facility includes large forest enclosures to provide a natural environment suited to the needs and welfare of the sun bears and facilitate their rehabilitation back into the wild.
The team at BSBCC in Sepilok-Kabili Forest Reserve reintroduce bears into their natural habitat and provide the largest forest enclosures of any sun bear centre. The care they provide is the closest a captive sun bear can come to life in the wild. Their expert researchers and rehabilitators work with the bears to develop the skills necessary – foraging, climbing trees, nest building and self-defense – for independence in the forest. For cubs, their experts become surrogate mothers until the bears gain their independence. They constantly develop “enrichment activities” to improve welfare and encourage species specific behavior.
The center is the only in the world that offers potential release candidates the chance to naturalize to forest life before they are released. Their researchers and rehabilitators closely monitor each bear and identify potential release candidates and work to develop their skills and encourage their independence. Sadly, sometimes the bears are too traumatized for release to be possible, for these bears BSBCC provides a dignified permanent home.
For more details about this center, click this LINK (Official Website of BSBCC)
Right after the touring the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center, Gary of Borneo Sandakan Tours took us to BSBCC. After about 1 minute or so walking on the paved walkway, we arrived at the Visitor Center, a place to get the tickets of course and there is one souvenir shop and an educational corner where you can watch the program about BSBCC on the Monitor/TV. Let’s have a look around the Visitor Center, shall we?
Visitors may watch the video presentation in regard to the center’s function, about Sun Bears and many more.
Here are some of the Sun Bear’s Food Specimen shown to visitors. It is an opportunity to understand what kind of food does the Sun Bears are consuming.
Next to the reception/ticketing counter is the souvenir shop.
We’re not sure what’s this for, perhaps someone is trying to create replica of Sun Bears.
..some interesting arts at this Visitor Center.
The editor is getting ready for the paved walkway…
..and the walk begins on a paved walkway
..along the way, there will be some educational corners explaining things A-Z about Sun Bear..
Gary from Borneo Sandakan Tours lead the way..
Gary taking us to the new platform…there is a new viewing platform in addition to the existing one
The editor with his ‘Toy’..
Keep walking Mr Editor..
More of the editor, pretty excited to see some Sun Bears
Sun Bears that we saw
We kind of using our naked eye to spot that Sun Bear…can you see it?
View of the surrounding area from the boardwalk
Finally, sorry about the image quality..
We kind of had to zoom to get this image..
One Sun Bear walking around…how lucky we were that day!
Though we did not see quite a number of Sun Bears during our visit, we still recommend this center to all of you. It’s worth visiting this center as one can actually learn more about Sun Bears and who knows during your visit, you might be able to see more Sun Bears than we did. No one was at fault, not even the Sun Bears fault when we could not see most of them. It was mid day anyway and the heat probably hindering them from wandering around in the open. We should have come here a little bit earlier. Do give this place a slot in your itinerary should you be visiting Sandakan.
Under 12: Malaysians (Free) Non Malaysians (Free)
12-17: Malaysians (RM 2.10) Non Malaysians (RM 15.90)
Adults 18+: Malaysians (RM5.30) Non Malaysians (RM31.80)
The tour to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center is made possible by:
Borneo Sandakan Tours
Block HS-05, Lot 54, 1st Floor
Sandakan Harbour Square
90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
Phone: + 60 89 215 754
Fax: + 60 89 232 754
24/7 Line: + 60 13 888 7623 (Jon) / + 60 14 654 2818 (Gary)
Facebook: Borneo Sandakan Tours (Click HERE)
Website: borneosandakan.com (Click HERE)