The sun bear is found in the tropical rain forest habitats of Borneo and in some parts of Southeast Asia. The large scale of deforestation in the past many decades has dramatically reduced suitable habitat for the sun bears. The Borneo sun bear is also known as the "honey bear", as they have a strong appetite for honeycombs and honey. Honey, beetles, termites, ants and fruits make up their daily diet.
The sun bear's fur is usually jet-black, short and sleek with some under wool.
The major threat to the sun bears are the habitat loss where deforestation is still actively happening in Borneo for plantation development. Because of the threat, in 2008, sun bear researcher Wong Siew Te, imitated a joint project between Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Sabah Forestry Department to establish the Bornean Sun bear Conversation Centre (BSBCC) in the Sepilok-Kabili Forest Reserve of Sandakan.
Viewing platform at BSBCC
The mission of BSBCC is not a zoo or a main tourist attraction, but a centre to improve sun bear welfare, and for education, research and rehabilitation. The objective is to create the capacity to confiscate, rehabilitate and release suitable orphaned and ex-captive bears back into the wild. The centre aims to be a strong base to educate the public about the plight of the sun bears, to raise conservation awareness about this species, and to conduct more research on this species. Currently there are 30+ rescued sun bears residing in the centre.
Visitors who wish to visit the centre, the opening hours daily is from 09:00am to 3:00 pm. The admission fee: RM15.00 for local Malaysian and RM30.00 for adult foreigner, Child under 12 years old is free. The centre is located 23 km from Sandakan town. It's just next to the Sepilok Orang Utan rehabilitation Centre. Public bus services and taxi are available.
** Pictures: courtesy of BSBCC.