I have been in France since August 2020 and have not yet been able to go back to Indonesia to pursue the projects of Sun Bear Outreach. I had bought a ticket to go back in July 2021 but had to cancel the trip because of the COVID pandemic. Now, even if I could perhaps find a way of entering Indonesia despite the Omicron wave, I am unfortunately unable to travel because I’m accompanying my mother in her end of life. I’m with her in her house 24/7 to give her peace and comfort as she slowly withers away.
I am thus sorry to say that the activities of Sun Bear Outreach are on stand-by for the time being, but they will pick up again as soon as I am free to go back to Indonesia.
I had bought a ticket to go back to Indonesia on July 18th, but the COVID situation there is going from bad to worse and travel restrictions for foreigners entering the country are still in place. Unfortunately I have no choice but to reschedule my trip to later. The bears Lucy and Alaya will have to wait a little longer before I can build them the new enclosure I promised.
Alaya – Samboja Lestari June 2020
The good news is that Sun Bear Outreach now has enough funds (30.000 €) to build a new forest enclosure for Lucy and Alaya at the Samboja Lestari sanctuary in East Kalimantan. The bad news is that a new young bear named Melina arrived recently at the sanctuary. I’m hoping that Melina will be able to join Lucy and Alaya, which would mean that we would have to build a bigger enclosure than we had planned. Of course, the bigger the enclosure, the more expensive it is. So we might need more funds…
Map new enclosure for Lucy and Alaya
For now I prefer to wait and see what happens with the COVID pandemic in Indonesia before I make too many plans. By the time I can get to Samboja to build the new enclosure for Lucy, Alaya and Melina, there might be a fourth bear in the group!
While the main focus of Sun Bear Outreach is to improve the wellbeing of captive sun bears, we are happy to help all animals in need. Empathy is what drives us but our compassion is not limited to sun bears, it applies to all animals.
Sibin – Binturong et WRC
At the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) in Borneo where we’ve built forest enclosures for the bears, we also built a large enclosure for Gulu-gulu, the cassowary, and we made many improvements to the cages of the gibbons, the macaques, the binturongs and the orang-utans.
At the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Jogjakarta (WRC), once we helped improve the well-being of the 2 sun bears, we financed the renovation of large dome cages for the macaques, the binturongs and the gibbons. We also helped in the renovation of the aviaries for the eagles.
Volunteers making enrichment for the sun bears
Fleur enjoying her enrichment
In addition to the enclosures we build and the renovations that we handle, we also train the Indonesian staff to the notion of “animal welfare”. We welcome volunteers from around the world to come work with the local staff and have them participate in improving the day to day life of the animals that they are responsible for. Working together on making enrichment for the animals is a good way for foreigners and locals to meet and exchange. And in the end it is also good for the animals.
Despite the COVID pandemic, renovation work at the Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) in Jogjakarta, Indonesia is progressing slowly but surely. This is thanks to your donations and to the work of Tojeiro, a young Dutch volunteer who is working full time at WRC. The eagles now have new fence roofs on their aviary and pre-release cages, the orang-utans and the gibbons have a new drinking system in place and the binturongs will soon have a new large dome enclosure for themselves.
Sibin – Binturong et WRC
At the Samboja Lestari rescue centre of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), the local staff is caring for the 71 sun bears since my return to France in August 2020. I am told that all the bears are well and that the dirt road which goes around the enclosures will soon be paved. My next project at Samboja Lestari will be the construction of a new 0,5 Ha forest enclosure with 2 dens for the 2 cubs Lucy and Alaya. I had hope to get construction going before the end of 2020 but travel restrictions to Indonesia have made it impossible for me to go there and get the project started.
Alaya – Samboja Lestari June 2020
As I wait for the green light to go back to Samboja Lestari, I continue to fundraise for the new enclosure for Lucy and Alaya. So far, Sun Bear Outreach has raised 20.000 euros or the 30.000 necessary. I’m hoping that BOS Switzerland will be able to chip in but I don’t know how much yet. So if you want to help make a new forest enclosure for 2 sun bear cubs, don’t hesitate to make a donation. Any amount is welcomed.
Thanks to your donations and to a long term volunteer who is working full time at the Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, 3 of the renovations we had planed are done and the others are in progress: the 2 sun bears have a new pool, the food prep room has new tiles, the macaques have a new large cage and soon there will also be a large cage for the binturongs, one for the eagles and another for the gibbons.
BOSF – Kancil and Banjar in their enclosure
At the Samboja Lestari rescue centre of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), the 16 new forest enclosures are finished and most of the 71 sun bears are now dispatched in their new homes enjoying their natural habitat. But the arrival of many new bears at the centre in the last 12 months has once again put the sanctuary in a position of overcapacity. The plan for now is to build one new forest enclosure of 0,5 Ha in size for the 2 cubs Lucy and Alaya who still don’t have access to the forest.
BOSF – Lucy (July 2020)
The cost for constructing this new 0,5 Ha enclosure with 2 dens is about 30.000 EUR. We hope that BOS Switzerland will be able to fundraise 50% while Sun Bear Outreach will try to raise the other 50% and supervise the construction. With the COVID pandemic it is impossible to plan things too much in advance, but I’m hoping we can get construction going before the end of 2020.
As the coronavirus spreads around the world and countries lock down one after the other, it becomes increasingly difficult for many animal rescue centres that depend financially on visitors and volunteers to be able to meet their running costs and feed their animals. The Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) of Jogjakarta in Indonesia is one of those centres with 150 animals in its care, from crocodiles to orang-utans.
Sibin – Binturong at WRC
Before the COVID crisis, WRC was raising about 2000 USD every month from volunteers who paid to come help at the refuge. This monthly income which barely allowed WRC feed the animals is now gone. Last week, in a desperate measure to get funds, WRC had decided to cut down 3 beautiful old trees on its site and sell the wood to a carpenter. Sun Bear Outreach managed to save the trees by hastily sending 600 Euros to WRC. This is how desperate they are.
Teagan – Sun Bear at WRC
Mungil – Orangutan at WRC
I understand that times are difficult for most of you but if you can, please help Sun Bear Outreach support the Wildlife Rescue Centre of Jogjakarta. You can of course also help them directly by donating through their website. Thank you.
Construction of the 15 forest enclosures (A to O) is going well at Samboja Lestari, the rescue centre of Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). They are all done except for one, Enclosure J, which we are now working on.
Asri and India
We recently moved a group of 7 juvenile bears in Enclosure A, of 1,7 hectares (about 4 acres) in size. These 7 buddies all come from different backgrounds: Deni and India had arrived as cubs at Samboja and were taken out for walks in the forest for the first 6 months, then they had to be kept in a cage when they became unmanageable outdoors. So they are very happy to be able to go out again. Some, like Berung, Asri, Borela and Tapir, have probably never been out in the forest before and this is a big learning experience for them, putting to the test their ability to climb trees.
Deni and India
The last one, Bernard, just arrived a few weeks ago at the rescue centre. He was probably kept all of his life in a tiny cage and his skeleton hasn’t developed properly, he walks with difficulty. For him, going out in the forest has been a huge event: he discovered his love for digging! He digs for the pleasure of digging.
After letting all the bears out on the first day, Bernard didn’t come back for 3 days, he was probably somewhere in the middle of the enclosure digging his way to the other side of the Earth. But he eventually got hungry and, on the fourth day, found his way back to the cage.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation now has 4 sun bear cubs!
-Pampy (6 months old) female, arrived at BOS Samboja on 14 September, now going out in the forest every day at the rescue centre.
-Madu (7 months old) male, arrived at BOS Samboja on 17 November, now friends with Pampy and just about to begin going out in the forest with her.
-Khala (3 months old) female, arrived at BOS Samboja on 18 October, too small to be with Pampy or Madu, but goes for walks in the forest between her milk bottles and her naps.
-Tinka (3 months old) female, now at Nyaru Manteng, the other BOS centre in Central Kalimantan. (soon to be transferred to Samboja)
Pampy Oct 2019
I’m suggesting to BOS that we try release Pampy and Madu in one of their orangutan release sites, and Khala and Tinka in another. The plan would be to get Pampy and Madu out there in March 2020 and Khala and Tinka in April or May 2020. Then they would be “walked” daily in the forest for about 18 months, until they become independent and autonomous. It’s a unique opportunity to give these 4 orphaned cubs a chance to live the life that they should have had. If we don’t do it now, they will spend the next 25 to 30 years in captivity.
Madu Nov 2019
I have 2 volunteers helping me now at Samboja with the cubs, but they won’t be staying long, a third volunteer is coming soon with an 18 months commitment to take the two older cubs out. So I’m still looking for another long term volunteer for the two younger cubs.
Khala Oct 2019
Sun Bear Outreach and BOS Switzerland are fundraising for this, to pay for the expenses of the cubs, the local staff needed and to reimburse the expenses of the volunteers.
Thanks for helping.
It’s a chance for all of us to do something right!
Maria arrived at Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan, Borneo in 2008 with her male partner called Fahri. They were both originally from Sumatra and had spent some years in a rescue centre in Sulawesi. At Samboja they were kept in separate cages by fear of reproduction, so one of the first things I did when I arrived at Samboja in 2015 was to have Fahri undergo a vasectomy and put him back with Maria. I also had a new cage built for them.
Maria and Fahri were happy to be reunited and my next mission was to build a large forest enclosure for them. Unfortunately Fahri died in January 2017 of a kidney failure before the enclosure was finished. Poor Fahri never got a chance to play in the forest with his girlfriend Maria.
Maria and Fahri 2016
Finding a new friend for Maria proved to be very difficult. We tried with at least 10 different bears but it never worked out. Either Maria was afraid of them or they were afraid of her, until Roni came along. Roni arrived at Samboja Lestari in September 2019 from Nyaru Menteng, the other BOS refuge in Central Kalimantan. Roni is still a young male, perhaps 4 to 5 years old, but unlike most sun bear males he is very gentle with females. Perhaps this is why Maria likes him. In Nyaru Menteng, Roni used to share a cage with a female who just avoided him, but with Maria that is not the case anymore and they spend a lot of time playing together, as if catching up for lost time.
Maria and Roni now share a 0,6 hectare forest enclosure.
All is going well with the construction of the enclosures at the Borneo Orangutan Survival sanctuary in Samboja, East Kalimantan. We recently received 7 new bears from the other BOS sanctuary in Nyaru Menteng who will soon be going into the new forest enclosures. One of the bears is a 5 months old cub named Pampy.
Pampy, September 16th 2019
Pampy will not be going into an enclosure because the plan is to re-introduce her to the wild following the “walk-release” method. Two volunteers will act as “foster mothers” exploring the forest daily with Pampy who will naturally follow them as she would her real mother until she progressively grows independent and decides to lead her own life at about 2 years old.
Pampy, September 16th 2019
The first mother is already at Samboja walking Pampy daily from 7am to 5pm, but we are still looking for a second volunteer who can commit to spending the next 18 months with Pampy. We will also need to equip Pampy with a tracking device and transfer her to a release site in the heart of Borneo where the 2 volunteers will continue to accompany her to her freedom.
Pampy, not afraid of hights
Of course all this will require funds, which we don’t have right now. So please feel free to make a designated donation to Pampy and I will make sure the money actually goes to her.