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Back in France

I’m back in France since April 15th. I’m here to make a 52 min version of my latest film on sun bears, to search for funds and to work to earn some money so that I can go back to Indonesia to continue helping the sun bears. During the 6 months that I just spent at BOS Samboja Lestari, I had new cages built and old ones renovated improving the welfare of 20 sun bears.

I’m happy to say that no more bears at Samboja Lestari are held in the small holding cages. They are now in cages from 4 to 25 m2 in size, with wooden platforms and hammocks. The last 3 sun bears to be transferred to new cages were Dawai, Kecil and Apang as you can see on the pictures. This improvement, although significant, is of course insufficient and the objective of allowing all the bears to have access to outdoor forest enclosures remains.

The next project of Sun Bear Outreach, in collaboration with BOS Foundation, will be to finish the construction of a 4,14 hectare forest enclosure next to where the bears are now (bottom right corner on the map). Five years ago, this area was fenced out for the making of a large sun bear enclosure, but the project was not completed. The budget needed for repairing and finishing the fence, for adding an electric fencing, for building 3 new holding cages and for making a training enclosure (in which the bears will become familiar with electric fencing) is about 70 000 USD. We, Sun Bear Outreach and BOS Foundation, hope to raise the funds over the summer so that I can go back to Samboja in September to see this project through.

Thank you for your support.

Two bears without names

I spent last week in Tarakan, a small town North-East of Kalimantan, to help improve the welfare of 2 bears held by the Ministry of Forestry. The two sweet females have been living together in a metal cage of 1,5m x 3m (and 1,8m high) for the last five years. The only item in the cage was a water basin that was chained up in a way that the bears could not bathe in it. A few boards served as a roof and all the bears’ litter and food waste just fell to the dirt ground below the cage. The partition wall and door within the cage was broken making it impossible to keep the bears on one side or the other.

The first thing I did was to have a temporary holding cage made in which we could place the bears while fixing and improving their main cage. With some of the staff from the Forest Department, we went to the local fire station to ask for some old fire hose with which we made a hammock. Wood that had been confiscated from illegal loggers served to make a sleeping platform. A welder fixed up the partition wall and partition door, making human access to either side of the cage now possible. We made a cement floor below the cage to be able to easily hose the litter away and we added a few sheets of corrugated iron on the boards that served as the roof.

The whole operation took 6 days and cost about 450 euros. The two bears are still in the same cage, but they now have a hammock, a wooden platform, a water basin that they can go into, a waterproof roof and a cleaner environment. In the hope that the staff follow my recommendations, the 2 bears will, from now on, also get a better diet and a regular supply of ferns and branches to play with.

Unfortunately, there is no sanctuary in Kalimantan that could receive these two sun bears, and they are so tamed that they would have no chance of survival were they set free in the forest. I would like to give them access to an outdoor enclosure with some trees, but I don’t have the possibility to do so right now. Sadly, these two sweet girls who have not even been given names, will have to continue living in their 4,5 square meters until a better solution for them can be found.

Thank you for your support.

6 new cages

During the month of February and the first week of March, we’ve dismantled 20 old small holding cages to reassemble them into 6 new larger enclosures. The new enclosures were then equipped with wooden platforms and hammocks, with partition doors between them, allowing the possibility of grouping the bears who get along.

The first bears to be transferred were Iis, Eric and Jay. They had all been kept in small holding cages and thus went from living in 1,25 square meters to 9 square meters. The effect on their wellbeing is very noticeable. Iis, the small female, is particularly happy and playful since the move. She is also intrigued with her new neighbour Eric. Since both Eric and Jay underwent a vasectomy when transferred, they will soon be able to be with Iis to play and mate. It’s still life in captivity for Iis, Eric and Jay, but it’s getting better. Thank you for your support.

UPDATE

It’s been fairly busy around the bears at Samboja over the last 2 weeks. As you can see on the pictures, Fahri and Maria are enjoying their new more spacious enclosure, a new enclosure was set up for Jono, the mesh flooring of 8 old enclosures was removed and replaced with a cement floor (much more appropriate for bears) and two new water basins were installed in two outdoor yards.

Little by little the general living conditions of the bears at Samboja is improving. There’s not a day that goes by without progress being made. We are now making 3 new enclosures for another 3 bears that are still kept in small holding cages. This means making a cement floor, a roof and setting up the enclosures. It’s quite a lot of work and money for every set of new enclosures, so your donation is more than ever welcomed. Thank you.

FOUR NEW CAGES

It’s been a while since my last update…. Sorry about that. The good news is that since I last wrote, four new cages have been installed, as you can see on the pictures.

Oscar, a friendly and energetic young male sun bear who was kept in a small holding cage, was the first to be transferred to one of the four new cages. Then next to him we put in Jono, a lively male who always wants to play. I thought Jono and Oscar would become fiends and play together when we open the partition door between the 2 cages, but I was wrong. Jono just wanted to fight with Oscar, he was so aggressive that after 24 hours we had put Jono back in his old cage. These cages are meant for pairs who get along well. We’ll have to find a new friend for Oscar and another solution for Jono.

One pair that gets along very well is Maria and Fahri. They arrived at Samboja in 2008 as a couple but were separated to avoid breeding. In November 2015 Fahri underwent a vasectomy and he is now reunited with his girl friend since Jan 11th. When they met again for the first time after 7 years of separation, they connected right away like old friends. They are now together again as a couple and will soon be transferred to two new cages that communicate through a partition door, while their old cages can be renovated and used for other bears.

JOJO AND FERI ENJOYING MORE SPACE

As you can see in the pictures, renovation of the 2 small outdoor enclosures is complete, and Jojo and Feri can now enjoy this new space. To this date, they were never allowed out into these enclosures because they could escape by climbing over the fence. Now however, they are allowed in, they can move around a bit, climb the wooden structures, enjoy the sun and the rain and sleep under the moon if they choose to. Jojo and Feri’s welfare has greatly improved now that they are no longer permanently inside their small dens.

Many other bears are impatient to see their wellbeing improve and we are thus in the process of making 4 new proper size cages. Thanks to all of you for your support and donations. It is thanks to your support that I can help improve the lives of the bears at Samboja.

ARKANA ENJOYING THE SUN AND THE BREEZE

November 17th was Arkana’s first day out in the renovated 5m x 5m outdoor enclosure. The first thing she did was to climb the wooden structure within the enclosure, sit in the sunlight and smell the breeze. She had a smile on her face. She was finally out of her damp dark walled in cage. It felt good to see Arkana at peace….

Renovation of the second 5m x 5m outdoor is almost finished, and more bears will soon be able to benefit from it. Thank you to all who have donated to make these repairs possible. Thank you to those who will donate. Thank you on behalf of the sun bears.

RENOVATING A SMALL OUTDOOR ENCLOSURE

Jojo, Arkana, Feri are kept in cages which give onto a 5m x 5m outdoor enclosure that they are not allowed into because they are able to climb over the fence and escape. The plan is thus to add a mesh roof to the enclosure and, at the same time, make the fence a little higher. In addition to this, a wooden playground with different enrichment items will be added, as well as a small “pool”.

Once renovated, the 3 bears Jojo, Arkana, Feri will be able to enjoy this new space. Without a doubt, it will be a major improvement to their wellbeing. As you can see on the pictures, renovation work has already begun. The total cost will be about $1300 USD. Any donation to help out is most welcomed. Thank you.

Small improvements

Since my post last week I’ve continued making small improvements to the cages of the sun bears at Samboja Lestari. Oscar, Dawai, Apang, Eric, Jay, Iis, Samsun and Banto have all gotten a small wooden platform to be able to sit and rest on, off the ground. Arkana and Feri each got a new hammock. And Petung, Maria and Fahri received long wooden platforms in their cages.

These little improvements add some comfort to the bears’ lives, but the main problem is that some of the cages are just too small. So my next move will be to make 6 bigger cages for the most needy bears, and to repair 2 existing small outdoor enclosures that measure 5m x 5m so that another 5 bears will be able to go out a little, walk,

stretch, bathe in a small pool and climb the wooden structure that we will build. This of course will have a cost and I’ll let you know how much next week… perhaps you might want to help cover that cost with a donation. Thanks (Patrick Rouxel)

Jojo – one of the sun bears at Samboja Lestari

I arrived at the BOS Samboja Lestari sanctuary in East Kalimantan (Borneo) Indonesia a few days ago. My mission here is to help BOS Foundation build new facilities for its 47 sun bears so that they may all live in decent captive conditions. As I assess the situation and make long-term plans, I also bring immediate care to the most needy bears. Jojo is one of them. In Jojo’s small cage, the only place off the ground is a metal platform where he sleeps, but the cage is so narrow that he can’t stretch out. So today I made a hammock out of old fire hose and the staff helped me put it up. It’s just a hammock, but for Jojo it’s a lot.