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Sun Bear Volunteer Conservation in Borneo

Volunteer with sunbears in a sunbear conservation & rehabilitation centre in Borneo

Sun Bear Volunteer Conservation in Borneo at BSBCC.

Volunteer at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) near Sepilok, Borneo and contribute to conservation efforts with the world’s smallest species of bear. Characterised by their beautiful white or golden bibs, sun bears are endemic to the rainforests of South East Asia. Precise populations are unknown, but with the increasing threat of habitat loss, poachers, agriculture and the illegal pet trade, sun bears are considered a vulnerable species. At the BSBCC, captured bears are cared for, rehabilitated and returned to their rightful home in the wild. As a volunteer, you can help to make this happen.

The BSBCC welcomes volunteers from across the globe to help with this important project. You will discover plenty about these delightful bears, working closely with dedicated biologists and researchers and learning how wildlife conservation is carried out on site. You will play a rewarding role in habitat maintenance and animal care, working closely with the bears and observing their behaviour. You will also contribute to vital enrichment programmes that improve the health and happiness of the bears as well as encouraging their successful rehabilitation.

The BSBCC are committed to raising public awareness in order to ensure the sun bears’ future survival. As a volunteer you will have the chance to share your passion for animals as you help to educate both tourists and local people.

This project is perfect if you are interested in learning about animal care and conservation, or if you are simply eager to find a meaningful way to contribute and engage whilst travelling. This truly is an experience not to be missed.

If you don’t have the opportunity to volunteer but had always wanted to do something for a good cause, why not fundraise for these projects! Visit our Fundraising page for more info or write to us here

What Daniel Says


“I don’t know another person in the world more dedicated to conservation than Wong. When I first met him I was just amazed by his story and love for the Sun Bears. I am sure you will feel the same too. It is quite amazing but not many of the city based Malaysians actually know they have bears living in their rainforests. This newly opened centre aims to educate not only foreigners but also locals about the smallest bears in the world. When I go trekking in the rainforest I quite often see Sun Bear claw marks and their resemblance to the slash marks of X-Man character Wolverine. They are fascinating creatures and ones that everybody falls in love with. The centre is growing fast and was only opened to the public in January 2014. As a Bologist, I can safely say you will not learn from better people than Wong and his team, if you want to learn about conservation then this project is a must.”

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  • 2 weeks MYR 5747
    4 weeks MYR 9210

    MYR – Ringgit Malaysia

    Includes :
    Conservation contribution to the project;
    English-speaking programme facilitator;
    13 nights at designated accommodation;
    Meal allowance & selected meals for all Project Days as indicated on itinerary;
    All activities, materials, tools and equipment included in “Project Days”;
    Meet and greet at Sandakan Airport (SDK), Malaysia;
    Arrival transfer from Sandakan Airport to project accommodation. Meet & greet and arrival transfers will only take effect if correct flight details have been confirmed received one month prior to your arrival. Please ensure that we have
    received your latest and correct flight details to avoid disappointment. Do check your arrival airport;
    Welcome dinner on arrival day in Sepilok;
    Induction and orientation at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre;
    Transfer from project site to Sandakan Airport for departure flight.

    Not included:
    International and internal airfare, camera fees, visa application/fees, drinks, private transfers, meals and accommodation when travelling independently or on Off Days, insurance, personal incidentals and any item not stated in the list above.

    Bookings

    For initial inquiries, please tell us about yourself and the project that you would like to join: Contact us here
    Applicants will be interviewed via Skype by our partner organization in Borneo.

    Successful applicants will need to make their deposit payment no later than 2 weeks from the date their application is accepted. If the deposit is not received within 2 weeks your application will be cancelled automatically. Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account. Once a deposit has been paid we will email you our Know Before You Go guide, which is full of useful information that will help you to prepare for your volunteering adventure.

    Cancellation Policy
    a. Cancellation of reservation must be made in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. If the company receives notice to cancel 30 days or more before the date of departure, a minimum administrative fee of RM100.00 or 10% of the tour deposit (whichever is lower) per person will be levied.
    b. If notice of the cancellation is received 29 days or less before the date of departure the following charges will apply:
    c. 15 – 29 working days before the date of departure = 50% of deposit
    8 – 14 working days before the date of departure = 20% of FULL COST
    3 – 7 working days before the date of departure = 40% of FULL COST
    2 working days or less before the date of departure = 100% of FULL COST

  • Arrivals dates are every 5th of the month. Program ends 14 days (2 week program) or 28 days later (4 week program).

  • Husbandry: This involves cleaning cages and feeding. You will rotate working with different sun bears depending on the needs of the bears, keepers or the centre. Cleaning is vital to BSBCC as better hygiene helps to prevent disease. You must be capable of cleaning up animal faeces – this can be extremely smelly!!

    Some daily maintenance work such as conduct daily checks on the facilities and general maintenance (electric fence voltage, weeding to avoid short circuit, painting etc) may be included.

    Enrichment: The idea of enrichment is to stimulate the animals and improve their living conditions as much as possible to mimic their natural habitat. Some sample activities are:
    – Provide leaves in cages for bedding and nesting purposes
    – Buy special fruit to give a variation on diet
    – Put branches from fig or fruit trees in their homes to observe behaviour
    – Rope work – make this fun and varied for the animal
    – Hiding food around cages to encourage foraging behavior
    – Trek into the jungle in search of termite nests

    Volunteers will be involved in designing & preparing enrichment. The effectiveness of the enrichment items on the sun bear behavior will then be observed. You always have to clean up after enrichment activities.

    Construction: You may be asked to design and work on small construction projects to improve the night dens or enclosures. This may include assisting in building new exhibits and extensions to improve the facilities, or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture or painting.

    Education: There is an education centre and library at BSBCC. Volunteers should learn as much as possible about the sun bears. You may be asked to talk to school children and visitors at the visitor centre about sun bears. You may also be asked to prepare displays and information on them. Volunteers will be in charge of updating the blog and data entry of the Bear Behaviour Record and the Weekly Record.

    Note: Not all of the above activities would be included on your itinerary. Changes to the activities will occur subject to weather conditions, school calendar, community and project requirements. Activities not listed above may also be included.

  • 2 week program
    Day 1

    ARRIVAL & WELCOME
    Sandakan Airport (SDK) Please ensure you have provided us with the correct flight details.
    Meet at airport for transfer to twin share accommodation.
    1800 hours – Welcome dinner and briefing.

    Day 2 ORIENTATION
    In the morning, meet for breakfast and you will go into town for shopping. After lunch, transfer to BSBCC where your programme facilitator will take you on a short orientation. You will be given a thorough health and safety talk, a tour of the centre and then will start work.

    Day 3 – 13 PROJECT DAYS
    Working hours at BSBCC: 0800 hours – 1700 hours

    Weekends / Days off: Usually, weekends are given as off days but subject to change according to programme requirement. A total of 2 off days will be allocated throughout the programme which may be combined subject to discussion with your programme facilitator. You may choose to explore other parts of Sandakan at your own expense or stay at the volunteer accommodation

    Day 14 (B) DEPARTURE
    Check out and transfer to Sandakan Airport.
    Optional: independent travel to Kota Kinabalu or Turtle Islands

    4 week program
    Day 1 ARRIVAL & WELCOME

    Sandakan Airport (SDK) Please ensure you have provided us with the correct flight details.
    Meet at airport for transfer to twin share accommodation.
    1800 hours – Welcome dinner and briefing. Please check with receptionist to confirm meeting time.

    Day 2 ORIENTATION
    In the morning, meet for breakfast and you will go into town for shopping. After lunch, transfer to BSBCC where your programme facilitator will take you on a short orientation. You will be given a thorough health and safety talk, a tour of the centre and then will start work.

    Day 3 – 27 PROJECT DAYS
    Working hours at BSBCC: 0800 hours – 1700 hours

    Weekends / Days off: Usually, weekends are given as off days but subject to change according to programme requirement. A total of 6 off days will be allocated throughout the programme which may be combined subject to discussion with your programme facilitator. You may choose to explore other parts of Sandakan at your own expense or stay at the volunteer accommodation

    Day 28 DEPARTURE
    Check out and transfer to Sandakan Airport.
    Optional: independent travel to Kota Kinabalu or Turtle Islands

    Note: Changes to the activities will occur subject to weather conditions, school calendar, community and project requirements. Some or all of the activities mentioned may or may not be included on your itinerary. Other activities not mentioned above may also be included on your itinerary subject to weather conditions, community and project requirements

  • Comfortable and basic accommodation. Twin-share room with bunk bed and shared toilets and bathrooms. There is a common sitting area too. There is a equipped kitchen with a few basic items including fridge and gas stove where you may prepare your meals.
  • What are the requirements to join this volunteering project?
    Volunteers will need to be able to speak English to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Minimum age requirement is 18 years old.

    How do I get to the project site?
    From your country of origin, take a flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and another flight to Sandakan airport. Volunteers will be picked from the airport.

    What vaccinations are needed for this programme?
    It is compulsory for all volunteers to have medical evidence (signed letter or proof of vaccination) of the following vaccinations in the last 10 years: Tuberculosis (TB) via X-ray test, Hepatitis A & B

    Do I need to apply for visa to join?
    Tourist from the following countries will receive a 90 day free tourist visa upon arrival:

    Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kirgystan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lienchestien, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen.

    Is this programme suitable for family with children
    No this programme is not suitable for family.

  • To make an enquiry or to book, kindly email us using our Contact Us form.

Testimonials

“I spent two months volunteering with the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. It was an incredible experience which I enjoyed every moment of. The staff were so welcoming and helped out with any problems or questions I had. The volunteer work consisted of helping the bear keepers to prepare food, clean cages and create a variety of enrichment for the bears. I came to realise very quickly how amazing and beautiful these creatures are and why everyone at the centre is so passionate and dedicated to saving this species. Each bear was different, all having individual personalities. I fell in love with them all!

A lot of the bears are very nervous about leaving the safety of their cages and heading out into the forest enclosures. Whilst working there I got to witness the release of two bears into one of the enclosures which was incredible! I look forward to hearing about more successful releases in the future.

I think what impressed me the most was the dedication of the staff and the hard work they have put it. Siew Te Wong has devoted his life to these animals and the future appears to look extremely bright for this organisation. I look forward to visiting the centre again once it is complete.

Volunteering for Ecoteer was extremely rewarding! I highly recommend the programme.”

Annie, August 2013

“It was a great privilege to work as a volunteer for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) at Sepilok for four weeks. My first day commenced with an induction by the Sun Bear keepers. I was introduced to all Sun Bears, safety procedures were explained and the keepers demonstrated how to perform the work required. I assisted the keepers by preparing food, cleaning pens and making enrichment for the bears. The keepers were a pleasure to work with and my enrichment ideas were welcomed. The bear house is well designed and easy to work in. The neighbouring outdoor enclosure is a large primary forest area with many tall trees and plenty of shade. This area allows the bears to exhibit natural bear behaviour e.g. climbing trees, digging, breaking apart rotten logs searching for insects. As a volunteer you really get to know and recognise the bears individually. They all have different pale orange-yellow markings on their chest and all have their own personality. I particularly enjoyed observing the bears in their forest enclosure and during their enrichment activities.

While working as a volunteer I observed first hand the hard work, long hours and dedication of Siew Te Wongand Wai Pak. They are great ambassadors for the Sun Bear. They are extremely committed to helping the Sun Bear. I feel extremely privileged to have worked with such dedicated people and remarkable animals. I will miss the people and the bears but look forward to coming back and seeing how the bears have developed and progressed to their final destination, their true home, THE FOREST.”

Marianne, June 2013

“It is hard work in the hot humid jungle environment, but i love hard work, so it was perfect. You get to see & know so much about the bears everyday. We saw all kinds of other animals in the rainforest there too, orangutans, red leaf monkeys, macaques, snake, hornbills & countless other birds. You can learn so much about the precious eco system of the rainforest, both flora & fauna, from the centre’s founder wong. You also learn lots about conservation & other wildlife issues from all the other people there. It is an experience I will never forget & will cherish till the day I die. & also a really important cause to support.”

Ronan, June 2013

“Due to the limited time, my experience was about 2 weeks only, it was too short but still see, feel, and learn a lot. Wong, Waipak, and the keepers taught me many things while we were working or resting. They taught me mot only about the species, but also the rainforest ecology, the policy, management, difficulties and so on. Besides, Wong introduce many other people who were also working or volunteering in Sepilok.

The works do make you sweat a lot, and the insects were like everywhere while your are working… But every minute at the centre was worth!! It might be the only (few) places that you have the chance to taking care sun bears with many enthusiastic people, and also really gain some knowledge from the working.”

Mia, June 2013

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