Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Sun bears

I don't know if you saw it: a week or so ago, this terrible video came out - mobile phone footage taken of some sad, furless, skinny-looking creature on the edge of a palm plantation in Borneo.  Initially nobody knew what it was, but when the video was released, it was identified as a sun bear.

I'm not going to show the video (you can see if you Google 'sun bear alien') but I did find it quite upsetting, and it made me go looking for more information about sun bears.  They are the smallest variety of bear, found in the rainforest of south-east Asia, omnivorous but living mostly on a diet of insects and fruit.  They are tree-climbers ('arboreal' is the word), with much shorter fur than other bears and very, very long tongues - presumably ideal for insect-eating.

They are endangered - being threatened by deforestation (to make way for palm oil plantations), poaching for their body parts, and the pet trade - but it seems that they were only relatively recently listed as such; before that there simply wasn't enough known about sun bears.  Even the most basic details seem only to have been established within the  last 20 years.

Anyway, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre was founded by Siew Te Wong in 2008, to rescue sun bears being kept in captivity.  They have a lovely website, but be warned, there are a few distressing poaching pictures.

It's given me a kick towards trying to cut palm oil out my life.  Naturally it's in all the stuff I like to eat - crisps of most varieties, it seems, and McVities biscuits.  (Those are the two things I love to eat.)  Also, I would like to do something to raise money for the sun bear centre.  Perhaps I could make sun bears and give the money to them?  Or maybe sell the pattern.

I have collected a few Youtube videos - nice ones - to show you how gorgeous these bears are.  This first one is a bear-filled interview with Siew Te Wong...

This one is again from the Bornean Sun Bear Centre.  You might have to turn the volume up if you want to hear what he's saying.  It about the first meeting of two rescued bear cubs.  Stick with it.  After the first talkative section, they show you day 2 - still wrestling - and they look like two clumsy little fat ninjas, all dressed in black!

Again from the sun bear centre - and how to get into a coconut.

The last video is from the Animals Asia rescue centre in Vietnam.  They seem to have mostly moon bears, but also the occasional brown bear, or sun bear like Layla.

No comments: