Conservation and life in Borneo


Chance of showers

Mike loves the rain.

There’s a very good reason why this is called the rainny season. The photo above was taken on the way back from checking traps and changing bait along the Kinabatangan. The force with which the rain hits you as the boat motors along is hard to describe, it’s perhaps something like being sandblasted with industrial diamonds. The trick seems to be to get out early and complete the work as soon as possible, hopefully before the rain comes.


Beruang Madu

“Beruang Madu” is the Malay/Indonesian name for the sun bear, its literal translation is “honey bear” (Note that bear=beruang & honey=madu; the word order is different in Malay/Indonesian). Beruang Madu is also the title of a recent short Indonesian film about the sun bear. It has some really nice shots in it and is well owrth watching. My personal favourite is when the young bear drinks water from a pitcher plant. Enjoy.

Lights, camera traps, action.

This is now my fourth trip out to Borneo to assist in the conservation of sun bears. After arriving in Kota Kinabalu and sleeping off most of my jet-lag I made my way to the BSBCC, stopping off in Kundasang for a couple of days to take part in a lovely little fun run they call the Kinabalu Climbathon; you can see some video from the day below.

It was great to get back to the BSBCC and see all the changes made these last five months, these include new staff, vehicles and computers,so the BSBCC looks to be getting a lot of well-deserved support these days. But the best thing I heard was that 2 bears are to be released at the end of the year, thanks to help from the Danau Girang Field Centre and the Sabah Wildlife Department. I only wish that I could be arround at that time to participate.

I’ve noticed that only about half of the Malaysians I meet seem aware that there even is an animal called a sun bear. Fortunately, Wong has been given some great opportunities recently to spread the word of sun bears, including a TED Talk and a documentary on Malaysia’s Channel 3, attracting over 1.8 million viewers!

Mary’s Story with Wong at TEDxKL

A Trailer for the Malaysian TV programme.

I am currently assisting my friend Roshan at the Danau Girang Field Centre. Roshan is doing his Master’s and at the moment is trying to trap and satellite collar wild sun bears as part of his project to study how they use this fragmented landscape. Roshan is doing a great job of putting up with my endless questions. Good on ya, Rosho.

There’s much going on in the world of sun bear conservation at the moment and it’s very motivating to be here. My experiences over the coming weeks will hopefully give me further insight into what I can set out to achieve when I go to Kalimantan in February. I shall remain here for another fortnight before making my way home via the BSBCC for another quick visit.

Another Fine Mess I’ve Got Myself Into

Well, I couldn’t resist it.. I’ve entered the Kinabalu Climbathon. This is going to be a little challenging to say the least, but hopefully it will help raise some sponsorship to help fund sun bear research.

This is me doing some training in the mountainous jungles of Cannock Chase.

Heading Back

Since leaving Sabah in May I’ve been doing some teaching, both in Russia and the UK. As a result I am now able to dig myself out of the financial hole I got myself into last time and also to look to the future and buy a ticket back to do more work for sun bear conservation this autumn.

Roshan and I are also dedicated to the conservation of the “data deficient” Bornean forest swan ( Cygnus clentonii.

The main aim of my mission this time is to help my mate Roshan catch and collar a bunch of bears for his study in the kinabatangan area. This study, done as part of the Kinabatangan Carnivore Programme, is very important as it will help us understand how wild bears are behaving in areas which contain a mix of forest and (often controversial) oil palm plantation. With plantation eating away at the jungle more and more with each passing day, this study could make a big difference to sun bear conservation in the future.

Bearing Up with Being Back from Borneo


Back in my kampung and enjoying the neighbouring hutan.

Well, I’ve been back in England a week or so now and am already thinking about getting over to Borneo again. When I do go back I hope to help out with more research-based activities and am also considering applying my teaching skills with indigenous communities.

I’m off to Russia in a few weeks to try and earn some money teaching English. Until then I’m free to enjoy being in England for a while. After that I’ll be doing a hair tube survey to look for mustelids on my local AONB.


This is the hoof print of a red deer, the largest native terrestrial mammal here.


We also have roe deer such as these.


My dog, Willow, investigating a fox hole.

It’s nice to see the contrast in wildlife here, though I’m already missing the diversity of Borneo. It’s a shame I was not able to stay longer in Sabah, but I’ll be back there when I can to do more for the bears.



Police Interceptors

Trailer for Sepilok’s new police documentary series