What position do you hold at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre? What has been your career path so far?
Wai Pak: I hold the position of Project Manager. After graduating with a degree in Forestry, I got a job offer to become the research assistant for the First Malaysian Sun Bear researcher Wong Siew Te. Wong then set up the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and I switched from being focused on the forest to looking after and rehabilitating rescued sun bears.
What do you most enjoy/find most fulfilling about hosting volunteers?
Wai Pak: Sharing my experiences on sun bears with volunteers from various countries is something I enjoy very much. I learn a lot from them and being exposed to different cultures and perspectives is very useful to me. A lot of the program alumni eventually become my good friends.
What is your favorite story of a volunteer's experience at the center?
Wai Pak: A few volunteers have revisited our center and spent more time with the staff, improving our English speaking skills, or helping us create websites, to create adoption packages, and even participated in going out to schools for demonstrations or talks. Some have even further studied and done research on the sun bear.
What has been your favorite experience as part of the team running the center so far?
Wai Pak: It is always very touching to see our rescued bears get out into the forest enclosure for the first time, after having spent years inside the small cages used by their ex owners. Trying different methods and approaches to rehabilitate different individual bears is always challenging for the BSBCC team but so rewarding.
What do you hope/foresee for the program ten years from now?
Wai Pak: I hope the program will be the leading model of its kind. All the volunteers that came and worked with us will have the feeling of ownership and accomplishment, as they have helped us to complete the mission of the center. Every volunteer will become a sun bear ambassador and promote sun bear conservation back in their homeland.