Jan 23

Patrick Rouxel is an environmental filmmaker and conservationist whose films include the multi award-winning Green and Alma. Patrick’s most recent film, Life Is One, was nominated for a 2016 Wildscreen Panda Award in the Creative Innovation category and has recently won the Best Wildlife Film Award at the New York Wild Film Festival.  It is the story of a return to life in the wild for three sun bear cubs in Indonesia. Patrick’s encounter with these three cubs has changed his life and he now focuses on improving the welfare of captive sun bears in Indonesia and raising awareness on their plight through his charity Sun Bear Outreach. This is his story.

Patrick Rouxel

I’ve been making films on conservation and animal welfare since 2014, specializing on the Indonesian rainforest, the Congo Basin and the Amazon. In my travels I would often come across animals kept in very bad conditions, I would usually film them and then move on. With the footage I helped raise awareness about animal suffering, but this did not change anything for those animals I had filmed. I had not altered their misery in any way.

In 2010, as I was making fundraising films for a small orangutan rescue centre based in Borneo, Indonesia, we received a small sun bear cub in a wooden box that villagers had brought in from their village. The mother bear must have been shot, but luckily the cub was brought to the rescue centre rather than sold as a pet to some private owner. She was a female that I named Bunbun and I took care of her for the several weeks. I grew very fond of her and I didn’t want her to spend the rest of her life in a cage, so this time, rather than move on, I decided to stay and give her back her freedom.

Sun bear in small cage

It took about nine months before I was actually able to bring Bunbun to the forest. The reintroduction took place in a national park with a remote camp serving as base. It was a progressive adaptation to life in the wild. I was going to stay in the forest with Bunbun until she grew fully independent. Every morning at dawn, I would let her out of her night cage and we would spend the whole day in the forest to play, explore and search for food. But she couldn’t find enough food to satisfy her appetite, and in the late afternoon, she would gladly go back to her night cage close to camp where food awaited her. She made no fuss at being locked in for the night as she knew that she would spend the whole next day in the forest again.

Bunbun

Unfortunately, after just 3 months in the forest, Bunbun disappeared, never to be seen again. She was not yet fully autonomous, so I fear for the worse. I then encountered another 2 sun bear cubs, Bernie and Wawang, in another rescue centre and decided to try another reintroduction with them. This time I had the cubs equipped with implant emitters to be able to track them down. All went very well at first and the cubs learnt a lot from one another, but after just 6 weeks, the male cub, Wawang, was killed in a fight with another wild bear. Luckily, Bernie had been spared. Wawang’s death was a blow but Bernie and I had no choice but to overcome his loss and pursued together her path to adulthood. We spent about a year together in the forest before Bernie was able to find enough food to sustain herself and gradually went off into the forest for longer and longer periods before not coming back to camp anymore.

Bernie and Wawang in the forest

From having spent so much time in the forest with the bears, I have learnt to appreciate how they belong to the tropical rainforest, how energetic and inquisitive they are and how they love to play. There was never a dull moment with the bears in the forest, they were active and on the move from dawn to dusk, and their favourite activity besides eating was playing. Besides a few dogs I know who are always happy, I had never seen an animal express so much joy at the simple fact of being alive. Through Bunbun, Bernie and Wawang, I discovered a magnificent expression of life on earth.

Bernie climbing a tree

There is something wrong about depriving any living creature of its freedom, but keeping a sun bear in a cage is something particularly cruel. I am sure that the degree of joy a sun bear feels when living a free life in the forest matches the extent of pain he feels when locked in a cage. Sun bears hate to be locked up, they’ll go crazy from not being able to express their energy. And in Indonesia there are many sun bears locked in cages. These bears have lost their mothers, their freedom and their habitat. They’ve been so deprived of everything that they wouldn’t even be able to survive in the wild if they were given the opportunity.

Bernie with her friend Bagor, a Bornean orangutan

Strangely, sun bears are mostly unheard of by the international public and there is not a single local or international organisation in Indonesia dedicated to rescuing sun bears and caring for them. So I founded my own charity called Sun Bear Outreach, and through this charity I raise funds that I use to improve the welfare of the bears I encounter, individual by individual. I go to the places where sun bears are kept in poor conditions and I construct bigger cages and large forest enclosures, so that the bears can at least feel the earth under their paws, dig, run and climb trees.

The Life is One film documents these early reintroductions and the trials and tribulations that Patrick endures to save these endangered bears.

Find out more about Patrick Rouxel and watch his films on his website.

Explore the Arkive sun bear species profile and learn more about these beautiful animals.

May 26

The Whitley Fund for Nature holds an annual ceremony where pioneering conservationists around the world are honoured with an award recognising their achievement and given £35,000 (US$50,350) to continue their projects. We were lucky enough to be invited along to the ceremony to meet the finalists and find out more about their work. Each day this week we will release an interview from each of the winners on the Arkive blog and our Youtube channel. ENJOY!

Hotlin Ompusunggu – Dentistry and reforestation: scaling up models to protect orangutans and improve health, Borneo

Hotlin’s amazing conservation project received Whitley funding in 2011, 2013, 2014 and again this year when her project was honoured with a Whitley Gold Award worth £50,000. Not your average conservation leader, Hotlin is a Doctor of Dental Surgery and cofounded Alam Sehat Lestari, a Borneo-based NGO. Hotlin’s organisation provide heavily discounted healthcare to communities that live in the vicinity of Gulung Palung National Park for those who do not partake in logging activities, or pledge to stop doing so. The organisation will also provide healthcare to those who cannot afford to pay with money, in return for participation in reforestation activities or alternative livelihood programmes. After the extreme success of Hotlin’s project, she is now hoping to replicate this environmental and humanitarian improvement technique to other areas of Borneo.

Find out more about Hotlin’s work on the Whitley Awards website

Discover more about Alam Sehat Lestari

May 8

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, May 1, 2015

Bat wings use sensory cells to change shape mid-flight

Bechsteins-bat

Bechstein’s bat

The hair on a bat’s wings has receptors that fire messages to the brain, which allow them to slow down quickly and make tight turns. In most mammals, pathway messages from the forelimbs travel to the neck, in bats however, messages travel to both the neck and the trunk.

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Article originally published on Saturday, May 2, 2015

Malnourished sea lion found hidden under car in San Francisco

Young-California-sea-lion

Young California sea lion

A sea lion pup was coaxed from its hiding spot through the efforts of police and animal rescue crews. Apparently this is the second time that this particular pup has been found wandering the streets. Diminishing food sources, appear to be one of the reasons that several pups have been found malnourished and sick.

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Article originally published on Sunday, May 3, 2015

Starfish suffer mysterious and gruesome demise along west coast

Crown-of-thorns-starfish-

Crown of thorns starfish

From southern Alaska down to Baja California, sea stars have been dying in droves. The cause seems to be a poorly understood wasting disease known as sea star associated densovirus.  Encouraging though, is the news that baby sea stars have been found along the coast in some of the affected areas.

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Article originally published on Monday, May 4, 2015

Wolves and coyotes feel sadness and grieve like humans

Eurasian-wolf-side-view

Eurasian wolf

Author Marc Bekhoff describes how a pack of wolves lost their spirit and playfulness after the loss of one of their female members. He also hypothesizes that similar to dogs, wolves and coyotes can experience physiological disorders.

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Adult-coyote

Adult coyote

Article originally published on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

30 illegal orangutan pets seized in West Kalimantan

juvenile-southern-bornean-orangutan-p-p-wurmbii-

Juvenile southern Bornean orangutan

Thirty orangutans being kept as pets have been seized and placed in a rehabilitation center. Orangutans usually live with their mother until the age of seven or eight. The orangutans are learning to fend for themselves so they can be released into the wild.

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 Article originally published on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New species of diving beetle found living in isolation in Africa

Great-diving-beetle-portrait

Great diving beetle

A scientist has discovered a new species of diving beetle on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. It has no direct relatives and has been placed in its own genus with its scientific name being Capelatus prykei. Its closest relatives are diving beetles found in the Mediterranean and New Guinea.

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Article originally published on Thursday, May 7, 2015

New species of marine worm discovered on the Antarctic Deception Island

Peacock-worm

Peacock worm

The new species (Parougia diapason) belongs to a group of marine worms that commonly occur in marine seabeds rich in organic matter. The species was found in the bones of a common minke whale.

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Dwarf-minke-whale-head-detail

Common minke whale

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Mar 20

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News

ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week.

Article originally published on Friday, Mar 13, 2015

New wormy amphibians discovered in Southeast Asia

Sagalla-caecilian-head-detail

Sagalla caecilian head detail

Three new caecilian species have been discovered in Vietnam and Cambodia. Southeast Asia currently hosts about 15% of all known caecilians.

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Article originally published on Saturday, Mar 14, 2015

Wildlife: Sandhill cranes migrating through Colorado

Greater-sandhill-crane-ssp-tabida-calling-in-flight

Sandhill crane calling in flight

As they make their way toward Canada about 25,000 sandhill cranes might pass through Colorado.  Cranes are among the oldest living species with fossil records going back 9 million years.

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Article originally published on Sunday, Mar 15, 2015

 Rehabbed bay area bobcat released back into the wild

Three-week-old-bobcat-kitten-vocalising

Three week old bobcat kitten vocalizing

Last fall a 3 pound juvenile bobcat was found seriously injured near Brentwood by a rancher. Last week the bobcat was released after being rehabilitated and her weight doubled to a healthy 6 pounds.

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Article originally published on Monday, Mar 16, 2015

 Switch off the lights for bats

Leislers-bat

Leisler’s bat

Bat activity is generally lower in street-lit areas as opposed to dark ones, a new study found. This overturns a previous assumption that street lights benefit bats because insects congregate around them.

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Article originally published on Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015

 ‘Basically they just fell out of the sky’: 2,000 snow geese found dead in Idaho

Snow-goose-on-tundra-with-chicks-

Snow goose on tundra with chicks

Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game announced on Monday that 2,000 snow geese were found dead and they suspect that avian cholera might be the cause. Officials disposed of the bodies to ensure that the disease does not spread to other bird species.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015

 Hear that? Orangutans use hands to amplify calls

juvenile-southern-bornean-orangutan-p-p-wurmbii-

Juvenile southern Bornean orangutan

When orangutans use alert calls to warn others about predators, they sometimes cup their hands around their muzzles to make their calls louder and deeper. Changing sounds by using a part of your body was formerly thought to be a behavior unique to humans.

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Article originally published on Thursday, Mar 19, 2015

Dottyback’s deadly colour trick revealed

Narrow-bordered-Bee-Hawk-moth-

Narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth

The dusky dottyback can change the color of its body to match the species of reef fish it is hunting. The art of mimicry is well known in the natural world with species using ruses to catch, mate or avoid others such as the narrow-bordered bee hawk-moth that resembles a bee.

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Female-common-carder-bumblebee-feeding-from-flower

Female common carder bumblebee feeding from flower

 

Enjoy your weekend!

William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

 


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