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Crackdown on illegal bear trade and horrific bear bile spectacle

By John Dean - 22 Mar 2011 10:59:0 GMT
Crackdown on illegal bear trade and horrific bear bile spectacle

Image credited to ENV.

Wildlife campaigners have welcomed a decision by the Vietnamese government to crack down on the illegal extraction of bear bile for tourists

The news comes after the World Society for the Protection of Animals' (WSPA) recently published a report highlighting the practice, which occurs because the bile has medicinal applications.

According to WSPA, about 3,000 bears - mostly stolen from the wild - are kept in illegal 'bear farms' in Vietnam. Kept in tiny cages, the bile is extracted from their gall bladders using a syringe then used in some traditional Asian medicine techniques including those aimed at reducing fever, protecting the liver and improving eyesight.

bear bile vietnam

Image Credit ENV.

Now, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Vietnam has sent a letter to tour companies warning them that they could lose their business licenses if they sell the product.

Dave Eastham, WSPA Captive Bears Campaign Leader, said: ''This is fantastic news and clearly demonstrates that the government of Vietnam sees the damage bear farming is causing their tourist industry. We urge the authorities to now step up their efforts to ensure an end to the farming of thousands of bears across the country for their bile.''

illegal bear bile extraction

Image Credit ENV.

WSPA has been joined in its campaign by Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) and its Vice-director Tran Viet Hung said: ''We welcome the stern words from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and expect to see prosecutions of the very visible perpetrators of this illegal industry.''

WSPA and ENV, together with Free the Bears and Animals Asia Foundation, jointly lobby as the Vietnam Bear Task Force against illegal bear bile tourism in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a member of the United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which controls the international trade in wild animals and plants so that it does not threaten their survival. Under the Vietnamese Government's Decree 32/2006, bears are listed as an endangered species and owning and selling bears, or their by-products, is illegal.