Bear exploitation down sharply in Vietnam, government says

Bear exploitation down sharply in Vietnam, government says
7 May 2015

Bear exploitation down sharply in Vietnam - © Luong Thai Linh, EPA

Hanoi (dpa) - The number of bears on Vietnamese farms has declined sharply over the past 10 years, according to government figures, a drop that is attributed to law enforcement and awareness campaigns.

Just 1,245 bears were recorded in farms at the end of 2014, down 72 per cent from 4,349 in 2005, according to an internal government report sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in March and seen Thursday by dpa.

Bears have traditionally been kept in Vietnam to extract their bile, which is used to make folk medicines. The practice has been illegal in country since 2005. Demand, and the number of captive bears, rose after the ban, but then fell, said Vu Thi Quyen, director of Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), speaking at "Vietnam Bear Day" on Thursday in Hanoi. Activists have raised awareness of conditions on the bile farms and worked to debunk the claims of the medicinal value of bear parts.

Domestic consumption of bear bile fell around 61 per cent between 2009 and 2014, according to ENV, leading many farms to close. Officials implanted ID microchips in more than 4,000 bears legally kept as pets or in zoos, but have only slowly clamped down on the remaining farms. Bile farms keep their bears in "shocking" conditions, said Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director of Animals Asia. The animals are often emaciated, injured and even missing limbs, the group said.

Source: dpa.