Sun bears are among the most endangered species of bear in the world. In the past 30 years, sun bear populations have declined by nearly 30 percent, largely as the result of the bear bile industry. Bear bile is considered a “cure-all” in traditional Asian medicine, and is procured by extracting the bile fluid from the liver of sun bears. Across Asia, these endangered bears are pulled from their natural habitats and forced into bear bile farms where they spend their lives in small cages, routinely suffering the pain of bile extraction. This is not a fate that would be wished on any living being.
In Vietnam, the bear bile industry is illegal. However, according to World Animal Protection, the tourism industry plays a role in perpetuating the cruel practice. In a press release, World Animal Protection announced that 80 bears are being held in the tourism hot spot, Ha Long Bay. However, there is good news for these bears!
Local authorities are working alongside the efforts of World Animal Protection and their Vietnam partner organization, Education for Nature Vietnam, to see that these sun bears are freed from these abusive circumstances.
ENV was able to compile solid evidence, over the course of a year, to prove that bear bile farming was occurring behind the closed doors of this local tourism hot spot. In response to this proof, a local task force, the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, has been established with the collaboration of authorities. The force includes ENV, the Forest Protection Department, the Environmental Police and the provincial government, and their goal is to prevent tourists from visiting bear bile facilities.
By deterring tourists from visiting bile farms and purchasing products, the task force can effectively end this cruel practice in Vietnam. Doing so would help to protect the endangered sun bear, as well as send the message that bear bile farming will no longer be accepted within the bounds of Vietnam.
Image source: Siew Te Wong/Wikimedia Commons