Viet­nam to res­cue 1,000 bears and end bile trade

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Viet­nam agreed yes­ter­day to res­cue more than 1,000 bears from il­le­gal farms across the coun­try, in a move to end the tra­di­tional medicine trade in the crea­tures’ bile. Though bile farms are al­ready out­lawed in Viet­nam, bears are still cap­tured and caged in il­licit fa­cil­i­ties where their bile is ex­tracted us­ing in­va­sive and painful tech­niques. Viet­nam’s Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Forestry (VNFOREST) and non-profit group An­i­mals Asia signed an agree­ment yes­ter­day to res­cue all re­main­ing bears from farms, com­mit­ting to end bile trade and close all fa­cil­i­ties within five years.

“This is a truly his­toric day,” An­i­mals Asia CEO Jill Robin­son at the sign­ing in Hanoi, adding that the de­ci­sion “will lead to the de­fin­i­tive end to bear bile farm­ing here in Viet­nam”.

Bear bile farm­ing has been out­lawed in Viet­nam since 1992. But many bile farms use a le­gal loop­hole al­low­ing them to raise the an­i­mals as pets. There are about 1,200 bears in cap­tiv­ity in Viet­nam to­day, down from more than 4,000 in 2005, caged in more than 400 bear farms across the coun­try. An­i­mals Asia es­ti­mates it will cost up to $20 mil­lion to res­cue and build enough sanc­tu­ar­ies to house the bears, and called on donors, com­pa­nies and the gov­ern­ment to pitch in.

“We can­not do this by our­selves, the gov­ern­ment needs to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wildlife in the coun­try,” said Tuan Bendixsen, Viet­nam di­rec­tor for An­i­mals Asia. Of­fi­cials said fund­ing is the main hur­dle to res­cu­ing the bears and putting an end to the trade. “We face dif­fi­cul­ties find­ing funds to pre­vent and stop the hunt­ing and res­cue of wild an­i­mals,” VNFOREST deputy di­rec­tor Cao Chi Cong said. Bendixsen warned that bile farms could move into neigh­bor­ing Laos or Cam­bo­dia, and urged coun­tries to ad­here to an in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion that bans cross-bor­der bear and bile trad­ing.

Yes­ter­day’s agree­ment fol­lows an an­nounce­ment in 2015 from Viet­nam’s Tra­di­tional Medicine As­so­ci­a­tion to re­move bear bile from its list of sanc­tioned pre­scrip­tions by 2020. The bears are of­ten kept in small cages, and their bile is ‘free dripped’ via a hole in the an­i­mal’s gall blad­der or a catheter. Many are starved, de­hy­drated, wounded and psy­cho­log­i­cally scarred when they are res­cued. Bear bile con­tains an acid which can help treat liver and gall blad­der ill­nesses, though ef­fec­tive herbal al­ter­na­tives are avail­able.—AFP


HANOI: Bears search for fruit and veg­eta­bles dur­ing feed­ing time at the Viet­nam Bear Res­cue Cen­tre near Tam Dao Na­tional Park in Vinh Phuc prov­ince, some 70 kms north of Hanoi.

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