[wildtrade] Animals Asia calls for release of 24 bears held illegally on Vietnam bile farm
scpvet at gmail.com
Wed Oct 21 04:54:50 BST 2009
*19 October 2009*
*Animals Asia calls for release of 24 bears held illegally on Vietnam bile
Animals Asia Foundation and other international and local NGOs are calling
on the Vietnamese Government to confiscate 24 endangered moon bears (or
Asiatic black bears) involved in a recent police raid on a bear farm in the
popular tourist area of Ha Long Bay.
Tuan Bendixsen, Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director, said the raid on a bear
farm at Dai Yen just outside Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province on 2 October
– and the detention of seven people involved in the illegal operation – had
initially been encouraging as it implied the authorities might finally be
taking the issue of illegal bear bile farming seriously.
“But it’s now almost three weeks since the arrests and still no one has been
charged and nothing has been done to confiscate these bears. If the
Vietnamese Government is serious about ending bear bile farming in this
country, it must act immediately to ensure these 24 bears are confiscated
and transferred to us so our vets and expert bear managers can begin to
repair the damage inflicted by the ruthless farmers, who are openly flouting
the law,” Mr Bendixsen said.
The 2 October operation by Vietnam’s Environmental Police and the local Ha
Long Police caught employees of the Dai Yen farm extracting and selling bear
bile “red-handed” to Korean tourists. Five workers and two South Koreans,
who had been visiting the farm on an organised tour, were taken into custody
Bile extraction equipment and more than 200 vials containing freshly
extracted bear bile were confiscated in the raid. Of the 81 bears on the
farm, the 24 in question had no proof of origin and no microchips as
required by law.
The police raid came shortly after local journalists infiltrated and exposed
the farm, but Animals Asia founder and CEO Jill Robinson said the fact that
this and other farms in the area were keeping unregistered bears and
illegally extracting and selling bile had been known to the authorities for
a long time.
“For two years now, Animals Asia has been asking the government to act on
its promise to confiscate 80 bears (including the 24 illegal bears at Dai
Yen) from farms in Ha Long Bay and transfer them to our sanctuary, but so
far we have received just one bear,” Ms Robinson said. “We have gone ahead
with major construction work at our bear sanctuary based on the government’s
“In fact, the police raid comes near the end of our global letter-writing
campaign to convince the Vietnamese Government to rescue and relocate to the
foundation’s sanctuary the 79 bears still being held illegally on farms at
Ha Long Bay and previously promised to Animals Asia.” Ms Robinson said
Thousands of people around the globe have already sent in letters and these
will be delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office in early November. “The
time has come for the Vietnamese authorities to listen to the international
community and their country’s own people, because this terrible trade is
harming Vietnam’s image around the world,” Ms Robinson said.
It was Animals Asia investigators which, back in early 2007, first alerted
the authorities to the illegal activities at farms in the Ha Long Bay area.
Undercover film footage and photos that proved bile was still being
extracted from bears and sold to tourists was passed over to the government.
This prompted an earlier raid on farms in the area, with 80 bears being
identified as illegal (not microchipped, which meant they had probably been
poached from the wild.)
So far, just one bear has been handed over to Animals Asia’s sanctuary
because of bureaucratic red tape and lack of political will. In April 2008,
Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister – in direct contravention of Vietnamese law
– decided not to confiscate the remaining 79 bears.
Animals Asia and other non-governmental organisations – including the World
Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Education for Nature, Vietnam
(ENV) – have formed the Vietnam NGO Bear Taskforce, which continues to lobby
the government to overturn the prime Minister’s decision.
Bear farms in the Ha Long area are making enormous profits from the illegal
extraction and sale of bile, which is used in traditional medicine for a
range of ailments. According to the police report of the bust, each month
the farm receives 30 to 40 tour groups coming through and it is selling bear
bile at US$6 per 1ml. “That translates to big profits, so ultimately it is
greed we are dealing with here,” Mr Bendixsen said.
He said bear bile farming had been illegal in Vietnam since 1992, but around
4,000 bears remained trapped on farms. He said it was well known that bile
extraction continued and that bears were still being poached from the wild.
“Sadly a lack of resources has meant that in reality, enforcement of the
laws has been virtually non-existent.”
In November 2005, Animals Asia signed an agreement with the Vietnamese
government to rescue 200 bears and care for them at our Vietnam Moon Bear
Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park. To date, our sanctuary has taken in
30 bears confiscated by the government and currently has the capacity to
receive 100 more bears rescued from bear farms.
Bile extraction is extremely painful for the bears. In Vietnam, they are
drugged – usually with ketamine – restrained with ropes and have their
abdomens repeatedly jabbed with four-inch needles until the gall bladder is
found. The bile is then extracted with a pump.
*For more information, please contact Animals Asia’s:*
Founder and CEO Jill Robinson: Tel: + (852) 9095-8405;
jrobinson at animalsasia.org
Vietnam Director, Tuan Bendixsen: Tel: + (844) 39289264; Mob: +84
913-000-107; tbendixsen at animalsasia.org
Media Manager, Angela Leary: Tel: + (852) 2791 2225; Mob: + (852) 9042-7740;
aleary at animalsasia.org
*Download photos of Vietnam bear farming here:*
*For undercover footage of bear bile farming in Ha Long Bay, contact Animals
International Marketing and Fundraising Director, Juanita Tom: Tel + (84)
Email: leannevclark at gmail.com
Telephone: +61 406 703 061
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