Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has reported that there are 1,250 captive bears remaining on farms, a 72 percent decline since 2005.
It released the information at a celebration of “Bear Day” (May 7), which fell on the first anniversary of the successful shutdown of bear bile tourism in Ha Long Bay.
My Linh, Bear Ambassador of Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), said bears have suffered miserable lives in captivity, with many coming to farms as cubs and spending all their lives in cages.
“We have made great progress over 10 years but this effort is not over until there are no more bears exploited for bile on farms anywhere in this country.”
A new ENV study released at the celebration also indicated a substantial reduction in bear bile consumption.
In 2005 more than 4,300 bears had been kept on farms across the country and exploited for bile, used in traditional medicine to treat bruises and other ailments.
Virtually all of these bears had been illegally captured in the wild.
However, the same year the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development began measures to phase out bear farming beginning with the registration of all captive bears.
Since then, bile farming and trade has declined significantly as government agencies, local and international organizations, and the public have become actively involved in efforts to put an end to the horrific practice.
According to a 2014 survey of more than 3,000 residents across Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, bear bile consumption had dropped by approximately 61 percent compared to a survey in 2009.
Bear farms in Ha Long city that were operating illegally and selling bear bile to Korean and other tourists were shut down in May 2014 following a joint enforcement campaign by the authorities and ENV.
Volunteers from ENV’s 5,000-strong national wildlife protection network are hosting “End Bear Farming and Trade” events in 15 major cities to raise awareness and encourage people to join the fight to save Vietnam’s captive bears.