The last two bear bile farms in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam’s popular tourism destination, have finally been closed down, a wildlife protection organization reported Monday.
According to Education for Nature - Vietnam (ENV), the two had continued to defy the law, selling bear bile to tourists though authorities have banned it and had shut down four local bear farms in 2013.
This year the provincial People’s Committee ordered the two to not to sell bile to tourists and set up a taskforce comprising officials from related departments and ENV volunteers to close them down.
It has taken the taskforce several months to achieve the task.
Since May no tourists have been observed at either of the farms, and the Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department said it plans to continue monitoring them to ensure bear bile tourism is not revived.
ENV deputy director Nguyen Phuong Dung said the campaign owed its success to the commitment of provincial authorities to address such a cruel and illegal business going on in the heart of Vietnam’s most prestigious tourist destination.
“This marks the beginning of the end for the bear bile tourism industry in Vietnam.
“The success of the campaign is a great example of how authorities, the media, the public, and civil society can get together and accomplish something great.”
The bear bile tourism industry in Ha Long Bay began around 2007 after six bear farms were established. They would receive bus-loads of tourists, mainly Korean, to witness the extraction of bile from a live bear before being encouraged to buy the bile and other bear products, all illegal.