Oct 10, 2011
WSPA partner Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) recently celebrated two important milestones in its work to protect bears – first, the rescue of two bear cubs and, second, receiving its 100,000th pledge against bear bile use.
As part of ENV’s campaign to protect bears, it recently rescued two bear cubs who were reported via ENV’s WSPA-funded Wildlife Crime Hotline. The newborn cubs, who were likely smuggled into Vietnam across the border from Laos, were confiscated in Son La on Oct. 6.
They will join other recently-rescued bears in being cared for at the Animals Asia Bear Sanctuary at Tam Dao.
Meanwhile, ENV held a celebration in Hanoi to commemorate an important milestone: 100,000 people – including members of the public, as well as numerous Vietnamese celebrities – have pledged to never use bear bile. The pledge campaign is part of a broader effort by ENV, the Vietnamese government and non-government partner organizations to end bear farming and trade in the country.
"One hundred thousand pledges not to use bear bile is a reflection of public attitudes," says Tran Viet Hung, Director of Operations at ENV. "But what is important, is that it is also an expression of public willingness to act on their beliefs and help protect bears. We are confident that, with growing public support and a sustained commitment by our government partners, we will prevail."
Bear bile continues to be used in some Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) to treat conditions such as reducing fever, protecting the liver and improving eyesight – despite there being more than 65 herbal alternatives available. The practice of extracting bear bile is widely believed to be threatening wild bear populations across Southeast Asia.
In 2005, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development committed to ending bear farming in Vietnam. Since that time, WSPA has been working in partnership with ENV to help support its public engagement campaign to end the demand for bear bile and close down the bear farming industry for good.
"Bear farm owners may not pay heed to the voices of animal welfare campaigners, but when 100,000 potential consumers speak out so publicly against their product, the rejection becomes impossible to ignore," says Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director, WSPA.
Hung noted that more and more people from various sectors of society – including young and old, farmers and businessmen – appear eager to see an end to bear farming. "It is time to end this. The public expects it as part of our growth and development as a modern nation."
Read more about the cruelty of bear farming >>