Apr 1, 2011
Did you know that bear farms are not only used to painfully extract bear bile for use in Traditional Asian Medicine, but some are also tourist attractions? Companies organise tourist trips to bear farms so visitors can purchase products illegally, as well as witness the bears and the extraction process for themselves.
In Vietnam, the national government has recognised this cruelty and has ordered an end to the practice, threatening heavy penalties for offenders. In a communication sent out last week, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism spelled out that tour companies engaged in so-called bear bile tourism risk losing their business licences. The letter was sent out nationwide following our local member society, the Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV)’s expose last month of bear owners in the touristic province of Quang Ninh.
WSPA and ENV, together with NGOs Free the Bears and Animals Asia Foundation, jointly lobby as the Vietnam Bear Task Force to prevent illegal bear bile tourism in Vietnam. Outlawed bear bile is still widely available in the country, where approximately 3,000 bears, almost all stolen from the wild, continue to be kept under terrible conditions in bear farms, also prohibited by Vietnamese law since 2005.
Tran Viet Hung, ENV Vice Director from ENV said “Authorities have been aware of illegal bear bile tourism for a long time, but it has taken an article to be published and put into public view for them to take action. We welcome the stern words from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and expect to see prosecutions of the very visible perpetrators of this illegal industry.”
Vietnam’s most profitable tourist resort of Ha Long City in north-eastern Quang Ninh Province continues to be one of the most popular destinations for Korean tourists to witness extractions and purchase bile to illegally transport back to Korea. We hope this crackdown will signal an end to such businesses, contributing to the overall phase out of bear farming in the country.
Want to know more about bear farming? Click here.