Hanoi last in the race to end bear bile farming in Vietnam: Urgent and decisive action needed
A coalition of organisations including World Animal Protection, Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) and Four Paws, called upon the Hanoi People’s Committee (PC) to take decisive action to end bear bile farming in Vietnam's capital during a media briefing held today.
Seventeen years have passed since the Vietnamese government initiated a program aimed at phasing out bear bile farming in Vietnam. In 2005, more than 4,300 captive bears were registered and microchipped as part of an effort to prevent new bears from entering farms. Law enforcement authorities in many provinces have been working hard to end bear bile farming in their province, and so far, 40 have become bear farm-free, and only 294 bile bears remain on farms across the country.
While most of the country has made great progress in ending the cruel practice of bear bile farming, sadly Hanoi is trailing behind. Hanoi remains the biggest bear bile farming hotspot, accounting for 149 bears, or 51% of captive bears in Vietnam.
Bui Thi Ha, Vice Director at ENV said:
“As our capital city, Hanoi should be a leading example in efforts to end bear bile farming in Vietnam for other provinces to follow. Unfortunately, Hanoi trails in last place in this national effort. It is time for Hanoi to shut down bear bile farms and rid our capital city of this cruel and illegal business.”
Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Campaign - Wildlife at World Animal Protection said:
“Since 2005, World Animal Protection has been working closely with the Vietnamese government, authorities, and the Vietnam Bear Coalition to ensure an end to the bear bile farming industry in Vietnam. In that time, we’ve seen great strides being made by numerous provinces, but Hanoi consistently lags in its efforts to follow suit. Ultimately, ending bear bile farming in Hanoi is essential to ending bear farming in Vietnam.”
In January 2022, the Hanoi PC issued an instruction that highlighted the necessity for all districts and towns in Hanoi to strictly follow all wildlife management regulations and ramp up monitoring efforts and protect wildlife. The instruction requires authorities in Phuc Tho – Hanoi’s hotspot district for bear bile farming, keeping 139 bears that account for 93% of all the bears in Hanoi – to increase monitoring at these facilities. This instruction showed that Hanoi authorities are determined and are taking a stronger stance to help address the long-standing bear bile farming issue. However, this instruction alone – without commitment from Phuc Tho district People’s Committee and a clear plan to end bear farming in their district – is not enough, as evidenced by the fact that up until now, the bear bile industry in Phuc Tho has continued unabated.
During the briefing, the Vietnam Bear Coalition, comprised of Education for Nature - Vietnam (ENV), FOUR PAWS, and World Animal Protection, also proposed actions that the Hanoi government can take to ensure that bear bile farming in Hanoi comes to an end, including:
- Strengthening bear bile farm monitoring and inspections
- Taking immediate and decisive action if violations or illegal bears are found on bear farms by confiscating bears
- Ensuring strict prosecution and punishment for serious violations
- Enacting a breeding ban on private bear farms
- Convincing bear bile business owners to voluntarily transfer their bears to authorities without compensation
- Promoting herbal and other humane alternatives to bear bile
Multiple bear sanctuaries, including FOUR PAWS’ international gold-standard BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, have been set up to accommodate farmed bears, providing them with a species-specific and semi-natural environment to live out the remainder of their lives.
Ioana Dungler, Director Wild Animal Department at FOUR PAWS International said:
“In their new home in BEAR SANCTUARY Ninh Binh, the rescued bears can now follow their natural instincts. After a life in horrible captive conditions, they rediscover a species-appropriate life, and that’s what we can provide the captive bile bears of Hanoi. We look forward to the day when Hanoi can be declared the next bear farm-free province in Vietnam.”
With support and decisive action by the Hanoi PC and Phuc Tho PC, a bear farm-free future could be achieved in Hanoi in only a few years.
The Vietnam Bear Coalition is grateful to the government and law enforcement agencies, other NGOs and their international-standard rescue centers, and members of the public who have shown their dedication in the fight to end bear bile farming. In particular, they would like to thank the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi for their generous contributions to today’s briefing event.