years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
Ministry of Defence asked to justify “defence significance” claims
According to a report in Vietnamese newspaper Người Lao Động (The Labourer), Vietnam’s Ministry of Defence has been asked to make clear why the land in Tam Dao National Park on which Animals Asia’s bear sanctuary is located has been declared to be of “national defence significance”.
The request came at a meeting convened by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on Friday 26 October, which was attended by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MONRE), representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the military commander of Vinh Phuc Province, where Tam Dao National Park is located.
On Friday 5 October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) informed Animals Asia that the Ministry of Defence has issued an order to evict the sanctuary operation and its 104 rescued bears.
Following the international outpouring of support that Animals Asia has received since the eviction order was issued, the potential negative impact on Vietnam’s reputation and international relations was also raised at the meeting.
It is believed that MARD will now wait for the MOD to report before passing on its recommendations to the Prime Minister for his decision.
Because of construction delays caused by this eviction challenge, 19 bears remain in dens with no access to outdoor enclosures as we are unable to complete additional, planned, bear houses.
Prior to the Ministry of Defence eviction order, construction of the centre had already been delayed by park director Do Dinh Tien from September 2011 - two days after his submission to MARD to approve the application for commercial development of the land from the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company - until the end of April 2012.
Mr Tien had also delayed construction by refusing to sign off on the 2012 construction workplan. His sign-off is required by government protocols in order for MARD to approve the construction, despite the plan being signed off in principle by both the prime minister and MARD in the original project document.
At the end April, Mr Tien was ordered by MARD to allow construction to resume and for land to be allocated to the sanctuary according to the original approved project document. However, following lobbying by Mr Tien, the Ministry of Defence issued an order on 9 July 2012, suspending construction on the second phase of the sanctuary.
At its current level of development, the sanctuary houses 85 bears in dens with access to enclosures while 19 remain in dens without enclosure access. Construction of additional bear houses with enclosures had not been completed when the suspension order was issued.
“The delays to construction caused by the park director’s refusal to sign off the 2012 workplan, and the suspension order, have had a major impact on our capacity to rescue and care for bears, with some now living in dens without access to outdoor enclosures. They are better off in dens at the sanctuary than on bile farms, but we long for them to be outside, as they were meant to be.”