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).
TRAFFIC report exposes bear bile trade in Asia Illegal trade continues unabated
Released on 11 May 2011, a recent report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, confirms that poaching and illegal trade of bears, driven largely by the demand for bile used in traditional medicine and folk remedies continues unabated, and on a large scale, across Asia.
The report, entitled “Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia”, shows that bile products were found for sale in Traditional Medicine outlets in all but one of the 13 countries/territories surveyed, with Macau being the only exception in China’s territory.
Products were most frequently found in mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam, where they were recorded in over half of all outlets surveyed. The most frequently encountered products were whole bear gall bladders and pills — found in half of the outlets surveyed.
TRAFFIC’s research suggests a complex and robust trade in bear products:
Several of the countries/territories surveyed were either producers or consumers of bear bile products, while in some cases they acted as both.
Mainland China was the most commonly reported place of origin for these products across the region.
In Myanmar, internationally-sourced gall bladders were reported to come solely from Lao
In Hong Kong, in cases where the source was known, products were reported to have originated in Japan
Over half of those products offered for sale in South Korea were from wild sources in Russia.
Domestic trade of bear bile is legal under strict regulation within mainland China and Japan but is illegal in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Regardless of the legality of trade within countries, international trade is not allowed.
Asiatic black bears (moon bears) and Sun bears are both used in the bile trade with moon bears being predominant. Both are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which prohibits international commercial trade in the species, its parts and derivatives.
An analysis of the origin of bear bile products found in these surveys makes it clear that import and export regulations are commonly flouted.
Animals Asia contributed information from our own research and helped to source funds to enable TRAFFIC to carry out its surveys and produce this updated report. Combined with our years of research, the report clearly supports our own findings that the bear bile industry continues to engage in illegal practices.