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Vietnam visitors reminded that bear bile is illegal

12 August 2013

Visitors to Vietnam have been given a stark reminder from Animals Asia that “bear bile tourism” will not be tolerated.

It’s part of a huge awareness-raising programme aimed at the tourism sector and sees Animals Asia staff teaming up with local authorities in Quang Ninh province to reinforce the message. Tourists and tourism workers have been told that violations of bear protection laws mean fines of over 20,000 USD or up to seven years in prison. 

The message has been hammered home with over 100 banners on the streets of Ha Long City outlining the severity of the crime, while Animals Asia also hosted a workshop to further spread the message within the tourism sector. 

In the first week of August alone, over 10,000 leaflets were handed out to domestic and international tourists as well as hotel owners and locals in bear bile hot spots Ha Long City and Mong Cai. Forest Rangers armed with the leaflets will continue to be a conspicuous presence at places frequented by tourists. 

Alongside the Animals Asia team, celebrity Hoang Anh (pictured top right), best known for her runner-up spot in the immensely popular Miss Vietnam 2012 competition, was on hand to help leaflet tourists. Her involvement also guaranteed the message spread far beyond the province with reminders broadcast on state TV of the illegality of bear bile. 

For a significant number of the two millions visitors to Ha Long City each year, the chance to use bear bile is as much a draw as adjacent beauty spot Ha Long Bay. Meanwhile Mong Cai’s location on the Chinese border means it continues to be in the spotlight for wildlife trafficking.

Vietnamese celebrity Hoang Anh joins the campaign

The leaflets include information in Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and English. 

It’s believed there are 27 bear farms with nearly 250 bears, mostly moon bears, in Quang Ninh. These continue to avoid prosecution by exploiting legal loopholes such as claiming bears are pets. It’s widely accepted that moon bears in the wild in Vietnam now number only a few hundred. Animals Asia cares for over a hundred bears rescued from bile farms at its sanctuary in nearby Tam Dao.

Animals Asia Vietnam Country Director Tuan Bendixsen said: 

“The message is clear, Ha Long City is saying no to bear bile and whatever tourists imagined they knew about the availability of bear bile in Vietnam the truth is it is illegal and those laws are liable to be enforced. Visitors planning to use bile during their holiday in Vietnam could face the long arm of the law. It’s just not worth it and we aim to make sure visitors come to that conclusion.” 

The work was made possible thanks to the support of Quang Ninh Forest Protection Department, Ha Long City government, Bai Chay district and Bai Chay wharf staff.

Forest Rangers and touristsFront-line Animals Asia staff leaflet visitors