Arrests made as farm is caught “red-handed” extracting bile
On 2 October 2009, Vietnam’s Environmental Police and the local Ha Long Police caught employees of the Dai Yen farm extracting and selling bear bile to Korean tourists. Five workers and two South Koreans, who had been visiting the farm on an organised tour, were taken into custody for questioning.
This action by the Vietnamese authorities comes hot on the heels of an undercover investigation by two local Vietnamese journalists that included the same farm in September 2009. Among their revelations, is the fact that this one farm caters for 30 – 40 busloads of tourists every month! Each visit entails a bear being drugged, dragged out for display and viciously drained of its bile as part of the farm ‘tour’. Click here to read their damning exposé.
In February 2009, we acquired photos secretly taken by a Taiwanese visitor to the farm, clearly showing bile extraction from a drugged bear, which we passed on to the authorities. See the disturbing photos here.
During this recent raid, not only did officials uncover bile being extracted on Dai Yen farm, but they also found bile extraction equipment and more than 200 vials containing freshly extracted bear bile. With fresh bear bile selling for USD6.00 per mil, this is a lucrative, high-end business directed at big-spending overseas tourists.
More importantly, of the 81 bears incarcerated on this farm, 24 were found to be un-microchipped and with no proof of origin. Along with other farms in the area, this particular farm in included in Animals Asia’s ongoing efforts to have 79 illegally held bears – including these 24 – released to the Moon Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park, as previously agreed by the Vietnamese government and in accordance with the Vietnam law.
The police raid comes near the end of our global letter-writing campaign to convince the Vietnamese Government to honor its commitment, with thousands of people around the globe sending in letters to be delivered to the Vietnam Prime Minister’s Office in early November.
Animals Asia and other non-governmental organisations – including the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and Education for Nature, Vietnam (ENV) – have formed the Vietnam NGO Bear Taskforce, which continues to lobby the government to overturn the Deputy Prime Minister’s decision in 2008 not to confiscate the 79 bears, in direct contravention of Vietnam’s own laws.
Given this latest turn of events, we are now lobbying the government even more intensely, as it is clear from this raid that what is common knowledge in the local area and among animal welfare organisations – that bile extraction continues illegally on these farms, that bears are still being traded and sourced from illegal sources, and that bile is being sold for transport overseas – is without doubt a reality.
Ha Long Bay is considered a World Heritage Site and as part of our strategy, we have written directly to the director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in France, detailing this terrible industry clearly and appealing for their help to influence local authorities to stop these farms from operating.
We have also written directly to the Chairman of the Quang Ninh People's Committee, congratulating him on the police raid, and appealing for his co-operation in putting an end to the bear bile industry for good in his locality.
Finally, we have written to the Ha Long Bay Management Department, seeking their support in the confiscation of these 24 bears.
While we are encouraged by this police raid and the direct action taken by Vietnam’s Environmental Police in co-operation with local police and officials, our Vietnam Director, Tuan Bendixsen has the final word: “It’s now almost three weeks since the arrests and still no one has been charged and nothing has been done to confiscate these bears. If the Vietnamese Government is serious about ending bear bile farming in this country, it must act immediately to ensure these 24 bears are confiscated and transferred to us so our vets and expert bear managers can begin to repair the damage inflicted by the ruthless farmers, who are openly flouting the law.”