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The Vietnamese Government committed to phase out bear farming across the country back in 2005, and since then, we’ve seen some great results. After eight years’ continued efforts, the number of bears in captivity has more than halved, from 4,500 in 2005 to around 2,000 today.
Together with government authorities, ENV carries out a range of activities targeted at ending bear farming in Vietnam. Our Wildlife Crime Unit regularly monitors and surveys bear farms and tracks cases involving bears and bear products. We also work to build support amongst key government decision-makers to strengthen policy and legislation to protect Vietnam’s bears and ensure existing laws are enforced. Just as importantly, we carry out regular public awareness campaigns to reduce the consumption of bear bile and bear products through Public Service Announcement videos that feature prominent Vietnamese leaders and celebrities and air on national and provincial TV and radio stations.
Since 2010 we have also focused directly on bear farmers through monthly phone calls and letters to persistently remind bear farmers that it is illegal to extract bear bile and keep unregistered bears. In bear “hotspot” regions, we hold bear market exhibits, school events and public address announcements. We also target other key members of the community by visiting and speaking with the neighbors of bear farmers and encouraging pressure from commune-level government.
Through these varied efforts, we believe we’ve made a substantial impact on the attitude of Vietnamese people towards bear protection – thousands of ordinary Vietnamese citizens have signed pledges not to use bear bile. In a hotspot district with nearly 60 bear farms, 93 per cent of 2,000 interviewed students agreed that bear farming in Vietnam must be ended urgently.