Bear bile farming surges in Lao PDR
The number of bears held in bear bile farms in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Lao has surged in recent years. In 2008 there were just 40 bears held captive but by 2012 the number had tripled to 122. With no breeding facilities at the farms the assumption is that the growth of bear bile farms is at the expense of wild bear who are captured to stock the farms….
The growth of bear bile farms in Lao PDR is recorded in a new study that has been published. The study was undertaken by independent researcher Emily Livingstone and Dr Chris Shepherd from TRAFFIC. The paper was published 29th October in conservation journal Oryx.
The bear bile industry is still in its infancy in Lao PDR with the first recorded bear bile farm opening in 2000. By 2011 there were 11 operating in the country. The growth of the industry is to meet an increasing market for bear bile but also for bear cubs.
The researchers concluded that because of the lack of breeding facilities and lack of paperwork associated with the bears to show legal sources the majority of the bears are being caught in the wild. This is illegal under Lao PDR law. However the recent surge in price of wild caught bear bile and increasing prices of bear cubs means the rewards outweigh the risk of being caught.
Image: Bile extraction taking place in a Laotian bear farm, via wildlifenews.co.uk