Home > Conservation of bears in SE Asia

The use of bear gall (bear bile) by Asians has increased over the last few years. It is cheap and readily available because of the many bear farms in various countries in Asia (China, South Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar). However, due to this increase in use there is also a growing number of consumers who only want to buy bear gall obtained from wild bears. This has most probably led to a high increase in the number of illegally poached bears in the wild. Bears in Mind supports the IUCN experts in their endeavours to find a solution to this problem together with the Chinese government.

More about the bear bile trade and the role of the IUCN
A strong growth in demand for bear gall – which is used in traditional medicine, as well as in a number of other products, such as wine, tea and shampoo – is putting more and more pressure on the (endangered) wild bear populations in China and in south east Asia.  But there is hope! Considerable progress has been made since the IUCN WCC adopted a recommendation on bear farming in Asia in September 2012; and the Chinese government has showed their willingness to cooperate with a situation analysis studying the impact on bears living in the wild.

Research carried out in cooperation with Chinese experts and the Chinese government will have to ascertain if keeping bears on farms for their gall bladders is really a threat to the wild bear population. Bears in Mind is actively involved in the research into the breeding of bears at gall bear farms, led by the IUCN Bear Specialist Group (BSG). Moreover, artificial alternatives for bear gall are being investigated and a better system to monitor wild bear populations is also being developed. This analysis will be carried out in cooperation with the IUCN BSG and Chinese government.