News / Asia

Vietnam Animal Activists at Odds with Officials Over Bear Sanctuary

Actress Maggie Q, a goodwill ambassador for Moon Bear Rescue Vietnam, plays with an Asiatic black bear cub at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park, north of Hanoi May 14, 2009.
Actress Maggie Q, a goodwill ambassador for Moon Bear Rescue Vietnam, plays with an Asiatic black bear cub at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao National Park, north of Hanoi May 14, 2009.
Marianne Brown
Animal rights activists in Vietnam are confronting the government over a move to evict one of the country’s few bear sanctuaries for what it says are reasons of national security. Activists say the case is an example of government corruption in lucrative business deals.
 
Two moon bear cubs chewing a hanging rope toy in a special enclosure are the newest additions to a bear sanctuary in Tam Dao national park 70 kilometers from Hanoi. They were rescued from two men on their way to a province bordering China, where conservationists believe they were going to be sold to a farm that extracts bile from animals.
 
Animal bile is used in traditional Asian medicine as an anti-inflammatory, to treat fever, improve eyesight, and heal other ailments. Bile farming is illegal in Vietnam.
 
Despite the cubs' rescue, their future could still be uncertain. The bear sanctuary, run by Hong Kong-based Animals Asia, says it is facing possible closure. The organization's Vietnam director, Tuan Bendixsen, said he was told the Ministry of Defense issued an order to evict the rescue center from the national park because of reasons of national security.
 

“MARD [the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development] convened a meeting between the different ministries and the Vinh Phuc provincial government and also the Vinh Phuc military commander as well," Tuan said. "From that meeting they issued a communique which means that the conclusion of the meeting is that the centre must be closed and moved elsewhere.”
 
Many of the 104 animals in the sanctuary have been saved from life in bile farms where animals are often kept drugged and restrained in small cages. Bile is extracted by jabbing needles into their gall bladders, sometimes as often as twice a day.
 
Tuan says apart from the center at Tam Dao, Vietnam has only a small number of sanctuaries for rescued bears with very limited space. He says the situation would worsen if Animals Asia is forced to close the Tam Dao center because authorities have neither the expertise nor the resources to look after rescued bears.
 
“It’s difficult now to get law enforcement. But if that’s the case [the center is closed down] it will be so much easier for them to say we cannot confiscate them because there’s nowhere for confiscated bears to go to,” Tuan said.
 
The controversy heightened when Animals Asia issued a press release accusing national park director Do Dinh Tien of lobbying the Ministry of Defense to evict the sanctuary for personal reasons. The charity said Tien wanted the earmarked land for a hotel project that allegedly has business ties to Tien's daughter.
 
Tien denies the accusations. He says he is a very junior person and does not know people in high positions. He says accusations that he is behind the eviction letter are nonsensical because he does not have any relatives or know any officials working at the Ministry of Defense.
 
But some say the rescue center's expansion could affect national security. Tran The Lien, director of the Natural Conservation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, says he did not think the center would be evicted, but it would affect expansion plans. If the center is expanded into the Chau Dau valley it would meet a military base so it should be expanded in another direction.
 
The Vietnamese government banned bear bile farming in 1992, but people are allowed to keep bears as pets or tourist attractions. Owners were warned not to use the animals for bile. However, advertisements for bear bile are easy to find on the roadside. Around 4,000 bears are believed to be held in captivity in the country.
 
Animal Asia's Tuan says the final decision on the fate of the rescue center will be made by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who gave permission for the sanctuary to be built in 2008. He says the government's commitment to end bear-bile farming would be cast in doubt if Dung backs the Defense Ministry.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid