Archive for the ‘Vietnam’ Tag

“Moon bears don’t feel pain” and other moon bear myths   Leave a comment

From:  AnimalsAsia

Januay 27, 2015 by Sarah Dempsey

Bear Manager Sarah Dempsey has spent over two years caring for moon bears at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre – making her perfectly placed to put the record straight about these wonderful, charismatic animals.

1/ There aren’t bears in Vietnam, are there?

Yes, bears are native to Vietnam! One of the first things I hear when I say I work with bears at Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre is: “I didn’t know there were bears in Vietnam?” Well, yes there are!

Asiatic black bears are native to Vietnam and throughout southern Asia from Pakistan to the islands of Japan. There are also other species of bears native to Asia and these include the smallest of the bear species, also native to Vietnam, sun bears (of which we have eight at our Vietnam Sanctuary).

Other bears in Asia include sloth bears and probably the most famous and easily recognisable, giant pandas.

 

Misty (latterly Nora JamJack) and Rain playing at VBRC, 2012

2/ So Asiatic black bears are the same as North American black bears right?

Wrong! Asiatic black bears and American black bears are close relatives – closer than the six other living bear species – though there are notable differences. Similar in size to the American black bears, their fur is longer giving them a shaggier appearance often characterised by the long “ruff’ which most Asiatic black bears have around the neck.

In northern parts of their range, Asiatic black bears tend to hibernate, but in the southern limits of their range they’re less likely to. Meanwhile American black bears hibernate throughout the extent of their range and lack the characteristic moon–shaped crescent of pale yellow fur on their chest. And the nicest thing of all, unlike the smaller ears of American black bears, Asiatic black bears have the ears that have earned them the nickname of Mickey Mouse bears!

Thao - a glorious handsome moon bear at VBRC

3/ All bears are carnivores right? 

Wrong! Like many other bear species, moon bears belong to the order Carnivora but are omnivores. Greenery ­– or browse – from trees makes up the bulk of their wild diet along with fruits and available vegetables such as sweet potato and corn. In smaller amounts they also enjoy insects, small mammals, fish and reptiles. They are incredibly opportunistic foragers, so food which humans have left behind makes its way in there too!

At Animals Asia we try to replicate (the healthier parts) of a wild diet by providing the bears with daily native browse such as bamboo, jack fruit and ficus, fruits, vegetables and a small amount of dry dog food. As we keep them in semi-wild enclosures there is often the opportunity to forage for insects too, particularly termites, ants and earthworms. In the wild their diet also adheres to seasonal trends so we replicate this to the best of our ability by offering seasonal soft fruits in summer and chestnuts in winter.

One of their absolute favorite foods both in the wild and here is honey, very much like the most famous bear of all! Though as this is a rarer and highly prized treat for wild bears, we also only use honey as an occasional high-ranking reward.

Mema eating browse

4/ Bears are highly aggressive and therefore difficult to work with

Although Asiatic black bears have some notoriety for being aggressive when they come into contact with people in the wild (mainly if someone accidentally gives them a fright, or comes between a mother and cubs) this is actually a benefit in countries where they are frequently poached to be sold into the bear bile trade, and is far from true if captive bears are managed appropriately.

When we rescue bears and bring them to our centres they will eventually be integrated into larger groups in bear houses that enjoy the benefits of large semi-wild enclosures. We use positive reinforcement to allow us to manage them easily in this type of setting.

This is the process of increasing the chance of a behavior recurring by rewarding it. We use small pieces of fruit as rewards for bears when we need to move them between dens and in or out of the enclosures.

We do the same when we need to see a bear close up for a quick health inspection or when a problem is reported, and also to weigh our bears on a regular basis. We find that when working with bears this way and always providing them with choice, we see calm bears that seem to enjoy interacting with staff and some love weigh days so much we struggle to get them to go back out when we’ve finished!

Thomas, Taz and Georges  with a swing 7

5/ Bears don’t feel pain, right?

Very wrong! In February 2013, the China Daily quoted the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as saying, “The process of extracting bear bile was as easy, natural and painless as turning on a tap. After the operation was done, bears went out to play happily.” This is – as you can imagine – absolutely incorrect. Bile is extracted using various painful, invasive techniques, all of which cause massive infection.

The pain bears on farms are clearly suffering from is often characterised not only by their physical condition but also by self-mutilation, noise, aggression, stereotypic behaviours (repetitive behaviours which serve no purpose but are commonly thought of as a coping mechanism) and in some animals complete apathy, all of which can be commonly seen in bears on bile farms.

A bile extraction site on a moon bear

 

 

 

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Hundreds of animals seized in operation targeting wildlife trafficking across Asia   2 comments

From:  InterPol

Dec. 19, 2014

LYON, France – A five-month long INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking in tigers and other big cats across Asia has resulted in the seizure of hundreds of animals and more than 160 arrests.

Involving 13 countries, Operation PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife Species) also focused on lesser known species also in high demand by the black market, such as bears and pangolins. Wildlife traders using the internet and social media in certain countries were also investigated.

Among the live animals recovered were tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys, red pandas, lions and crocodiles in addition to 3,500 kg of elephant ivory, 280kg of pangolin scales, rhino horns and more than 4,000 kg of red sandalwood. A large number of turtles, tortoises and birds were also seized across a wide range of countries indicating a high demand for these species.

Designed and developed by the involved member countries as a collaborative law enforcement response to wildlife crime, Operation PAWS was coordinated by INTERPOL’s Environmental security unit as part of Project Predator, in addition to support from the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

Aimed at supporting and enhancing the governance and law enforcement capacity for the conservation of Asian big cats, INTERPOL’s Project Predator is primarily funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The 13 countries which participated in Operation PAWS which was conducted between July and November were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. It was also supported by Australia, Canada and the USA.

Live tigers, leopards, bears, lions and crocodiles in addition to 3,500 kg of elephant ivory, 280kg of pangolin scales, tiger skins and rhino horns were seized during the five-month long Operation PAWS. © Indonesia

 

 

A five-month long INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking in tigers and other big cats across Asia has resulted in the seizure of hundreds of animals and more than 160 arrests. © Vietnam

 

As well as tigers and other Asian big cats Operation PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife Species) also focused on lesser known species also in high demand by the black market, such as bears and pangolins. © Vietnam

 

Hundreds of animals were seized in an INTERPOL coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking across Asia. © Malaysia

 

 

Rhino horn declining in demand   1 comment

 

 

A story published by The Guardian states that rhino horn is in less demand. This news comes at a time when rhinos have reached the ‘tipping point’ – when rhino numbers are declining from poaching faster than rhino are reproducing.

“A poll conducted by Nielsen for the Humane Society International (HSI) and the Vietnam Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) found that Rhino horn demand in Vietnam dropped by more than a third in one year.”

 

Efforts to curb trade in rhino horn appear to be gaining traction

A year long public information campaign to try to deter people from buying and consuming rhino horn was conducted in Vietnam, a key market for the trade of rhino horn.

The public information campaign, done through business, university, school and women’s groups in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, focused on dispelling the myth that rhino horn has medicinal value.

Following the campaign, only 2.6% of people in Vietnam now continue to buy and use rhino horn, a decrease of 38%, the report stated.

And there has been a 25% decrease in the number of people who think rhino horn, which is made of the same material as fingernails and hair, has medicinal value. However, 38% of Vietnamese still think it can treat diseases such as cancer and rheumatism.

 

One Person Can Make a Difference

One woman, an Australian named Lynn Johnson, raised money to launch a series of advertisements in Vietnam that warn people rhino horn is harmful to them and is a bad choice as a status symbol.

Advertisements have appeared on buses and billboards, and an HSI book called I’m a Little Rhino has been distributed in schools.

Ms. Johnson is a business woman with no prior experience in conservation efforts. To that I say, well done. 

“The messaging has gone up significantly in Vietnam over the past year which is fantastic,” Ms. Johnson said. “Our campaign targets the users directly but overall the amount of information aimed at Vietnamese has increased markedly.”

Although there are a lot of questions still to be answered in how this data was obtained – for instance, how many people did they poll to come up with these statistics?; has the supply side of the poaching chain slowed down yet? – it’s a hopeful sign that in a  short period of time, through education, a focused campaign in the right areas, and the help of individuals like you and me, public perception can be changed.

Behavior then usually follows.

Yes, it appears things are finally heading in the right direction, but this doesn’t mean we can not afford to stop anti-poaching efforts. If anything, these findings only confirm that our efforts are working and that maybe there is a chance to halt demand for rhino horn and save the African Rhino after all.

Read more: http://africainside.org/2014/07/21/beverly-derek-joubert-african-rhinos/

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Vietnam gets tough on illegal cross-border dog trading   1 comment

Reblogged from AnimalsAsia:

13 February 2014

Dogs trafficked in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health has issued a directive ordering provincial authorities to crack down on the illegal trafficking of dogs for human consumption as rabies concerns rise. The action will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane dog meat trade in this region.

The move follows a ground-breaking meeting in Hanoi last August, when members of the Asia Canine Protection Alliance met with the authorities of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos agreed to consider a five-year moratorium on the commercial transport of dogs from one country to another. ACPA is made up of Change For Animals FoundationHumane Society International, Animals Asia and Soi Dog Foundation.

The DAH directive specifically instructs DAH sub departments to strengthen the inspection and prevention of illegal import, transport and trade of animals or animal products. The government has also instructed the DAH to work with international organisations to raise awareness about the dangers of consuming dog meat, and the illegality of much of the cross border trade.

Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam director for Animals Asia said:

“The dog meat trade has long been characterised by cruelty and corruption. Companion animals and strays are snatched and crammed into cages to be transported long distances. Their proximity and lack of care means diseases are rife. They are dangerous to those who choose to eat them and dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with them. Vietnam has long been the destination for trafficked dogs, from surrounding countries – if governments are serious about stopping trafficking then the corrupt and unregulated dog industry is the obvious place to start.”

Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement with Humane Society International stated:

“This new directive is a big step in ending this cruel and illegal trade of dogs over international borders. ACPA intends to assist the Vietnam government to insure this new directive is implemented to its fullest, preventing the intense suffering of thousands of dogs and the further spread of rabies”.

“Given the dog meat trade involves the only current mass movement of known or suspected rabies-infected dogs, there is a strong argument to stop the cycle of infection by banning this trade entirely,” continues Lola Webber, Programmes Leader for Change For Animals Foundation.

While the unregulated trade of dogs into Vietnam has been illegal since 2009, limited resources have meant the law is often unenforced and has remained, until now, a low priority. It is estimated that up to 5 million dogs are slaughtered in Vietnam every year for human consumption. All countries in the region have already banned the transport of dogs without evidence of rabies vaccinations, health certificates, export licenses and proof of origin.

“The Government of Vietnam is to be applauded for taking this initiative, and we hope other countries in the region will follow this lead. Many people cite culture in defence of the trade, but rabies and cholera and other diseases associated with it are no respecters of culture”, explains John Dalley, Vice President of Soi Dog Foundation.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has pledged to wipe out rabies in the region by 2020. Rabies is responsible for the deaths of up to 29,000 people in Asia every year. Rabies cannot be eliminated from the region without provincial authorities stopping illegal dog trafficking.

APCA

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