Humans have always used wild animals and plants for their products, such as fruits and seeds for food, skins for clothing, wood for fires etc.

Case History - Bears

The world's bears, like tigers and rhinos, have suffered because of a medicinal demand for their parts in the Far East - China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The bear's gall bladder is in the most demand, believed by the Chinese to be good for all sorts of ailments, from liver disease to blindness. Gall bladders are on sale throughout Asia and the trade is thriving because of increasing affluence in the Far East. China and Korea have 'bear farms' where bears are kept in cruel conditions and 'milked' for their bile (the liquid from the gall bladder).

The Asian bear species i.e. Asiatic black bear, sun bear, sloth bear and the brown bear in Russia, are under the greatest threat.

The American black bear, brown bears in Europe and North America, and spectacled bears in South America, are now being poached.

Many bear cubs have been captured alive, by killing their mothers, and used as 'dancing' bears in India, Pakistan and Turkey. There has been much public opposition to these cruel practices and they are beginning to be outlawed.

Trade laws
All bear populations are listed on either Appendix I or II. They are protected on paper in many countries and in others they may be legally hunted for 'sport', but throughout most Asian countries law enforcement is practically non - existent and prosecutions are rare.

The future
Organisations such as The World Society for the Protection of Animals is campaigning against abuses of bears and public protest is causing Far Eastern governments to make greater efforts to enforce laws which are designed to protect bears. As with tigers and rhinos, it is important to promote alternative medicines to users of Chinese cures.

Read More: Case History - Leopard

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