Wildlife Alliance Rescues Bear Cubs from Bile Trade
On May 19, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) and Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program joined forces to successfully rescue two young Asiatic black bears who were being held captive by wildlife traders in a village of Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia.
Responding to a tip received from an informant, the teams surrounded the suspected trader’s house to prevent the offenders from escaping. After denying the authorities entry in their residence, the offenders became increasingly aggressive while the Wildlife Alliance teams awaited a search warrant. Once permission was obtained, the teams were able to capture the bears and transport them to safety at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where they will receive care from Free the Bears.
Further investigation revealed that the offender’s husband was a known convicted wildlife trader and that there is a warrant out for his arrest. The teams also discovered a Vietnamese registered motorcycle on the premises, and it is likely these two bear cubs would have been sold to bile farms in Vietnam. Bears are often kept alive in these farms where their gall bladder and bile are harvested and sold for traditional medicine. The female offender was charged under Article 98 of the Forestry Law for Possessing Endangered Wildlife and is currently in pre-trial detention.
While Wildlife Alliance has made remarkable advances in dismantling the wildlife trade network in Cambodia, there has been a marked increase in transboundary wildlife cases, with Cambodia acting as the main transit hub for wildlife trafficking between Thailand and Vietnam. In response to this crisis, the WRRT is focusing its efforts on transnational smuggling, and last week’s successful rescue is another example of the WRRT working aggressively to dismantle the illegal wildlife trade in the entire region.