Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders

2005-2006 Class Project Summaries



Project Summary: The use of bear gall and bile in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has both cultural and historical significance. The world’s eight bear species are unique due to their production of UDCA, and their bile and gall are valued for their ability to treat numerous medical ailments. This demand has driven the market for bear bile and gall, and has had a negative impact on Asian bears specifically, both within the wild and in bear farms. The Alternatives to Bear Bile Campaign project group developed a partnership with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to increase the dissemination of a survey on alternatives to bear bile more widely to U.S. TCM practitioners. The group made improvements to the existing survey and focused on an outreach campaign that included contacting TCM professionals as well as attending conferences and symposiums. The result of the group work was the distribution of over 300 surveys to the targeted audience, and the analysis of 47 completed and returned surveys. The surveys indicated that many of the alternative herbs and patent formulas were trusted and accepted, with the exception of a few. In a final white paper completed with input from partners at WSPA, the group compiled the details of this process and evaluation. As a next step, the group encouraged WSPA to take the results of their expanded survey campaign, as well as the revised survey, and develop an outreach strategy which targets the TCM community within China.


Project Sumary: Populations of both sun and sloth bears have been in steady decline across Southern and Southeast Asia, and are recognized as highly endangered under CITES and by the IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group. Accordingly, community-level conservation education addressing coexistence with and conservation of these bear species is critical to their future survival. This in-situ project facilitated by the EWCL Education and Outreach Team, via the Philadelphia Zoo, created priority sun and sloth bear educational materials to supplement existing conservation programs in the region, supporting targeted bear conservation awareness in communities where it is limited or nonexistent. Together with partners, two Southeast Asian bear conservation posters were created: one sloth bear poster in English and Hindi for Indian partners and one sun bear conservation in English and Khmer for Cambodian partners. In India, 5,000 full-sized sloth bear posters (2,500 in Hindi and 2,500 in English) were created and distributed during the country’s national Wildlife Week to more than 65 conservation education organizations including forest divisions, zoological partners, education institutes, schools and universities, reaching more than 10,000 community members in their conservation awareness programs. A total of 400 full-sized and 50,000 flyer-sized sun bear posters in Khmer were distributed to schools and communities in Cambodia. It is anticipated that the sun bear and sloth bear conservation awareness campaign will reach over 60,000 community members and close to 10,000 school children.


Project Sumary: Research is necessary to document the impacts of wildlife farming on trade in wild-harvested endangered species. The project group objectively and rigorously examined the status of and trends in the trade of wild bears in Southeast Asia. By examining patterns and trends in bear bile farming, wild bear populations and harvests, and the prices for wild and farmed bear products in Southeast Asia, the group hoped to document the impact of bear bile farming, if any, on the harvest of wild bears in the region. This analysis was designed to inform the policy debate regarding the conservation merits of bear bile farming, as well as anticipated debates regarding the potential farming of tigers (for the tiger bone trade) and other endangered species.
Two research questions were addressed: (1) what are the status of and trends in the wild bear trade in Southeast Asia?; and (2) what has been the impact of bear bile farming on the status of and trends in the wild bear trade in Southeast Asia? Data was collected on five subject areas: (1) legal status of bear exploitation and use from 1970-present in SE Asia (approximately 300 data points from 2 sources); (2) population of farmed bears in SE Asia (approximately 20 data points from 10 sources); (3) population of wild bears in SE Asia (approximately 75 data points from 21 sources); (4) illegal and legal trade data on bear products (approximately 260 data points from 5 primary sources; and (5) market status and trends from 1970-present in SE Asia (approximately 675 data points from 11 sources). Analysis of data is currently ongoing in partnership with Resources for the Future specialists (Sanchirico/Fischer).


Project Sumary: In an effort to promote the short- and long-term conservation of the highly imperiled sun bear, the Saving Sun Bears project creatively combined targeted research, education, and awareness efforts to produce a coordinated initiative that benefited sun bear populations in the wild and provided exciting and informative sun bear information for partner group constituents. Specifically, the EWCL Awareness Group partnered with on-the-ground sun bear specialists ST Wong and Gabriella Fredriksson to: 1) Create and distribute a ten-segment, twenty piece “Sun Bear Adventure Journals” (SBAJ) series to broadcast to targeted audiences by project supporters in the United States and Southeast Asia; 2) Supported the determination of the distribution and conservation needs of sun bears in Malaysia; and 3) Assisted in creating a Malayan Sun Bear Education Center at a community environmental education facility in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. To achieve these ends, the group successfully raised $32,875 which was used to fund a project determining the distribution of sun bears throughout Malaysia for critical habitat and conservation planning, and also to fund a sun bear conservation and educational display at a community environmental education facility in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The group also created the 36-page Sun Bear Adventure Journal which was used to leverage this money, and has also been utilized as a powerful sun bear conservation tool in the United States, Indonesia, and Malaysia.