Southeast Asian Bears - Bile Farms
“Sloth bear” by mape_s is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Research is necessary to document the impacts of wildlife farming on trade in wild-harvested endangered species. We proposed to objectively and rigorously examine 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, we 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). Sources for data collection included peer-reviewed literature, government reports/documents, unpublished data, popular press, and personal communication. Analysis of data is currently ongoing in partnership with Resources for the Future specialists (Sanchirico/Fischer) and potentially with World Bank economist R. Damania.
Evaluation suggests moderate success in: (1) ongoing adaptation to challenges and opportunities (e.g., changing topics, use of conservation networks to assess bear/tiger policy needs); (2) deliberative, structured decision-making about data sources, analysis techniques, and project deliverables; and (3) individual capacity building (e.g., skill sets, professional networks, knowledge base). Finally, we have summary statistics that evidence the existence of an illegal wild bear trade in China, thus refuting the claim that bear farming has eliminated all illegal trade in wild bears.
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