Viet Nam News
VĨNH PHÚC — Rescued bears in Việt Nam will have more living space with the inauguration of two houses with two semi-natural enclosures at Tam Đảo National Park bear reserve in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc.
The two semi-natural enclosures cover a total area of more than 5,600 square metres and are connected through bear houses, which have a total area of 465 square metres with 13 large dens inside.
The construction of the project started last September with a total investment of approximately VNĐ10 billion (US$440,000), financed by the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF).
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, Dr Tuan Bendixsen, Chief Representative of AAF Việt Nam, said the new houses, which have been significantly improved in comparison with older ones at the reserve, are able to accommodate 40 bears.
AFF made efforts to ensure there were enough fully-intact green trees to provide shade in the semi-natural enclosures, and maintained the natural terrain and small hills in order to create space for bears’ activities, he said.
He also expressed his thanks to the management board of the Tam Đảo National Park and the Forest Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for their support in implementation of the project.
Trần Minh Long, an official with the Forest Protection Department, praised the AAF’s efforts in recent years, adding that the two new enclosures would contribute to shutting down illegal bear farms and bringing bears back to their natural habitat.
The Vietnam Bear Sanctuary is the largest international-standard bear rescue centre in Việt Nam. Five double bear houses and 10 semi-natural enclosures have been built there so far, providing homes for 161 bears.
The country’s wild bear population has declined sharply over the past 20 years, according to recent surveys carried out in 22 protected areas.
Interviews with over 1,400 residents living next to the protected areas indicate that the bear population declined between 1990 and 2005, mainly due to hunting. Although 77 per cent of respondents believed bears were still present in their local forest area, the majority agreed their numbers had declined.
This period coincided with the expansion of bear bile farming, with the number of bears kept on bile farms increasing tenfold, from 400 to over 4,000 between 1999 and 2005. Bears in bile farms, mostly Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, are subjected to bile extraction from their gall-bladders, allegedly for medical use. — VNS