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PUBLISHED: Aug 23, 2014 10:00pm

Malaysia gains notoriety for illegal hunting and trading of bears

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RAJINA DHILLON By:
Rajina Dhillon

Bear parts that were seized in Terengganu. According to Traffic, bears are trafficked for their meat and skins, while their gall bladders and bile are used to make traditional medicines. — Pic courtesy of Traffic.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23, 2014:

Malaysia is among the many Asian countries that are increasingly gaining notoriety for the illegal hunting and trade of bears.

Based on analysis by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, Malaysia had reported up to 38 cases of bear trade between the year 2000 and 2011.

This was of the total 694 cases reported in that period in 17 countries and territories across Asia.

According to Traffic’s analysis findings published in their “Brought to Bear: An Analysis of Seizures Across Asia (2000–2011)” report, the majority of the reported seizures were in Cambodia (190), China (145), Vietnam (102), Russia (59), Malaysia (38), Thailand (29), Laos (29) and India (23).

A study of the 694 cases also showed that a minimum of 2,801 individual bears were traded for their parts and derivatives in that period.

In its report, Traffic states that bears are traded for a number of reasons, including using live bears to stock bile farms and for the pet or dancing bear trade.

Bears are also trafficked for their meat and skins, and as trophies, while their gall bladders and bile are used to make traditional medicines.

Bear parts seized in illegal trade in the country were mostly bear meat, claws and gall bladders.

According to the report, Malaysia had a low level of bile product seizures, but the country was known to have a market for such products.

“This may suggest that Malaysian authorities are not being as vigilant as they could be with regards to the smuggling and the reporting of bear bile products into the country and potentially other countries,” stated the report.

What was also alarming was of the total 694 reported cases, only 51 had details of arrest or prosecution.

Forty three of those were reported to have resulted in fines imposed in Malaysia, China, Singapore and Vietnam.

“The number of seizures are a credit to the enforcement agencies, but they undoubtedly only stop a fraction of the overall trafficking because bear products are still widely and easily available across Asia,” Dr Chris R. Shepherd, regional director of Traffic in Southeast Asia, said.

Shepherd had earlier in May revealed that orders of bear paw soup and demand for medicines made from bear bile had led poachers and traffickers setting snares in Malaysia’s protected forests and smuggling dead bears or their parts for local buyers and those abroad.

He had also observed that despite international conventions and Malaysian laws that prohibiting the trade of sun bears, it has not dampened the demand for such parts.

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