A TRAFFIC report released last week confirmed thousands of Asian bears had been illegally traded for body parts between 2000 and 2011.
The report analysed data on hundreds of seizures of live bears, bear parts and derivatives from close to 700 seizures revealed that a minimum of 2,801 individual bears would have been traded either live or for their parts between 2000 and 2011.
The report, Brought to Bear, is an alarming warning on Asia’s ongoing widespread bear trade and the need for immediate international action.
Brought to Bear is the first outcome in the innovative partnership between TRAFFIC and several Australasian Zoos, including Taronga Zoo.
The partnership supports a TRAFFIC Wildlife Crime Data Analyst, who is collating, managing, analysing and reporting on all wildlife trade related crime in South-east Asia. This analyst is one of the authors of Brought to Bear and used sophisticated wildlife crime data mapping techniques to inform this report.
Bears are illegally trafficked for their parts, meat, skins and trophies while their gall bladders and bile are used to manufacture traditional medicines.
To help combat this illegal market, Taronga, in partnership with TRAFFIC, has developed the Wildlife Witness app, enabling users to directly report suspicious wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinning the location of an incident and submitting the details to the Crime Data Analyst at TRAFFIC who notifies relevant authorities.
Australian travellers can easily download the free app to anonymously and safely report the poaching or sale of wildlife products in Australia or in overseas markets and restaurants.
At Taronga, our male Sun Bear Mr Hobbs was once destined to become bear paw soup until an Australian businessman found the young bear cub chained in a restaurant in Cambodia.
He saved Mr Hobbs by making a report which allowed him to be brought to Australia and come to live at Taronga.
Carnivore Keeper, Leslie Small, says this report “improves awareness of the sheer numbers of animals affected by the illegal wildlife trade.
“Not only do wild bear populations have to cope with habitat destruction, but populations have the added impact of the illegal demand for bear products and parts.
“Mr. Hobbs is one of the “lucky ones” to have survived the illegal wildlife trade. However, thousands of birds, mammals and reptiles are being taken alive from the wild for the pet, restaurant or medicine trades.”
The Wildlife Witness app allows every member of the public to be part of the solution by helping TRAFFIC to watch out for wildlife trade.
The TRAFFIC report can be read here.
Download the Wildlife Witness app for Android and Apple.