Last update 3/12/2012 10:31:00 AM (GMT+7)

The bears which will never return to the virgin forests

VietNamNet Bridge – Tens of bears have been trained intensively to regain their instinct for survival. However, they still have not been released to the forests over the last three years.

Part 3: The call from the wild

The Great Veca Company, which specializes in making wooden furniture for export, located in Song May Industrial Zone in Trang Bom district of Dong Nai province voluntarily brought seven Tibetan bears to the bear rescue center, funded by WAR (Wildlife at Risk), in the Cat Tien National Park.

If counting on the seven bears, the total number of bears trained at the center has reached 35. The main work of the officers at the center is training the bears to climb, look for food, try to help restore the wild instinct, so that they can feed themselves when they return to the forests.

The area for training is a 1 hectare land plot with iron fence around. The training center was set up in October 2008, when 16 bears were brought there. However, no bear has been returned to the forests so far.

Nguyen Vu Khoi, Director of WAR, when asked about this, said that the bears brought to the center are all old and weak. The bears were arrested when they were small, and they were confined in small cases for more than ten years. Therefore, though the bears have been trained for years, they still cannot return to the wild.

When asked why he does not make intervention and ask the center to return the bears to the forests, Director of the Cat Tien National Park Tran Van Thanh, also said that the center cannot decide when to set the bears free. The rescuers need to be sure that the bears get strong enough and can feed themselves when they live in the forests.

“Before the bears were rescued, they were confined, tapped for bear gall. Most of them were in very bad conditions when they were brought to the center,” Thanh said.

A rescuer at the center said that many bears will never be able to return to the virgin forests. They are the bears who got legs broken because they fell into the hunters’ traps, or they had the joints removed. Their parts of the bodies were taken by people, just because the people believe that bears can help enhance human vitality.

“They anesthetized and then tied the bears. After that, they used injection needle to punch into the bears’ abdomen to seek gallbladder,” a rescuer described how people exploit bear gall at bear farms. After many times, the abdomen of the bears got infected, which then killed the bears.
According to the Forest Management Agency, there are 4000 bear individuals which have been attached with chips for easier management. The majority of bears were captured in small cases for bear gall. Most of the bears got withering and became useless for hunters before they were brought to the rescue centers.

The rescuer said that that after many years of living near people, the bears would never be able to resume their instinct. Therefore, if returning bears to the forests, they may not be able to escape from the hunters.

He went on to say that it is very likely that the bears at the Cat Tien center, as well as other centers, would serve for the gene preservation, while they would never be able to return to the forests.

Source: NLD