Fourteen-year-old Celia Ho from Hong Kong recently launched a campaign to stop the ivory trade after becoming inspired by Bryan Christy’s “Blood Ivory” article in National Geographic magazine. Her young voice represents a new hope for elephants that is increasing throughout Asia while her story illustrates how one person can make a difference.
Kaitlyn Foley, senior programme officer at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, talks about the bear bile trade in Asia. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how recent research by TRAFFIC shows that the illegal bear bile trade continues unabated across Asia on a large scale.
The poaching and illegal trade of bears is driven largely by the demand for their bile, which is used in traditional medicine and folk remedies. Research by TRAFFIC, published in the report Pills, Powders, Vials & Flakes: The bear bile trade in Asia, found bear bile products on sale in traditional medicine outlets in all but one (Macao) of the 13 countries/territories surveyed, suggesting a complex and robust trade in bear products. Of particular note were mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, where bear bile products were most frequently observed. While bile from bear farms in China is legal if sold domestically, TRAFFIC found this Chinese bear bile being illegal sold across the border. It also noted that “Mom & Pop” bear farms were popping up in Laos and Myanmar, making these countries new potential hubs for this trade.
Kaitlyn-Elizabeth Foley is a senior programme officer at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Science in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University. Her main research interests include wildlife trade, conservation, and animal behavior and welfare. For the past nine years, Kaitlyn has lived and worked abroad in Italy, the United Kingdom and Malaysia. Most recently her work and research interest has been focused on the conservation and mitigation of trade in bears and the pet trade of mammals in Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on June 20, 2011.
Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, talks about Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, and discusses the practice of farming them for their bile in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the horrific conditions on many of these bear farms and what she and others are doing to save them. In one of the most poignant moments of the interview, Robinson reveals the amazing capacity of these bears to forgive, noting “you’d have to be someone like Mandela to be able to forgive that sort of imprisonment” and also that the bears rescue people as much as people rescue the bears, saying “These bears teach us to be better people. They teach us to forgive. They teach us to overcome our problems and difficulties.” Born in the United Kingdom, Jill Robinson arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent the next 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In 1993, a chance visit to a bear farm in southern China changed Jill's life. Starting with this visit, she’s worked tirelessly to expose the plight of endangered Asiatic black bears cruelly farmed and milked for their bile, and learned how easily herbs and synthetics could replace bear bile. In 1995, she secured the release of the original bears she had discovered in 1993. Then, in 1998, she founded Animals Asia and in July 2000 she and the Animals Asia team signed a breakthrough agreement with the Chinese authorities to rescue 500 farmed bears and work towards promoting herbal alternatives to bile and the elimination of bear farming. Today, the Moon Bear Rescue has seen the rescue of 260 bears in China and the opening of a new rescue centre for 200 farmed bears in Vietnam. To date, 30 bears have been rescued there. Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue sanctuaries are spearheading far-reaching community, education and welfare programs, which benefit both animals and people alike. Jill is a former member of the Hong Kong Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Group and has received numerous awards in recognition of her services to animal welfare in Asia, including the Readers Digest “Hero for Today” award, an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in the Birthday Honours List, the USA Genesis Award (which is the only major media and arts award concerning animal issues), and others. In 2008, she was named “Outstanding Earth Champion” in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 24, 2010.