Indochina Bear Conservation and Rescue Programme
To conserve and rescue Asiatic black bears and sun bears throughout Indochina
Since 1997, the Free the Bears Fund (FTB) has been working to protect Indochina's threatened sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) and Asiatic black (or moon) bears (Ursus thibetanus) against a variety of threats, including habitat loss and illegal hunting to feed the demand for bears and their body parts for use in traditional medicine (bile farming), the restaurant trade (bear paw soup) and the pet trade.
Working with local and national government partners, plus like-minded conservation non-governmental agencies, more than 200 bears have already found safe haven in sanctuaries established by FTB to provide life-long care for bears that have been confiscated as a result of law enforcement efforts. Our sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam serve as educational facilities for more than 500 000 visitors per year to learn about the threats facing Asia's bears, as well as supporting further outreach efforts to promote environmental awareness in key communities surrounding protected areas.
Groundbreaking research on wild bear populations throughout the region along with support for protected area ranger training is helping to ensure that sun bear and moon bear populations receive greater conservation attention and protection to stabilise in the longer term. With the illegal wildlife trade posing possibly the single greatest threat to South-East Asian wildlife, FTB also focuses on strengthening national legislation to protect bears and other wildlife whilst working with governments to ensure that any confiscated bears can be given a safe home in keeping with local cultural sensitivities.
WAZA Conservation Project 10011 is implemented by the Free the Bears Fund, with support provided by Perth Zoo, Australian National Zoo and Aquarium, Taronga Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, Wellington Zoo, Zoo St. Martin La Plaine, Rare Species Conservation Centre and the Royal Zoological Society of Edinburgh. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the Forestry Administration of Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, Cambodia; Wildlife Alliance, Cambodia; Ministry of Forests and Fisheries, Laos; Forest Protection Department-Kien Giang, Vietnam; Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam; and Wildlife at Risk, Vietnam.
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