Published 20 September 2012

Call for action on bear bile farming among Motions approved at IUCN Congress

Jeju, South Korea, 20th September 2012—as the IUCN World Conservation Congress wrapped up in Jeju, South Kora, IUCN members voted on a number of Motions presented to them relating to key conservation initiatives. 

Bear farm advertisement in Laos © A. Oswell/TRAFFIC

Many of the Motions are relevant to TRAFFIC’s work on wildlife trade, and although they carry no legal backing, their formal approval and adoption by IUCN members is a strong indication of current thinking in conservation practices that can help shape government policy. 

Among the Motions approved was one to address issues surrounding the farming of bears for their bile, which was overwhelmingly accepted by voting delegates. The Motion included statements on conducting research to identify and promote the use of bear bile substitutes, the development of monitoring systems to track wild bear populations and encouragement for Viet Nam and South Korea's efforts towards ending bear farming altogether.

According to Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia: “This is a tremendous step forward in global efforts to stamp out illegal bear farming, and ultimately to ensure successful conservation of bears, especially those species most heavily impacted by the trade in bear bile products. 

“Every effort should be made to ensure this IUCN Motion goes down in history as a turning point in the fight to save wild bears.”

Other Motions approved by delegates to the Congress included one on enhancing anti-poaching and wildlife resource protection efforts using rhino and elephant as indicators. The Motion called for adequate funding for protected areas management, and for improved enforcement and legislation for protection of wildlife resources.

Motions calling for greater protection of African Elephants and rhinos were also passed separately, while there were also calls for greater efforts to enforce legislation against the illegal hunting of wild birds through the Mediterranean region and a number of Motions related to fisheries management.