Skin and Bones

NOTICE: S&B is taking a break. We will be back with a revamp mid 2019! Unravelling the Illegal and controversial industry that threatens global biodiversity.

Bears: Ferocious, curious and apparently delicious (enough at least to spend $1000 on a bowl of soup). Although it is predominantly Asian species that are targeted for traditional medicine, the high demand for bear parts and derivatives driven by the Asian market, also leads to poaching of North American species.

hunted for

  • PAWS - A Gourmet Delicacy often in Soup
  • MEAT - Luxury Meat
  • GALL BLADDERS AND BILE- Traditional Medicine, Shampoos, Toothpaste, Wine and Tonics
  • SKINS - Decorative Trophies
  • GENITALIA - Aphrodisiac
  • LIVE CUBS -  Pets, Performance animals or to Stock bear bile farms.


Source: China Daily

Asia Across the World
Asiatic Black Bear
Ursus thibetanus
Brown Bear
Ursus arctos
Least Concern
Sun Bear
Helarctos malayanus
Spectacled Bear
Tremarctos ornatus
Sloth Bear
Melursus ursinus
Polar Bear
Ursus maritimus
Giant Panda
Ailuropoda melanoleuca
American Black Bear
Ursus americanus
Least Concerned

 'In isolated cases, bear embryos have also been seized suspended in honey in an attempt to conceal them.'

-Assessment of illegal bear trade, INTERPOL 


With the array of parts and money to be made from one bear alone the line between illegal and legal trade becomes blurred as criminals exploit legal loopholes. To make things clear, domestic trade of bear bile is legal, under strict regulation, within mainland China and Japan, but is illegal in Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, including all international trade. More than 10'000 bears are kept in cages across China to painfully extract digestive juices from their gall bladders, but why then if illegal do thousands of bears in Viet nam face the same fate?

As well as poaching, these species are having to fight to survive against habitat loss due to conversion to agriculture and illegal logging. This double blow is an act of criminal opportunists as reported cases have found bear poaching evidence at illegal logging sites.

Credit: Animals Asia

Credit: Animals Asia

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