The cruel practice of tapping and mutilating caged bears for the bile from their gall bladders will soon come to an end in Vietnam. Trade in bear bile, a component of traditional medicine, is illegal in the country but a legal loophole allowed for its continued production. An agreement signed this week between Animals Asia and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry will close that loophole and ensure that the approximately 1,000 bears currently in private hands will move to sanctuaries. This doesn’t completely end the practice; a 2011 report from TRAFFIC found bear bile production and sales in 12 Asian countries.
The exploitation of threatened slow lorises has spread to Turkey. New research shows that the country is the latest to use the tiny primates as tourist props, where people can pose with the animals for a nominal fee. Researchers found dozens of examples of tourists posing with two vulnerable South Asian loris species, despite the fact that no primate has ever been legally imported into Turkey. Lorises, perhaps best known from seemingly adorable YouTube videos, have become increasingly illegally trafficked in recent years. The fragile, nocturnal animals suffer greatly from the practice and rarely survive long in captivity.
Criminal syndicates from a small town in southern China are responsible for trafficking as much as 80 percent of all illegal ivory into the country, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency. Undercover operatives tracked a two-ton shipment of tusks from Mozambique to the town of Shuidong, thereby revealing trade routes, rampant bribery, and the ability to smuggle other wildlife products, including pangolin scales and rhino horns. China has announced the closure of its legal ivory market, but EIA found the syndicates remained active as late as last month.