Conservation group urges ban of bear bile massage oil in Vietnam
Jun 15, 2011, 10:56 GMT
Hanoi - A conservation organization has urged Vietnamese authorities to ban a type of massage cream that contains bear bile extract, the group said Wednesday.
The secretariat of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species, has written to the Vietnam Drug Administration requesting the ban of the cream known as Misa Bear, said Thai Truyen of the conservation organization's Hanoi office.
The cream claims to provide 'soothing relief from minor arthritis pain, aching and strained muscles and backache,' and is sold in Vietnam and China, Truyen said.
The trade of bear products for commercial purposes is banned in Vietnam, which has been a party to CITES since 1994, but its use remains widespread.
The bile, extracted from the gall bladder of live bears, is believed to cure fevers, liver ailments and muscle injuries, and is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. The practice originated in China 2,000 years ago before spreading to other East Asian countries.
According to a survey of 3,000 people last year by Vietnamese Education for Nature, the national partner of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, 70 per cent of respondents said they would use bear bile for medicinal purposes.
The bile is usually taken from Asian black bears, or ursus thibetanus, which are listed under the CITES appendix I of endangered species.
Bile farming is also associated with cruelty to the animals, who have been reported by activist groups to chew off their own paws in poor captivity conditions, leading some farms to remove their teeth and claws.