Rules fail to stop bear-part traders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 1994, 12:00am

THE illegal sale of bear products is still widespread despite tighter regulations covering the trade, according to a survey by two animal rights groups.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and EarthCare sent a researcher to 50 Chinese medicine shops across the territory for the survey.

And in 21 of them - 42 per cent - illegal bear products, including bile, bile crystals and medicines containing gall bladder extracts were found. Whole gall bladders were being sold in 30 per cent of them.

The bear parts are used as traditional cures for ailments like liver problems, heart trouble and colds.

Earlier this year, the Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) brought in a stringent new system of regulation for traders dealing in bear products.

The move aimed to limit supplies and required traders to get a licence from the AFD.

Traders selling whole gall bladders have to register them with the Government and get them tagged.

But Jill Robinson, Asia representative of the IFAW said: 'The gall bladders we bought were not tagged and the other extracts also turned out to be illegal.

'A lot of the traders openly boasted that they had large supplies of the bear products and many of them seemed to be in ignorance of the new rules,' she added.

The gall bladders were on sale for $10,000, and a tael of the crystals sold for between $2,000 and $15,000.

'Many of the items sold as bear gall bladders often turn out to have come from pigs and that may have been the case with some of the purchases we made,' said Ms Robinson.

The results of the survey have been given to the AFD. A spokesman for the government department said that checks would be carried out at all the shops named as selling illegal bear parts.