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Singapore part of key international route for illegal bear products: Report

SINGAPORE — According to a report by an international group monitoring wildlife trade, Singapore is part of a key international trade route for bear bile products and has a well-developed domestic market.

SINGAPORE — According to a report by an international group monitoring wildlife trade, Singapore is part of a key international trade route for bear bile products and has a well-developed domestic market.

In its report released today (Aug 21), Traffic examined 694 cases of seizures of bears and bear products between 2000 and 2011 from 17 Asian countries or territories. Singapore accounted for 3 per cent or 23 of the seizures.

During that period, at least 2800 bears were traded, with the majority of seizures involving Cambodia (27 per cent), China (21 per cent) and Vietnam (15 per cent).

The report said the high demand for medicines containing bear bile could have driven the trade in Asia. Bears are commonly traded for its meat and skins, or for making traditional medicines with their gall bladders and bile.

“The number of seizures are a credit to the enforcement agencies, but they undoubtedly only stop a fraction of the overall trafficking because bear products are still widely and easily available across Asia,” said Dr Chris R Shepherd, regional director of Traffic in South-east Asia.

The report recommends that CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) authorities and parties to the Convention take appropriate steps to assist countries in addressing the issue and to close illegal bear farms.

In its research methods, the researchers sent formal requests for bear seizures to relevant CITES Management Authorities in 22 Asian countries or territories. Data on seizures were also obtained from other sources, including seizure records from Traffic and various NGOs.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority said it was aware of Traffic’s report and was studying it. Adding that most species of bears are highly endangered and protected under CITES, the authority said trade in bear and their bile products for primarily commercial purposes is generally prohibited.

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