Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1995-11 "From Forest to Pharmacy"

November, 1995
From Forest to Pharmacy
published by
The Humane Society of the United States
The Humane Society of Canada
Humane Society International
written by
Peter Knights
Investigative Network
Washington, DC

The world’s bears face a life on the run in a shrinking world: their habitats are destroyed to make way for humans; they are killed as nuisance animals if they infringe on human territory; they are hunted down for trophies; and they are increasingly butchered for their meat and paws to supply the exotic meat trade, and for their gall bladders to supply traditional medicine - the same trade that devastated rhino populations for their horns and tiger populations for their bones. . . .

Of the world’s eight species of bears, only the Giant panda has not been targeted for its galls. galls from every other species have been found in trade. Tue world’s leading bear scientists view the gall trade as “a significant threat “ to the survival of the Asiatic Black bear, the Sloth bear and the Brown bear of Asia. Polar bear galls . . . Grizzly bear galls were found in trade by investigators in Canada and the USA . . .

With the lifting of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the former Soviet Union, once healthy Russian Brown bear populations are virtually defenseless against poaching. . . .

Destruction of Russian bears appears to be buying some time for North American bears, although poaching specifically for body parts is indeed increasing in Canada and the USA, according to wildlife enforcement officers. Just over half of the 40,000 bears hunted legally each year in North America are killed in Canada.

In 1994, US government officials (e.g. John Doggett, head of US Fish and Wildlife Service, proceedings of the International Symposium on the Trade in Bear Parts, 1994) estimate that for each bear killed legally, another bear is poached. Some experts (L. Slobodian, Edmonton Sun, 1994) even estimate that two or more are poached for each legal kill. In truth nobody knows, but the numbers of convictions, which represent a tiny proportion of the activity, suggest the poaching is widespread. . . .

The poachers are mainly Caucasian and, according to official intelligence, are often involved with other crimes such as drug smuggling and gun running. The illegal profits of wildlife poaching in Canada rank third after drugs/tobacco/liquor smuggling. . . .

It was estimated in 1991 by a federal wildlife trafficking expert that “at least 100 poachers are slaughtering more than 3,500 bears a year” in the Canadian province of British Columbia alone. . . .

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