Police in north-central Vietnam have inspected a private residence, after receiving a report with photo and video evidence claiming that bears are being kept illegally at the site, though the search showed no evidence of the animals.
The result of the raid on the house owned by a man only known as C. was a disappointment for Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), a non-governmental organization for nature conservation and environmental protection, which claimed to have obtained adequate proof that bears are being illegally caged there.
ENV said it had been told that C. was caging five bears, two of them cubs, at his house in Quynh Luu District, Nghe An Province, and that the man had no documents proving the mammals came from a lawful source.
The NGO also claimed the animals did not have microchips.
Micro-chipping is part of the Vietnamese government’s 2005 initiative to phase out the nationwide captivity of bears by requiring farmers to keep the mammals until the creatures die and prevent the birth of new cubs.
ENV managed to collect some pieces of evidence, including photos showing the bears in cages at the residence.
On September 18, ENV reported the case to the provincial government and environmental crime police, and supplied their collected information and evidence about the captivity to authorities the following day.
|Two chickens are seen in the cages Education for Nature – Vietnam claims to be also for keeping bears. Photo: Education for Nature – Vietnam|
Police officers began their inspection on September 27, not into the house tipped off by ENV, but a licensed bear farm in the area.
Officers only came to C.’s house on September 29, or ten days since they received the ENV report. At the location, police officers found only two chickens, four spotted deer and several dogs.
To complicate the matter, Nguyen Manh Cuong, vice-chairman of the Nghe An forest protection department, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that two bears were found at the site.
However, Cuong asserted that the bears both carried microchips, leading to the conclusion that no illegal bear raising was seen at the house.
Disappointed by the results, ENV doubled down on their claim by stating that the house owner looked the same as the person in the video it had provided, and the cages completely matched those shown in the video as well.
“We’re deeply disappointed,” said ENV deputy head, Nguyen Phuong Dung.
Dung underlined that the verification of information about illegal bear raising required a great deal of time and sweat from ENV and even posed a threat to the organization.