Vietnam May Evict Bears: Military To Remove Animals From Park To Make Room For Business Venture

By Amir Khan on November 14, 2012 2:47 PM EST

Black Bear
Maimed, blinded bears may be evicted from their homes in Vietnam (Photo: National Park Service)

Maimed, blinded bears may be evicted from their homes in Vietnam, according to  a new report by the Associated Press. The bears, rescued from the cruel bile trade in which their stomach is constantly pumped for Chinese medicine use, were brought to the national park to live out their final days, but the Vietnam military is trying to force them out.

Evicting the bears has been a possibility since July, when the Vietnam defense official wrote that Chat Dau Valley is a strategic military interest, but conservationists aren't buying. Documents show that the daughter of the park's director is looking to lease park land for a business venture, which conservations say is the real motive behind evicting the bears.

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Vietnam is biologically diverse, and houses 10 percent of the world's species. Trinh Le Nguyen, executive director of People and Nature Reconciliation said that if business keeps being put ahead of nature, Vietnam's booming wildlife population will dwindle.

"It doesn't matter if the forests are protected by law or not," Nguyen said, according to the AP. If officials and community groups are not vocal enough, "then the private sector will try (to get) wealthier and wealthier."

Tensions between developers and conservationists are high. Protected areas of Vietnam, typically under control of local officials, view areas slated for conservation efforts as cash cows. Pamela McElwee, a professor of human ecology at Rutgers University, said the country has a difficult choice to make -- money or conservation?

"Vietnam is at a real crossroads where it has to make some hard decisions about whether or not it values biodiversity conservation," she told the AP. "The majority of folks working in the protected-area system are genuinely dedicated ... but they're facing really powerful interests."

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