When Chinese wildlife blogger, Hu Donglin, heard that there were remains of bears in the hills and forests of Jilin Province in China he decided to head out and look for evidence. After posting photographs of the remains on his microblog at Sina Weibo local authorities have begun an investigation.
A team from the local police and Changbai Mountain Protection and Development Zone was dispatched to search for evidence of the poachers. Over 100 people are combing the area in the search for evidence and any further remains of bears.
Hu posted dozens of photographs of the bear remains on Sunday night and the authorities reacted quickly with the part of the search team being on site in the mountains on Monday. The rest of the team were on site Tuesday morning. [pullquote]If the case is true and we can find who killed the bears, the poachers could be sent to prison for at least 10 years,[/pullquote]
Hu heard about the bear poaching earlier this month and it took time for him to search for the bodies. Those he found included 4 black bears and a brown bear. Both species of bear has full national protection in China.
Talking to one of the national papers Donglin recalled the sight when he first found the bears.
“I was so sad and angry that national-level protected animals could suffer in this way,” Hu said, recalling when he first saw the bears’ bodies.
“Every 6 or 7 meters, there was an incomplete and decomposing bear’s corpse. They were a family, I guess.”
Each of the bear remains – 2 adults and 3 cubs – had missing paws and the gallbladder had been removed – the two most valuable parts of bears on the illegal wildlife markets of China.
Law authorities have vowed to find the poachers and deal within them harshly.
“It’s still under investigation. If the case is true and we can find who killed the bears, the poachers could be sent to prison for at least 10 years,” said Yu Changchun, an official from the forestry department of Jilin province.
Cai Hongwei, deputy director of the administration vowed that there would be a thorough investigation into the killings and has boosted patrols in the Changbai Mountains Nature Reserve where the bears were poisoned.
He promised ‘serious treatment‘ to any poacher found in the area.
Hu explained that bear paw is a delicacy in China and the gall bladder is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a range of illnesses.
Gall bladder from bears can fetch over £15 for a gramme on the black-market while bear paws can bring in over £240 a kilogramme.
Story update 2nd July 2012:
5 people have been arrested by police in connection with the bear deaths. Gallbladders and bones were seized by police at the homes of the suspects and the evidence sent to Beijing and Harbin for DNA testing.
Results are expected in about 2 weeks. If the DNA matches the remains of the dead bears at the reserve they suspects will be charged.
Story Update: 5th July 2012:
Police from Jimm have revealed that the bears had not been poisoned as first reported but had been killed with home-made bombs.
Following raids which lead to 6 people in their 40’s and 50’s being arrested the local authorities seized a homemade shotgun, 20 bullets and 2 homemade explosive devices.
Yu Changchun, an official from the Forestry Department of Jilin province, said there was strong evidence against the suspects and charges will be laid.
“We will take prompt and strict measures on the case,” Yu said.
Hu Donglin who first highlighted the case on his micro-blog said “It is a relief to me and all animal lovers. I hope the government can make more efforts on fighting against poaching in the future“.
Shanghai Daily; Alleged poaching of wild bears…
China Daily: Poachers slaughter protected bears.