UK Ambassador to Laos Witnesses Handover of Two Moon Bear Cubs

Moon Bears Rescued From Illegal Widelife Trade in Laos
One of the rescued bears (photo: John Pearson)

British Ambassador to Laos, Mr. John Pearson, joined Free the Bears during the rescue of two moon bear cubs last week.

Free the Bears, with the assistance of the Government of Laos and funding from the UK Embassy, collected the animals from a private home in Vientiane Capital.

UK Ambassador John Pearson spoke with the Laotian Times regarding the handover.

“The owner of the bears voluntarily handed them over after contacting the Wildlife Crime Hotline (1601). Free the Bears collaborated with the Department of Forestry Inspection to take possession of the cubs.”

Mr. Pearson also noted that he and the Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Laos, Mr. Cashel Gleeson, were present at the handover because the truck used by Free The Bears to transport the animals was financed by the UK government.

The British Ambassador also shared his thoughts on the illegal wildlife trade in Laos.

“Personally I feel that the illegal wildlife trade is very negative,” said Mr. Pearson.

“It is depleting biodiversity around the world, for no good reason. A lot of species are facing extinction, which will make our world a much poorer place in many senses.”

The ambassador says the wildlife trade is also bad for the image Laos, which makes use of its natural resources to attract tourists. He believes fewer tourists will visit Laos if they feel that native wildlife is being hunted to extinction.

“The illegal wildlife trade is usually linked to other criminal activity, so it is bad for the security of all of us,” he added.

British Ambassador Assists Lao Government in Rescuing Two Bears
Ambassador John Pearson and Lao officials after rescuing the bears.

The British government not only supports Laos financially in tackling the illegal wildlife trade, but it also engages politically with the Lao government on the issue to provide capacity building and encourage effective legislation against the practice.

The moon bear cubs were brought to the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center in Luang Prabang province for care and rehabilitation.

According to Danielle Henry, a board member of Free the Bears, the cubs have been having fun exploring the play area at the rescue center. They will also receive all the medical treatment and the nutrition they require to grow before being released back into the wild.