India: 6 Bears Killed for Gallbladders, 5 Suspects Arrested

Six bears were killed for their gallbladders, due to the continued — yet unnecessary — use of bear bile in traditional Chinese medicine.

Forest officials have arrested five suspects in connection with the killing of six bears in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Four of the bears were killed in Garhwal and two in Kumaon region, according to the Hindustan Times. The five suspects were arrested in two separate raids, and the bear gallbladders, along with other body parts, were confiscated.

Pramjeet Singh of Kumaon forestry department said his teams would be on the lookout for wildlife traffickers.

Recovery of the bear body parts indicates that poachers are active in the state. I have asked my special patrolling teams to be on guard. More arms will be provided to our staff soon.

Sadly, bear gallbladders are in demand because the bile is still used in traditional Chinese medicine — although there is absolutely no reason to use “ingredients” sourced from bears.

The active ingredient in bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), is available as a synthetic and there are at least 50 herbal alternatives to bear bile.

In the U.S., Hawaii recently passed a law that prohibits the “purchase, sale, transportation and delivery of any item containing bear bile or gallbladders.”

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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.