Freeing the Bears
Freedom from incarceration and torture of bile bears caged throughout Asia in bile ‘farms’ is a sad and ongoing battle in which Ngaio engages trying to raise awareness on the international front online & via the publication of articles in trade journals. She presented one of these papers at the ‘TCM and Animal Protection’ symposium in Toronto Canada in November 2005 sponsored by WSPA. “I keep encountering a silence when these bears are being discussed. I suspect because people are so horrified by this reality and feel helpless to do anything about it. We assume the battle is too great and that we are helpless. I am working to break this silence. I want everyone to know that as an individual there is something you can do to help these poor bears”. As with all patterns and cycles of illness/disharmony, the first step is recognizing the problem.
Practical ways you can help to bring about positive change
If you are a member of the public and use Chinese herbal medicine:
- Inquire if your herbal formula contains bear bile or gall products, endangered species or substances procured cruelly. This goes for both tailor-made and over-the-counter-preparations. Doing this you are giving the message to your herbalist that it’s not ok to use these products and also communicates that as a member of the public you are aware of this issue and giving it priority. You are ‘voting with your mouth’, so to speak
- If you are a member of the public and in your country there is no accreditation system of Chinese herbalists who do not use endangered species in their preparations, why not telephone or even better, write to the main TCM associations and ask them to initiate an accreditation system? This is very powerful. By the way, the Sun Bears we are concerned with in the farms are an endangered species http://www.wcwtinternational.org/endangeredbears.htm In Australia AACMA have established: http://www.acupuncture.org.au/Endangered_Species_Certification_Scheme.aspx
If you are a practitioner:
- Educate yourself on which herbal substances are endangered species or procured cruelly and source their possible botanical substitutes, of which we know there are many
- Don’t prescribe endangered species or substances procured cruelly in your herbal preparations. Make sure your patients know you don’t, and why
- Encourage people to always ask if their herbs, both over-the-counter and prescribed, contain endangered species
- Ask your national registering body in writing, to devise and implement some kind of eco-certification nationally, re non-use of endangered species if they don’t already
If you are a teacher:
- Educate your students on the above points. Make it part of the curriculum. Today’s students are tomorrows practitioners.