Two bears, raised in captivity in Ba Mun Island within the Bai Tu Long National Park in northern Quang Ninh province, were transferred to Tam Dao Bear Rescue Centre on May 6.

The centre will help the bears prepare for a return to the wild, according to Dr Tuan Bendixsen, chief representative of Animals Asia in Vietnam.

Following the transfer, the 36 remaining captive individuals will also be moved to the rescue site by the end of June, as determined by the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry in a bid to improve national bear protection.

A March report from a private farm owner in the province's Ha Long City on the death of four captive bears resulting from acute pneumonia and inflammatory bowel disease led to thorough inspections by the provincial Forest Protection Sub-Department.

The agency filed a report that revealed with the recent deaths, plus the death of four other bears on a farm in January, the number of bears in captivity has fallen from several dozen to only five.

Local officials noted the ongoing spate of bear deaths began in 2014 with 106. So far this year, dozens more have died.

In several reports, it is clear that even after exploiting the bears for years, taking bile from their gall bladder that tourists flocked to consume, farm owners are not willing to hand the exhausted animals over to the authorities for adequate care. The pressing issue now requires drastic measures from local authorities to address.-VNA