Animals Asia's Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said:
"The recent meetings marked a complete change in tone. It was the first time that the provincial authorities had declared the bears would be transferred in accordance with a Prime Ministerial Directive from March. The language was very strong and bear bile farmers were left in no doubt that this was not an optional transfer."
Farmers have been informed that any attempt to transfer bears out of the province would meet prosecution while any further bear deaths prior to the rescues would not be tolerated. However, concerns over such actions will remain until the rescues are complete.
Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE said:
"This is incredible news – an enormous success for Vietnam's bears and all those around the world who have campaigned for their dignified release from the clutches of the bear bile industry. You did this.
"The rescue of these 38 bears would simply not have happened without consistent pressure from 12 embassies, the signatures from the 116,000 people around the world who voiced their opposition, and the fearless, tireless persistence of Animals Asia's staff in Vietnam who refused to let this issue be ignored. This is a victory for us all."
In November 2014, an Animals Asia vet team inspected three bile farms in the Halong Bay region of Quang Ninh province. They found bears being kept in appalling conditions, many of whom were missing limbs, while the majority were dangerously malnourished.
Initial reports advising the immediate transfer of the bears were ignored prompting Animals Asia to launch the Save the Halong Bay Bears, a campaign calling for the 49 bears on the three inspected farms to be transferred to Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre.
Since then, 30 of the inspected bears in the Halong Bay region have died - most likely due to complications arising from severe malnutrition. Today just 19 remain.
Across the province a similar decline has been observed. At the end of 2013, the province was holding 152 bears, a number which fell to 82 by late 2014 and now stands at just 38.
It is believed that more than 1,200 bears are currently held on farms across Vietnam suffering regular bile extraction - despite the practice being outlawed in 1992. The liquid, produced by the bears' gall bladders, is prized as an ingredient in traditional medicine.