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.