For a full description of this series, please click here.
DAY 6: Free the Bears
Free the Bears is a rehabilitation center with rescue centers peppered throughout Southeast Asia. The mission is to rescue bears from exploitation (like circuses) and abuse (like bear bile farms), rehabilitate them, and release them back into the wild.
Free the Bears Cambodia, where I volunteered in October 2017, leases 100 hectares of land on a 2,500 hectare plot managed by the government, but can expand and lease more land as it rescues more bears. The larger 2,500 hectare plot is a wildlife rescue center, home to other animals, such as clouded leopards, gibbons, otters, boar, lions, and more. Almost all of these animals will eventually return to the wild after rehabilitation.
While Free the Bears primarily works to protect sun bears and moon bears, it also opens its doors to sloth bears, red pandas, and others. The threats facing these bears and other wildlife in Asia include habitat loss, human encroachment, exploitation for entertainment and tourism, and traditional Eastern medicine (which do not have proven value or effect).
My time spent with Free the Bears Cambodia was fulfilling and extremely informative. I recommend visiting or volunteering to anyone looking to contribute to conservation efforts in SE Asia. You can follow them on social media to keep up with their projects and sign up for their newsletter on their website.
To see a glimpse of volunteering, check out this promotional video I made following my experience there.