The contest, which is open to all youths, aged between 11 and 17 years old, asks contestants to write letters to bears owners, persuading them to voluntarily hand over their captive bears to rescue centres. The letter must be handwritten and not exceed 500 words. Each participant can submit more than one entry to the administrator board of his school, which in turn will select a maximum of 10 outstanding letters to send to ENV.
The deadline is before March 15, 2019. Winners of the competition will be announced and awarded in September the same year.
ENV Deputy Director Nguyen Phuong Dung said it is time to exert more pressure on bear owners, forcing them to give up bear captivity.
The contest provides a venue for the community to share their thoughts and feeling thus contributing to ending the practice, and spread the message to the public, she added.
In Vietnam, bears had been kept to extract bile, a digestive fluid used in traditional Eastern medicine, until the 1990s. Bear bile farming was outlawed in 1992 but owners were not forced to give up the bears they held, only serving to prolong the harmful practice.
According to ENV, the number of bears in captivity sharply declined between 2005 and October 2018 from 4,300 to below 800. Its survey also showed that bile demand dropped by over 60 percent between 2009 and 2014.
In 2017, the government of Vietnam agreed a plan with the non-profit group Animals Asia to shut down all bear farms in the country and move all remaining captive bears to sanctuaries.