Free the Bears’ research programme was created to improve our understanding of wild bear populations and the threats they face, as well as assess and improve the welfare of the bears in our care. We partner with governments, universities, and other institutes across the world in order to end the exploitation of bears in Southeast Asia.


Preparing for release

The first step is improve the protection of bears in the wild and develop a realistic long-term strategy for the rescue and rehabilitation of confiscated bears. To achieve this goal it is essential that we determine the current status and distribution of bear populations and bear habitat throughout the region, as well as gain a better understanding of the current nature of the threats facing bears. This will enable us to monitor wild bear populations and identify areas that could one day support the release of bears back to the wild.

Wild Bear Populations

Free the Bears supports the governments in our host countries to develop methods to monitor wild bear populations. We've trained people to conduct bear sign surveys in protected areas of Cambodia and Vietnam, and conducted ground-breaking research on bear habitats in Lao PDR, where we have engaged in direct protection of wild bear populations.

Snare Patrols

In Nam Kan National Protected Area, Laos, we have employed villagers from the local community to remove snares set to catch bears and other larger animals.  In communities surrounding Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, we are working with local communities to develop and promote locally-sustainable mitigation techniques where human-bear conflict has arisen due to crop-raiding by bears.