I’ve noticed a couple of comments about why this conference is being held in Georgia – well, the geographical location is not just a coincidence!
Georgia is considered to be a crossroad between the West and the East and choosing to host here is a symbol of the purpose of this conference; to promote the exchange of information between bear specialists from the West and the East in equal measure.
In doing so they can share information on how to find the best way to establish how many bears are living in the wild, what threats they face and how best to preserve their habitat.
This is exactly what the host organisation, NACRES(Georgian Centre for Biodiversity Conservation and Research) is working on in Georgia.
The IBA normally holds a conference every two years, but the 2008 Georgian-hosted event was dramatically put on hold when the country was suddenly plunged into conflict with Russia that summer.
In a show of solidarity to NACRES, the IBA chose to wait and hold the conference in 2010.
WSPA has a ten-year history of contact with NACRES, when the two organisations worked together to try and find a solution to bear cubs being taken from the wild and being used as pets or tourist attractions in the late nineties.
Unfortunately this issue has still not been fully resolved and bears are still seen in cages around the country, but we hope that by holding this prominent conference in Georgia it will persuade the host government to offer more protection to bears in the wild.
This conference is also giving bear specialists from far and wide the chance to participate in some exciting workshops to discuss the issues of human bear conflicts and an issue WSPA has been heavily involved with – rescued bear care in bear sanctuaries.