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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
20 March 2003
A fundraising campaign launched today by Humane Society International and Pets Paradise that aims to help protect Australian wildlife from smuggling has been welcomed by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp.
"Pets Paradise, the largest pet franchise in Australia, and Humane Society International (HSI) have formed a partnership to develop this excellent fundraising initiative which will play an important role in protecting Australia's unique wildlife from the threats of illegal trade," Dr Kemp said.
"The Federal Government will also play a role by working closely with HSI and Pets Paradise to determine the best way money can be raised and how this can be best spent to enhance the protection of our wildlife. The Government will also help raise public awareness on what can be done at a community level to help this very worthy cause."
Dr Kemp said a key component of the fundraising campaign is placing donation tins on the counters of 98 Pets Paradise stores nationwide.
"This exciting fundraising initiative will build on Australia's wildlife protection activities regulated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)," Dr Kemp said.
"Through Australia's wildlife trade legislation under the EPBC Act, a record number of over 7100 wildlife products were seized by Customs and Environment Australia in 2001 leading to 12 successful prosecutions. In 2000, 5500 items were seized leading to seven prosecutions, including an 18-month prison term for exporting native animals."
Species popular with smugglers include lizards, snakes and parrots such as Red-tailed black cockatoos. New Zealand, USA and Europe are among the top countries that Australian wildlife is being smuggled to.
"The illegal removal of Australian native plants or animals is extremely damaging to our natural environment, resulting in changes in population numbers, breeding rates and the balance of ecosystems," Dr Kemp said.
"Many animals also suffer greatly when illegally imported or exported to other countries. In a bid to curb smuggling, strict penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and $110,000 in fines apply under the EPBC Act for those who commit these intolerable crimes.
"I commend Humane Society International and Pets Paradise for their enthusiasm and commitment to this campaign, of which I am confident will deliver excellent outcomes in protecting our precious wildlife."
Nicky Deitz 02 6277 7640 or 0439 438 500
Jo Alston 02 6274 2894