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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

31 July 2006

Minister welcomes imminent safe passage of Asian elephants

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has welcomed news that the transfer of the Thai elephants from Thailand to Australia is successfully underway.

Senator Campbell said he was pleased the elephants were finally on their way to Australia, after protesters delayed their departure from Thailand last month.

The elephants will soon arrive safely at the Cocos Islands where they will spend three months in quarantine before heading to new purpose-built enclosures at zoos in Sydney and Melbourne.

Senator Campbell acknowledged the co-operation between the Australian and Thai governments in helping to secure the safe passage of the eight elephants.

"I am pleased the Asian elephants are finally on their way and look forward to their arrival in Sydney and Melbourne towards the end of the year," Senator Campbell said.

"This is great news for the zoos' elephant breeding programme, which we all hope will help to ensure the future survival of the species.

"The zoos' breeding programme is a significant and exciting attempt to breed a species that is endangered and for which the long-term survival is under continued threat.

"With fewer than 50,000 Asian elephants remaining in the wild, a number of activities including increased urban development, habitat loss and poaching threaten the existence of the species, particularly in south east Asia," he said.

In July 2005 the Minister approved an application from the zoos to import eight Asian Elephants, following a comprehensive assessment of the application under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia