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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage


11 April 1999

Australian tourists heading off to Asia have been warned not to come home with souvenir monkey skulls.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says Australian Customs officers are now finding the unusual holiday keepsakes on a regular basis.

"Australians buying monkey skulls as souvenirs are contributing to the demand for these endangered species which are being taken from the wild. The Australian Customs Service has seized 33 souvenir monkey skulls and other skeletal parts from Australian tourists over the past two years," Senator Hill said.

"There are fears that with the economic downturn in Asia, the animals are being increasingly used as food or for supplementary income.

"The skulls come from species such as the Crab-eating Macaque and the Pig-tailed Macaque. Around 50 species of primate, including monkeys, are found within the jungles of South-East Asia."

Senator Hill says Australian tourists have a responsibility to respect and protect our neighbours' endangered and vulnerable species.

"The international trade in souvenirs made from wildlife or containing wildlife products occurs around the world, often to the detriment of endangered plants and animals," he said.

"Without the appropriate permits, wildlife products, including souvenirs, will be seized by the Australian Customs Service."

Travellers wanting more information on permits or the international wildlife trade should ask their travel agent for a copy of Environment Australia's Tips for Travellers brochure.

They can also contact Environment Australia by telephone 02 6274 2294 or fax 02 6274 1921. Alternatively, they can email, or visit the web site at

Rod Bruem (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7640 or 0411 128 582
David Kay (Environment Australia) 02 6274 2240

Commonwealth of Australia