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

FINDING A CURE FOR THREATENED SPECIES


26 March 1999

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has announced a concerted campaign to stop endangered animals and plants being used as alternative medicines.

The announcement comes as herbal medicos meet with wildlife conservationists in Melbourne tomorrow to discuss ways of combating the use of rare and threatened species in the $1 billion a year alternative medicine industry.

Senator Hill said the Federal Government was determined to stop species such as tigers, bears, rhinos, leopards and turtles ending up in medicine bottles.

"Over the past three years Australian authorities seized some three thousand traditional medicine products which contained or claimed to be derived from endangered plants or animals such as these," Senator Hill said.

"It's estimated more than 57 per cent of Australians used alternative medicines during the past year and the number is growing. Industry growth and species survival are now well and truly on a collision course."

Senator Hill said the Federal Government was addressing the problem through improved public education and tightened regulations.

"Parliament has just passed legislation so that anyone who imports, exports or possesses a traditional medicine product represented as being sourced from an endangered plant or animal is liable to be prosecuted."

Senator Hill said Environment Australia would be taking a more active role in raising public awareness including taking part in The Healthy People, Healthy Wildlife symposium at RMIT University.

"Events such as this can encourage a better understanding between groups associated with traditional medicine practices and wildlife conservation," Senator Hill said.

Contact:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0411 128 582
David Kay (Environment Australia) 02 6274 2240
At the symposium: Amanda Nickson (Traffic-Oceania) 0413 274 217

Commonwealth of Australia