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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

CUSTOMS SEIZURE A LESSON FOR NORTHERN TRAVELLERS


10 February 1998

Northern travellers are being warned to watch what they try and bring back in to, or take out of the country.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, north Queensland Senator Ian Macdonald, said customs has an extensive collection of snake and crocodile skin shoes, and other illegal plant and animals products which have been confiscated in ports and airports in Cairns and Townsville.

Senator Macdonald's call comes after officiating at a function in Sydney where authorities are preparing to burn off the latest seizure of illegal products.

"Lions paws, zebra skins, American Ginseng and bear bile are among the items which will be destroyed as a measure to ensure they do not end up back in the market place," he said.

"Last financial year in Australia there were approximately 4 000 seizures including collections of coral, threatened shells and animal teeth.

"It is a warning that Australia's obligations to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Flora and Fauna will be vigorously enforced."

Senator Macdonald said many of the items are seized from Australian and international tourists who are unaware of Australia's import and export regulations.

"Items of most concern are traditional Asian medicines which contain products from spectacular animals such as tigers, rhinoceros and bears," he said.

"Thousands of plants and animals are sacrificed each year to satisfy the demand. It is just one of the threats to survival of many of these species.

"Travellers must take responsibility when buying souvenirs overseas. Just because a product is for sale, it does not mean it has been taken or harvested legally."

Wildlife Protection within Environment Australia administers Australia's involvement in CITES and works closely with the Australian Customs Service and State and Territory wildlife and enforcement authorities to monitor illegal wildlife trafficking.

10 Feb

Commonwealth of Australia