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

12 July 2001


Australia has strengthened its commitment to protecting traded wildlife by joining the Global Tiger Forum, Environment Minister Robert Hill announced today.

"Tigers are hunted for their heads, skins, teeth, claws, bones and internal organs, which are used for trophies and in traditional medicines," Senator Hill said.

"This is happening despite the fact that tiger numbers have plummeted. In the early 1900s, there were an estimated 100,000 tigers throughout the world. Today, there are possibly less than 6000 and, as a result, the tiger has been listed as an endangered species.

In 1994, the Global Tiger Forum was established at a meeting in India of tiger range states, (where tigers live in the wild), with the aim of conserving tigers and their habitats.

The Forum consists of members from the range states Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Vietnam and non-range state, the United Kingdom.

Senator Hill welcomed an invitation from the Global Tiger Forum Secretariat for Australia to also join the forum.

"While our first commitment is towards conservation of Australia's own endangered animals we nevertheless want to work with developing countries within the Asia Pacific Region to assist in their conservation efforts," Senator Hill said.

"Joining the Global Tiger demonstrates the Federal Government's commitment to continue to protect these endangered species long into the future. Australia has valuable experience to share with the Forum on captive breeding for tigers, the largest member of the cat family.

"With the help of the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA), we have identified the Sumatran sub-species of tiger as an animal that we can assist through captive breeding and raising donations for its protection.

"A number of Australian Zoos successfully breed the Sumatran sub-species of tiger and are as such contributing to the long-term preservation of wild tigers. Through ARAZPA, which brings together all major Australian zoos, we are exchanging valuable information about this animal and other animals with worldwide organisations.

"ARAZPA takes part in an endangered species breeding program, which aims to ensure maximum conservation for endangered species though management practices, " Senator Hill said.

In addition, Australia actively assists in the conservation of tigers and other wildlife through very strict import controls. Australia controls the import and export of native and exotic species that are endangered or at risk of becoming endangered due to inadequate controls on trade in them and in products made from them.

Thursday, July 12, 2001
Media contact: Belinda Huppatz (02) 8237 7920 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia