The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Australia) Pty Ltd and Ors and Minister for Environment and Heritage and Ors

February 2006

EDO NSW filed proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Australia) Pty Ltd, the Humane Society International Inc and the RSPCA Australia seeking review of a decision made by the Commonwealth Environment Minister to allow the import of eight Asian elephants from Thailand to Taronga and Melbourne Zoos. The basis of the appeal is that the Minister's decision does not meet the animal welfare and conservation requirements of the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The Asian elephant species is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as critically endangered, accordingly, permits to import the species can only be granted for certain specific, non-commercial purposes. The Zoos claimed that their non-commercial purpose is conservation breeding and they also applied to the Minister for approval of their breeding program. That approval was granted.

On 6 February 2006, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal handed down its decision. The Tribunal decided that permits to import Asian elephants should be granted to the zoos subject to a far more stringent set of conditions than those originally imposed by the Environment Minister. These conditions - which primarily relate to welfare - will go a long way towards providing a much more comfortable environment for these elephants, who will spend up to 60-70 years in urban zoos.

EDO NSW is grateful for the assistance of barristers Mr S Rares SC and Ms M Allars who acted as counsel.

Decision AATA - Decision permiting importation of elephants to Australia from Thailand subject to conditions.

Decision AATA