Medicines covered in endangered species law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 November, 2000, 12:00am

Traders have been given a three-month grace period to dispose of medicines that contain parts of endangered animals, following legal changes.

An amendment to the Endangered Species Ordinance will extend protection to ingredients in medicines from Wednesday.

'Past legislation does not cover this area,' said Cheung Chi-sun, an endangered species protection officer with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

'We are amending it in order to meet international standards,' said Mr Cheung.

Also included in the new amendment is a set of tougher rules governing artificially grown endangered plant species.

Officials say it is harder to crack down on illegal trading in endangered plants when people claim they grow them in their garden.

Some of the artificially grown plants that will fall under the new amendment to the ordinance are widely traded in Hong Kong.

Among these are types of orchids and cactuses.

But Mr Cheung said trade in those areas would be controlled by issuing licences rather than implementing bans.

The punishment for not getting a licence or other transgressions can be fines as high as $5 million and two years' imprisonment.

Animals whose parts should not be used in medicines include gorillas, pandas, asiatic black bears, tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses, tibetan antelopes, sea turtles, pangolins, cobras, bird-wing butterflies, rhea birds, hippopotamuses and seals.