Help Stop Wildlife Crime: How to Buy Environmentally Friendly Souvenirs
February 22, 2013
This week, actor and World Wildlife Fund Board Member Leonardo DiCaprio helped launch WWF’s “Hands Off My Parts” initiative. The initiative represents a week-long effort tied to WWF’s Stop Wildlife Crime campaign to raise awareness and mobilize support to end the illegal trade of wildlife.
As a traveler, you have tremendous power to decrease the demand for illegal products by making informed purchases. Your purchases abroad and at home have a profound impact on wildlife.
Demand for illegal products made from endangered species fuels wildlife crime and devastates populations of elephants, marine turtles, rhinos and tigers, among other species. The United States is not innocent either, a recent New York Times article cited two recent cases of illegally trafficked ivory and rhino horn in New York and California.
Avoid buying illegal products by following these tips:
Don’t Buy: Ivory, raw and carved
The illegal trade in elephant ivory has led to a poaching crisis in Africa. Illicit ivory markets remain one of the greatest threats to elephants today. Don’t fuel demand by buying ivory. Avoid raw or carved ivory from the teeth or tusks of elephants, whales, walruses, narwhals, and seals.
Don't Buy: Tiger and rhino products
All international trade of rhino and tiger products, whether used in folk or traditional medicine, as souvenirs or for "good luck" charms, is illegal.
Don’t Buy: All sea turtle products/turtle shell
Six of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered or critically endangered. All international trade in marine turtle products is banned, so avoid those hair clips, bracelets and souvenirs.
Don’t Buy: Live monkeys and apes
Don’t buy a live monkey or ape overseas for a pet. U.S. health laws prohibit such imports. Most primate species are protected, so you should also avoid curios, furs, or meats from these animals.
Don’t Buy: Medicinals
Those made from rhino, tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, or musk deer are prohibited.
Buy Very Carefully: Crocodile skin and snakeskin products
While it's likely your belt, bag or shoes comes from captive-bred populations, not wild ones, check that your product has a CITES permit before you part with your cash. Certain leather products, including some made from caiman, crocodiles, lizards and snakes require permits.
Buy Very Carefully: Caviar
Without a permit, you may only import up to 125 grams (about 8 ounces) of sturgeon caviar per person per trip, but the caviar of some species like beluga is completely prohibited.
Buy Very Carefully: Coral
If you plan to bring it home from overseas, make sure you find out if you need a CITES permit. In the U.S., ask the retailer if the coral was imported with the necessary CITES permit.
Buy Very Carefully: Orchids, cacti and cycads
Some are prohibited or require permits
Buy Very Carefully: Live birds and wild feathers
Most live birds, including parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and finches and wild bird feathers and mounted birds require permits.
Good Choices: Handmade arts and crafts
Support local communities and artisans by purchasing environmentally friendly items not made from animal or plant products.
Ask these questions before making a purchase:
- What is this product made of?
- Where did this product come from?
- Does the country I’m visiting allow the sale and export of this product?
- Do I need permits or other documents from this country or the United States to bring this item home?
Learn more about traveling with WWF.
Note: This article was first published by worldwildlife.org. See the original article here.