Demand for illegal products made from endangered species fuels wildlife crime and devastates populations of elephants, marine turtles, rhinos and tigers, among other species as witnessed recently in Kenya.
Fortunately the world’s biggest trade conference (CITES) recently passed a number of landmark resolutions to protect a number of endangered animals. Even so as a traveler, you have tremendous power to decrease the demand for illegal products by making informed purchases. Your purchases at home and abroad have a profound impact on wildlife.
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 Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda or my home country to bring this item home?
Avoid buying illegal products by following these tips:
GOOD CHOICES: HANDMADE ARTS AND CRAFTS
Support local communities and artisans by purchasing environmentally friendly items not made from animal or plant products.
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, narwhals, and seals.
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.
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: CORAL
If you plan to bring it home from overseas, make sure you find out if you need a CITES permit. If overseas, ask the retailer if the coral was imported with the necessary CITES permit.
DON’T BUY: MEDICINALS
Those made from rhino, tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, or musk deer are prohibited.
DON’T BUY: LIVE MONKEYS AND APES
Don’t buy a live monkey or ape overseas for a pet. Kenyan 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: 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: 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.
BUY VERY CAREFULLY: ORCHIDS, CACTI AND CYCADS
Some are prohibited or require permits.
“You can help save nature by asking basic questions and getting the facts before you buy something. The best piece of advice I have for you is if you’re in doubt, don’t buy it.”-Crawford Allan, Director, TRAFFIC North America