Going on vacation is one of the most delightful times that you could ever experience. Whether you are vacationing to a tropical rain forest resort or to the beautiful ocean, it’s easy to forget about important issues such as, endangered species and which souvenirs you should avoid bringing back home.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which is also known as the Washington Convention (CITES), is a treaty that was adopted several years ago aiming to ensure the protection of over 30,000 species of plants and animals. CITES has been active throughout the years to ensure the protection of the wild life, sadly, not everyone is aware of their organization.
Common items that are brutally taken from animals and habitats are: tortoise shell, ivory, whale oil, rhino horns, animal bones, dried starfish, coral, shark teeth and jaws, and conch shells. Even if you don’t go out of your way to get these items (i.e. hunt or intentionally take) chances are that someone has, and they have intentions of selling it to you for money. An important fact to remember is that just because an item is for sale doesn’t mean it’s legal to buy. Sadly, many unknowing tourists fall victim to this each year. Innocent endangered animals are poached each year for things such as: handbags, traditional remedies, wines, fur, meat and exotic foods, or to be mounted on a wall. During this process, many endangered animals are badly hurt or end up paying with their lives, just so that they can supply someone a handbag or tusks to be mounted elsewhere.
Exotic birds are not meant to be house pets and their feathers are not meant to be plucked just so that you may have a souvenir. Taking a species directly out of the ocean is not OK either, that is their home and a chance of survival after being taken away from their habitat is very unlikely. Even dead marine life should be avoided, long after a marine animals’ death, they still serve a purpose. Items such as corals and conch shells serve as shelter to threatened marine life. You can help to save endangered animals by being conscious of your purchases. You should take the time to find out about local wildlife laws or even search the Internet about wildlife purchases.
Whether an animal is living or dead, more than likely, it’s not OK to take it from the environment that it was already in, as a souvenir. If you have second thoughts upon purchasing a souvenir, then most likely it’s definitely not OK. Going to beautiful environments prompts us to want to bring a piece of it back, it’s only natural; but bring back a traditional souvenir, such as a t-shirt, magnet or a beautiful picture, by doing so, you may be saving an endangered animal. This may also save you a lot of time, if you’re outside of the United States, for the fact that all of your items are subject to being checked when you re-enter the country. If one of your souvenirs are illegal, you could face jail time or pay a hefty fine, even if you didn’t know that the item was illegal to have.