You’re having the best vacation of your life – so it’s only natural that you want to bring home souvenirs. But if you’re not careful, you might be putting your idyllic vacation spot in danger. Unfortunately, far too many souvenirs are made from protected species of native wildlife, and purchasing them undermines the conservation efforts of local governments. Worse still, methods for catching and killing wildlife are often cruel, inhumane and life-threatening for game wardens who try to protect these animals from poachers.
Here are a few examples of souvenirs to avoid on your next vacation:
Traditional Asian Medicines
Some of the products contain parts of endangered wild animals. On Asian bear farms, bile is painfully extracted from captive bears in order to create traditional medicines, and some non-traditional items such as shampoos and wines. The use of tiger bone and rhino horn in traditional remedies has left these species critically endangered.
Jewelry and Ornamental Objects with Seashells
Over-harvesting of seashells has pushed some species, like the magnificent Queen Conch, to the brink of extinction.
Birds & their Feathers
Wild birds have been illegally poached and trafficked for decades with many species now endangered. Beware of live birds offered for sale as pets as well as mounted birds, feathers, or bird nests as these are often illegal to transport home.
Souvenir Photos with Captive Wildlife
Don’t commemorate your trip by having your picture taken with a chimp, lion cub, bear, or other captive wild animal. They are frequently stolen from the wild as babies and kept in inhumane conditions. Often the mothers are killed for trophies or for bushmeat.
For more on this topic read Sharanya’s exciting account of souvenir shopping in the Dominican Republic: She Sells Illegal Seashells by the Seashore.