Thursday, August 16, 2007


Warning over wildlife souvenirs
Wildlife campaigners are asking British holidaymakers not to buy any souvenirs abroad which they think may have been made from a protected species.

The conservation charity WWF says purchasing items such as coral and elephant ivory carvings is catastrophic for wildlife, as well as illegal.

UK customs confiscated 163,000 illegal wildlife trade items - many made from endangered species - in the last year.

Oriental medicine topped the list of seizures made - with 97 in a year.

Some of these medicines had been prepared using parts of animals such as tigers, rhinos and sea horses.

HM Customs and Excise made 44 seizures of snake and lizard products such as handbags and shoes between 2006-2007, and 39 seizures of similar crocodile and alligator products.

The WWF's warning comes at the height of the holiday season, as thousands of British tourists head for numerous countries.

'Near extinction'

It said tourists should consider carefully their choice of souvenir and whether it was likely to have been made out of endangered flora or fauna.

1. Oriental medicine
2. Snake and lizard products
3. Alligator and crocodile items
4. Plants, such as orchids
5. Live reptiles
Source: WWF

Heather Sohl, wildlife trade officer at WWF, said the message was "if in doubt - don't buy".

"Many tourists could be unwittingly helping to push some of the world's most endangered species to the brink of extinction - all for the sake of an exotic souvenir.

"Although the latest figures indicate that some illegal wildlife trade items are being brought in by wildlife criminals, the majority appear to be innocently brought back by holidaymakers as souvenirs."

The charity said that, as well as species such as elephants and turtles, many corals, reptiles and orchids were also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The WWF wants any suspicious items seen at home or abroad which may be linked to the illegal wildlife trade to be reported using its dedicated hotline on 01483 426111.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/08/16 04:18:08 GMT