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16 Aug 07
Tourists Fuelling Endangered Wildlife Trade
LONDON - Coral, ivory and snakeskin souvenirs brought home by unwitting British tourists are helping to push endangered species closer to extinction, environmental group WWF said on Thursday.
Traditional Chinese medicines made from endangered tigers, rhinos and seahorses also come top of WWF's blacklist of illegal holiday souvenirs.
"Although the latest figures indicate that some illegal wildlife trade items are being brought in knowingly by wildlife criminals, the majority of seizures appear to be items innocently brought back by holidaymakers as souvenirs," said Heather Sohl, wildlife trade officer at WWF.
"Our message is: if in doubt, don't buy."
The group warns that at the height of the holiday season some tourists may try to bring home live snakes, iguanas and chameleons as household pets, while others attempt to transport protected plants such as orchids from abroad.
British customs officials confiscated more than 163,000 illegal wildlife trade items during the last year, many made from endangered species, WWF said.
BBC 16 Aug 07
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.
Customs confiscated 163,000 illegal wildlife trade items - many made from endangered species - in the last year. Oriental medicine topped the list, with 97 seizures made, said the WWF.
Some of these medicines had been prepared using parts of animals such as tigers, rhinos and sea horses. There were 44 seizures of snake and lizard products such as handbags and shoes, 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.
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.
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.
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