On your next holiday, help stop the trade that kills
You’ve waited weeks, months, maybe even years for this holiday. You’ve worked tirelessly, went without that dessert and that new pair of jeans just to have more spending money and it’s all paid off because you are boarding the plane. Where are you off to this time? Is it somewhere unusual or exotic like India, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya or Mozambique?
….And then you’re there. You caught a glimpse of a tiger or spotted a mother rhinoceros with her calf or heard elephants trumpeting as you lay in bed one night. It’s been an amazing trip, the days have flown by and soon it’s back to the mundane routine of everyday life. How will you remember this great time? You’ve taken plenty of photos but an authentic souvenir would be perfect too!
This is the point when you have a chance to stop or support an illegal trade that is responsible for killing thousands of endangered animals each year. In fact, nearly 400 rhinoceros have been killed in South Africa alone this year. Each year tens of thousands of elephants are killed for their ivory tusks and due to poaching just 3,200 tigers still roam free through Asia. This not only contributes to the extinction of a species but also individual animals suffer greatly and are killed inhumanely.
You may have heard that traditional medicines are responsible for the demand of rhinoceros horn and tiger bones but this is not the only industry. People will still purchase ivory statues and carvings made from elephant tusk (see below), rare animal furs, and animal body parts such as teeth and claws. As long as a tourist will buy them, somebody else will be willing to kill an animal to take the tourist dollar.
But the list of things to avoid isn’t just restricted to elephant, rhinoceros and tiger products. Many endangered animals are threatened by this trade so avoid:
shark teeth & jaws
tusks or bones of whales, walruses and seals
turtle meat and eggs
I remember being in Bali just a few months ago and even in some of the nicest shopping malls you could purchase ivory statues as well as turtle shells, dried star fish and other ornamental keepsakes from the local waters. It may be just one little star fish but if everyone bought one thing, you’ve got one big problem!
On another trip when I was in Japan a friend took me to a local BBQ restaurant where you could try a huge variety of different meats cooked in traditional styles. With the menu all in foreign characters and my Japanese a little rusty, luckily I had a friend able to tell me exactly what was on the menu.
When eating out it is always great to try local food but be careful your meal isn’t supporting a trade that jeopardises the lives of endangered animals. As you peruse the menu say “no” to bush meat, shark fin soup, turtle meat and eggs, queen conch and anything else from a non-domesticated animal.
Just because something is sold doesn’t mean it is legal as well. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) protects endangered animals and prevents their trade. If you try to bring a banned item home it is likely to be seized and you could find yourself paying a hefty fine. Just look at all the items in the picture that have been seized by customs.
Your holiday is meant to be a time to get away from it all, relax and unwind. The good memories will last for years to come. Let’s just make sure that the memory sitting on your mantle, bookshelf or desk didn’t involve the inhumane suffering or killing of an animal or contribute to the animal’s extinction.
This is your chance to stop the trade that kills.
About Adam Barralet
Adam Barralet’s relationship with WWF began in 2007, when he hosted a radio show on Melbourne’s JOY 94.9. The show looking at green and environmental issues and success, regularly featured interviews with members of the WWF Australia team. While living in North America for the last two years he was involved in social media for an array of organisations concerned with animal rights to global travel as well as donating his time as a tour guide at Toronto Zoo. Now Adam is glad to be back in Australia, facilitating life skills to children, working on his first book and volunteering at Caversham Wildlife Park. He continues to run his blog, originally a spin off from his radio show.