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Rough guide to the wrong souvenirs

Rough guide to the wrong souvenirs

作者:雍门妍  时间:2019-03-01 04:04:00  人气:

By ADRIAN BARNETT Travellers passing through Gatwick and Heathrow airports will no longer be able to plead ignorance when they return home with souvenirs made from bits of endangered species. This week the World Wide Fund for Nature launched its Buyer Beware campaign to teach people how to avoid buying the wrong things on their foreign holidays. As foreign travel has increased so has the trade in exotic handicrafts. Often the raw materials for craftwork come from rare or threatened species of plants or animals. In many cases the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) makes it illegal to sell – or buy – some of the goods on offer in exotic places. It is still possible, for example, to buy trinkets made from ivory, tortoiseshell and black coral, and even furs from spotted cats, all of which are banned from trade. Goods made from reptile skins can also get the traveller into trouble. While skins from some farmed reptiles are legal, it may be impossible to tell the origin of the skin decorating, say, a pair of Texan cowboy boots. ‘If in doubt, don’t buy,’ advises Lucy Farmer of WWF. According to Crawford Allen of TRAFFIC, the trade monitoring arm of the WWF, the carving industry in Kenya has made deep inroads into stocks of the protected African blackwood, Dalbergia melanoxylon. Indian sandalwood, Santalum album, is similarly threatened. Visitors to India are often tempted to buy shawls made from shahtoosh, ‘king of the wools’, taken from the fleece of a rare Tibetan antelope called the chiru (Pantholops hodgsonii). A shawl sells in Delhi for between $3000 and $35 000. Traders tell prospective buyers that the shawls are made from scraps of fleece caught on thorny bushes. But there are no thorny bushes at the high altitudes where the chiru live. And if hunting chiru for their fleeces continues, there might soon be no antelopes either. Trade in shahtoosh is banned under CITES, yet thousands of shawls are confiscated each year from travellers around the world. ‘It shows that ignorance is a major problem,’ says James Martin-Jones of WWF. ‘Tourists often don’t know and traders often don’t care. We hope to help shoppers to make informed choices and avoid buying such souvenirs.’ The WWF also hopes that with fewer people bringing in handicrafts made from illegal materials, the Customs and Excise ‘CITES squad’ can concentrate its efforts on commercial smugglers. ‘Currently we deal a lot with souvenirs,’ says one officer at Heathrow. ‘With more time we could combat professional wildlife smuggling better.’ The international trade in living and dead wildlife is estimated at $20 billion a year – around a quarter of it illegal. Last year, customs officers at London’s airports seized 12 853 wildlife items; 6227 were ‘derivatives’, souvenirs made from carved ivory, reptile skins, coral and stuffed turtles, for example. The remainder were living animals, including chameleons ‘sneaked in’ as pets by holiday-makers returning from Africa, or plants, such as Mexican cacti and South African cycads, all of which are protected. The British Airports Authority, which runs the airports, has given the WWF free exhibition space and advertising hoardings. The WWF has produced a guide to the commonest illegal wildlife products sold at the 12 most popular holiday destinations. It has also made a video highlighting the damage done by the trinket trade. Several airlines have agreed to show the video as part of their in-flight information,