Don’t become that dreadful Souvenir Hunter on your wildlife holiday!
Many tourists are creating a dismal and dark problem for the environment when they use the wildlife trade to fund their trips. In 2009 police and custom officials seized two tortoises they believed were indigenous to Corfu.
The detective in charge of this case said the problem worsens when people take ‘one or two’ animals from their chosen holiday destination, to be used as family pets or to be sold to cover the costs of the holiday!
This has an impact on wildlife. Also avoid taking pictures with baby animals shown by sellers to tourists, as they have most likely been taken away from their mothers, then drugged, their teeth removed, so you can photograph them.
Never buy trinkets made from turtle shell, seashells and hardwoods, especially ebony wood. Removal of shells negatively impacts on the marine environment, says Rosaleen Duffy in her book Nature Crime.
In the Maldives tourists are told to please leave the shells alone on the beaches which are needed by the local hermit crabs!
Collecting sea shells even only one, has permanent deleterious effects on the environment! Seashells, home to valuable marine molluscs and to hermit crabs have been collected for centuries. Due to overcollection many molluscs have been rooted out. Hermit crabs scurry around with their soft parts unprotected, forced to use unsuitable bits of debris! They are found hiding inside pen lids and dials from radios! Heartrending.
Because tourists grab up shells from the beaches, the local hermit crabs find it difficult to find a suitable home. As they grow, they look for empty shells which the tourists had taken away! Hence the poor crabs scurry around looking for anything to crawl into for protection!
In 2009 a total of 1,441 marine turtle and 12 freshwater turtle products (mostly jewellery items) were on sale in Papua New Guinea for tourists at the airport. Even more chilling was the fact that 99 per cent of sea turtle products were made from hawksbill turtles! Shops will only sell these products if tourists buy them!
When we say no to such merciless shopping, the trade will die down!
I never buy souvenirs! Who wants peacock feather trinkets when one can dress up with one’s own washed fur?!!