Holiday souvenirs are a reminder of the most beautiful time of the year, but can lead to nasty surprises and severe penalties on the return journey. Countless souvenirs are confiscated every year at the national borders - in particular protected animals, plants or products made from them.
"What attracts as harmless souvenirs on the beach or in exotic markets contributes to the fact that rare species are pushed to the verge of extinction," warns Georg Scattolin, conservation expert at the environmental organization WWF Austria. Over 35.000 endangered animal and plant species are protected by the Washington Convention on CITES. Their import is either completely prohibited or only permitted with complex permits. Travelers are threatened with confiscation of the forbidden memorabilia, fines of up to 80.000 euros and in extreme cases even up to five years' imprisonment. To avoid accidentally becoming a smuggler while on vacation, the WWF recommends taking a look at his Souvenir guide.
Whether corals, reptiles, traditional medical products made from animals or tropical wood carvings - you should keep your hands off many memorabilia so as not to come into conflict with the law and commit theft from nature. 25 million seahorses are killed each year for souvenir production or use in traditional Chinese medicine. More than a million crocodiles and monitor lizards give their lives every year for the fashion industry. “When it comes to exotic souvenirs, restraint is generally required. Even small and inconspicuous species can be threatened and therefore protected. If you don't buy any vegetable or animal souvenirs, you're on the safe side, ”advises WWF expert Georg Scattolin.
The List of problematic souvenirs is long. Memorabilia that are particularly frequently seized are:
- Carvings, jewelry and other decorative items made of ivory, tortoise shell or protected woods
- Various corals as well as jewelry or art objects made from them
- Living ornamental plants such as orchids and cacti or medicinal plants such as the Indian costume root
- Leather goods made from protected reptile species or fur products, e.g. B. the leopard
- Sturgeon caviar (a can of up to 125 grams and CITES label may be imported for personal use without authorization)
- Snake, scorpion or tiger bone wine
- Seahorses, giant clams and large fencing snails over and above the permitted allowances
The WWF souvenir guide informs according to the simple traffic light system which souvenirs you should avoid in any case and gives tips for good alternatives: red means “hands off”, yellow means you have to show permits, green means “recommendable”.