WWF warns: Exotic holiday souvenirs harm the environment and are punishable

Turtle (Photo: Tui).
Turtle (Photo: Tui).

WWF warns: Exotic holiday souvenirs harm the environment and are punishable

Turtle (Photo: Tui).
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With the start of the holiday season, the environmental organization WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is reminding people of the negative impact that buying exotic souvenirs has on the flora and fauna. The WWF souvenir guide is intended to provide guidance to travelers and warn against possible criminal offenses when importing such souvenirs. Shell necklaces, shark teeth or photos of exotic animals in cages may seem harmless, but they contribute to pushing endangered species further to the brink of extinction.

WWF species protection expert Georg Scattolin emphasizes the dangers posed by such souvenirs: "What attracts people on the beach or at exotic markets as a harmless memento contributes to pushing endangered species further to the brink of extinction." Despite legal regulations and educational work, the demand for such souvenirs remains high. Even protected species continue to be processed into souvenirs or misused for tourism purposes.

The list of problematic souvenirs is long: carvings, jewelry and decorative items made of ivory, tortoise shell or protected woods are particularly frequently confiscated memorabilia. Coral and jewelry or art objects made from it, leather goods made from protected reptile species or fur products are also affected. These souvenirs contribute significantly to the destruction of nature. For example, 25 million seahorses are killed every year for souvenir production, and more than a million crocodiles and monitor lizards lose their lives.

Legal consequences

Travelers who bring such souvenirs home not only risk having their souvenirs confiscated, but also high fines and, in extreme cases, prison sentences. Violations can result in fines of up to 80.000 euros and prison sentences of up to five years. Georg Scattolin therefore strongly advises against buying animal or plant-based souvenirs: "You're only on the safe side if you don't buy plant or animal-based souvenirs."

Threat from consumption of rare species

In addition to souvenirs, the WWF also warns against the consumption of rare and endangered species on the menus of many holiday destinations. The high fish consumption during the high season cannot be sustainably met, which is why supposedly local, fresh catches often come from farms or the Far East. In addition, many endangered species such as sharks or rays end up hidden on the menus. In Italy, for example, shark is often sold as swordfish, although shark species in the Mediterranean are heavily overfished. In Croatia, "shark burgers" are even openly advertised.

WWF recommendations

The environmental protection organization therefore recommends that people in holiday regions increasingly opt for vegetarian alternatives, which are often just as traditional and tasty. In Mediterranean countries in particular, there are a variety of vegetarian dishes that are also part of the regional cuisine and reduce the ecological footprint of the holiday.

Adhering to these recommendations not only protects the environment, but also contributes to the conservation of endangered species and prevents possible legal consequences. The WWF appeals to travelers' awareness: "By making conscious decisions, vacationers can make a major contribution to protecting nature and securing the future of endangered species."

Buying exotic souvenirs and consuming rare animal species on vacation not only harms the environment, but can also have serious legal consequences. Travelers should therefore consciously avoid such souvenirs and foods. The WWF souvenir guide offers valuable guidance. Only through sustainable behavior can we help protect endangered species and preserve nature.

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