Endangered species abroad - your responsibilities
Many of the things you can do to be greener on holiday will be the same things you can do at home. But there are also some extra things too, like thinking twice before buying gifts made from endangered species.
Endangered animals and plants
Some gifts and foods available in certain countries can be made from endangered plants or animals, for example, animal skins, ivory, orchids, coral or ramin (a type of tropical hardwood).
It may be hard to tell the difference between permitted and non-permitted goods, or to find out when you buy something whether it came from an endangered source. Check before you go away, but if in doubt avoid buying animal and plant gifts.
Some products (like handbags, shoes and jewellery) made from certain species are totally banned – including some reptile skins and marine turtle shells. Bringing back ‘traditional medicines’ containing products such as tiger bone, rhino horn, deer musk or some endangered plants is also prohibited. Bringing back plants, such as orchids and cacti, may also be prohibited.
Who is looking out for endangered species?
Products from endangered species can come from all over the world
The Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (more commonly known as CITES) aims to protect certain plants and animals by regulating and monitoring their international trade.
The UK strongly supports CITES, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for making sure its rules are applied. It’s not easy to know which souvenirs or gifts to avoid buying and Defra's 'Souvenir Alert' campaign - in co-operation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-UK) - aims to raise awareness of the CITES controls amongst travellers.
Permits - get in contact
If you’re considering buying exotic wildlife souvenirs abroad, check with Animal Health before you leave the UK. Protected animals and plants or products containing them require an import permit. Before issuing an import permit Animal Health will check that you have an export permit from the country in which you bought the goods. You must have both documents before CITES-listed animals and plants or products containing them can be brought back into the European Union (EU).
Trade in dead specimens of plants and animals and any parts derived from listed species are controlled so that trade does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild. You may bring back souvenirs made from certain CITES species where regulated international trade is allowed, provided they are for your personal use and you have a CITES permit from the country of export.
CITES goods imported without valid permits may be seized by Customs on your return and you could face an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment. To check whether trade in something is regulated or banned under CITES, contact Animal Health’s Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service.
Telephone: 44 (0)117 372 8691/8774
Fax: 44 (0)117 372 8206