Every year, tourists bring souvenirs to Switzerland that are made from protected animal and plant species, such as ivory carvings, corals, turtle shells, feathers, woods, etc., even though their importation is only allowed with valid documents or is even entirely prohibited. Many animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction and are therefore protected by the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or by national laws. The export and import of live specimens as well as products from these species are strictly regulated and in certain cases even prohibited. The export and import of live specimens, but also of products of such species, is strictly regulated and in some cases even banned. Violations can lead to confiscation at customs and even criminal proceedings.
Moreover, tourists cannot rely on merchants to inform them about existing permit requirements or prohibitions and must therefore make sure to ask the competent authorities in advance whether the import and export of such goods is permitted and what documents are required. The Federal Veterinary and Food Safety Office (FVO) provides some information on its website.
However, correctly issued CITES papers do not guarantee that the animal is treated in a species-appropriate manner because CITES only aims to protect species as a whole and is not an actual animal welfare act. The Stiftung für das Tier im Recht (TIR) therefore recommends that tourists entirely abstain from acquiring souvenirs made of wild animal and plant species.