Animal friendly holidays – problematic souvenirs and delicacies
Although most people regard animal and species protection as a matter of course back home, they oftentimes unintentionally face this problem when travelling. Not only should animal shows and direct contact with animals be avoided for reasons of animal and species protection; caution is also advised when buying souvenirs.
August 10, 2017
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.
- TIR news report from July 20, 2017 on animal welfare when travelling (in German)
- Article in Süddeutsche Zeitung from April 14, 2016 on the subject of animal suffering caused by tourism (in German)
- Short movie by the Dodo "What Not To Do When Traveling
- What measures to take when taking your pet with you on vacation (in German)
- Import and transport of animals (in German)
- Summer holidays: high season for abandoned animals (in German)