- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2003


The United States and China are probably the main markets for wildlife products.

Some Americans are aware of this and don’t care, but others don’t know and can get in trouble. When traveling to other countries, they buy wildlife products that are legal or seem to be legal there but cannot be brought into the United States or require permits.

Every year, law enforcement officials seize thousands of illegal items from travelers, and some can be fined several hundred or even thousands of dollars, said Simon Habel, director of Traffic North America.

Some Caribbean countries offer endangered-species products. To buy such products directly contributes to the extinction of rare animals or plants. Now that the fall cruise season is beginning, Traffic and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urge American tourists to avoid buying:

All sea-turtle products.

All spotted-cat-skin products.

Leather from caiman and crocodiles, lizards and snakes.

Live birds and some wild feathers, mounted birds and skins.

Live monkeys.

Some corals and coral products.

Certain orchids, cactuses and cycads.

They also recommend asking questions before buying: What is the product made of, and where did it come from? Do I need special documents or permits to take it home? For more in formation, visit www.wwfus.org/buyer beware.

—Hazel Feigenblatt

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