Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the ArtsNew Zealand Department of Conservation
Avoid the illegal souvenir trap - in six languages
25 August 2010
Souvenir sellers and travellers in Pacific nations can now find out more about the strict international laws regulating how wildlife products can be taken in and out of countries - in their own language.
The If in doubt - check it out brochure provides information about the types of wildlife souvenirs travellers should be wary of, and how they can make sure they don't unknowingly break the law.
The Australian environment department and New Zealand conservation department have now translated the brochure into six Pacific languages: Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Tok Pisin, Palauan and Pidgin.
"The international trade in wildlife and wildlife products has a devastating impact on internationally threatened species, and has contributed to many species becoming threatened," Australian environment department spokeswoman Deb Callister said.
"Many holiday-makers find themselves unwittingly breaking the law by bringing home wildlife souvenirs they bought overseas, so it's crucial travellers understand what they can and can't bring home after a holiday.
"It's also important for souvenir sellers to understand the law, so they can help their customers make informed decisions, and ensure they don't sell items that could present problems for their customers."
Souvenirs like tabua (whale tooth), turtle and giant clam shells, and even some traditional medicines are made from threatened animals or contain threatened animal products that are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
About 34,000 plant and animal species are internationally protected by CITES, which controls their global trade. Import and export of CITES species is highly controlled, and bringing them into member nations as souvenirs can be illegal or may require a permit.
"Publishing this brochure in six Pacific languages promotes a consistent regional approach to the regulations around trade in wildlife products," New Zealand's Department of Conservation spokesman Andrew Bignell said.
"This is important given the high volume of people travelling within the region. It will help travellers understand their responsibilities in their own language."
To find whether you need a permit for an item you want to take in or out of a country, contact your local environment or conservation department.
CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure the international trade in wild plants and animals does not threaten species survival. Currently, 175 countries are parties to CITES, including six Pacific Island countries in the Oceania region - Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. The brochures will be distributed throughout these countries.