Take Action: Use Your Buying Power
• Don’t buy any exotic animal products like ivory carvings, shahtoosh shawls or reptile leather handbags.
• Don’t buy exotic pets. While captive-bred pets are legal, many wild-caught birds and reptiles are passed off as captive bred. Wild caught animals not only remove the animal from the ecosystem and destroy habitat during the collection process, which threatens the species’ future sustainability, but also many wild caught animals can’t survive the trip. Some experts suggest that for every one smuggled wild caught bird sold in US or European markets, nine others probably died in transit.
• Ask questions. Ask about the source of things you buy. If you’re buying a pet or live animal, ask if it’s wild caught. If it’s a product made from animal parts, ask about the source. And if the item contains palm oil or other ingredients that might destroy wildlife habitat, ask if it’s sustainably produced.
• The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a guide for travelers that lists wildlife products to avoid, such as:
o All sea turtle products – Avoid sea turtle meat, soup, eggs, cosmetics, shells, leather goods (like shoes, belts or purses) made from sea turtle skin, and tortoise shell jewelry and curios. All species of sea turtles are endangered and their international trade is prohibited.
o Ivory. Avoid raw ivory and jewelry or carvings made from the teeth of elephants, whales, walruses, narwhals, and seals.
o Furs. Avoid furs, skins and items trimmed with furs from tigers, most spotted cats like jaguars and leopards, seals, polar bears, and sea otters.
o Wildlife wools. Avoid products, like shawls, made from shahtoosh, the hair of the rare Tibetan chiru antelope.
o Primates. Avoid live monkeys and apes as pets and avoid their meat, fur or curios.
o Live birds. Avoid wild birds as pets, especially species that are often wild-caught like parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and finches. Many pet birds are caught in the wild, which depletes their populations and destroys their habitats.
o Feathers and bird parts. Avoid wild bird feathers or products made with them, mounted birds and nests.
o Reptiles and products like leather goods. Avoid protected snakes, turtles, caiman, crocodiles, and lizards as pets and also avoid their leather products. Most pet reptiles are wild-caught, which depletes populations and destroys habitats.
o Corals and shells. Avoid coral products like souvenirs, jewelry and aquarium decorations.
o Asian traditional medicines. Avoid products made with ingredients from rare animals like rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, saiga antelope, musk deer, and bear.
o Caviar. The world’s sturgeon species are increasingly at risk and trade is regulated. Caviar from certain species is completely prohibited, and watch out for fraudulently labeled caviar (purporting to be from one species when it’s from another).
o Aquarium fish. Be careful when buying fish for an aquarium. Consider the source. Many aquarium fish species are harvested in ways that threaten coral ecosystems.
o Seafood. Avoid species with depleted populations like Chilean seabass, sharks and certain grouper species. You can download seafood guides from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/download.aspx