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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Published 29th February 2008

“Don’t buy trouble” warns TRAFFIC India

New Delhi, India, 29th February 2008—TRAFFIC India has advised tourists to be careful what they buy as souvenirs during their travels. The message comes in the form of four eye-catching posters depicting models handcuffed next to confiscated wildlife goods, under the heading “Don’t Buy Trouble”. 


Shawls of Shame: end consumers are as much partners in wildlife crime as those who deal in or hunt protected species of wildlife.

The posters were shot by top photographer Akash Das and designed by Crossbow Designs Pvt. Ltd.

In October 2007, TRAFFIC India launched a Consumer Awareness Campaign with the release of the leaflet, “Are you committing a Crime? Think before you buy”

Targeted at domestic and foreign tourists in India, the posters deliver a clear message that end consumers are as much partners in wildlife crime as the traders or poachers who deal in or hunt protected species of wildlife. If found guilty, offenders are liable to hefty fines and up to 7 years imprisonment. 

The most commonly encountered products that are illegal under Indian law in wildlife trade are Mongoose hair, snakeskin, rhino horn, Tiger and Leopard claws, bones, skins and whiskers, Elephant tusks, deer antlers, turtle shells, musk pods, bear bile, medicinal plants, timber and caged birds such as parakeets, mynas and munias. 

Samir Sinha, Head of TRAFFIC India, commented: “Illegal wildlife trade has caused large-scale damage to our wildlife to the point where the very survival of some species is threatened. 

“Through these posters, TRAFFIC India hopes to drive home the point that souvenirs derived from endangered species of wildlife should not be treated as mementos, but rather as symbols of the wanton destruction of our natural heritage.”

Although tourists may inadvertently contribute to the illegal trade in threatened Indian wildlife, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. 

“If in doubt, don’t buy,” said Sinha. 

He added: “Wildlife in India is an integral part of our rich culture and heritage. Therefore, the onus to protect and nurture it lies with each one of us. We can simply start by saying ‘No’ to such products that may be offered to us for sale.”

TRAFFIC India hopes to gain support and co-operation from the tourism industry in disseminating this message through the “Don’t Buy Trouble” series of posters.

The posters were shot by top photographer Akash Das and designed by Crossbow Designs Pvt. Ltd.

In October 2007, TRAFFIC India launched a Consumer Awareness Campaign with the release of the leaflet, “Are you committing a Crime? Think before you buy”

The four designs, produced with support from WWF-India are:

Marine Plunder: Crime—possessing marine products protected under Indian law, such as Giant Clams, seashells and corals.
Blood Ivory: Crime—buying ivory products. Elephants in the wild are illegally slaughtered for their ivory, which is then converted into statues, jewellery and other artifacts. It is illegal in India to possess or trade in ivory from Asian or African Elephants.
Skinned Fashion: Crime—carrying a reptile skin handbag made from a species protected in India. Species of crocodiles, snakes and lizards protected under Indian law are skinned to make handbags, shoes, watch straps and other fashion accessories.
Shawls of Shame: Crime—wearing a Shahtoosh shawl without an ownership certificate. These shawls are tainted with the blood of Chiru (Tibetan Antelope), a protected species that is threatened with extinction. Between two to three Chirus are killed to make one shawl.