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August 27, 2010 / V A Nichols

INDIA: ‘Don’t Buy Trouble’

New Delhi, India, 24th August 2010TRAFFIC India has released four brand new Public Service Announcements (PSAs ) as part of its ongoing “Don’t Buy Trouble” campaign that advises tourists to be careful of what they buy as souvenirs during their travels to India.  The message comes in the form of four eye-catching posters:

FREE!!! A pair of handcuffs and up to seven years in jail with every ivory product: When you buy products such as statues, jewelry and other items made from ivory, you actually help pay for the slaughter of an elephant in the wild. Possession of or trade in ivory products/derivatives is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a hefty fine. Think. Kill your desire to indulge.

FREE!!!A striped black and white suit and up to seven years in jail with every Shahtoosh shawl purchase: Two or three Chirus (Tibetan Antelope Panthalops hodgsonii) are killed to make one Shahtoosh shawl.  Purchase of such a shawl is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a hefty fine. Think. Kill your desire to indulge.

FREE!!!A trip with up to seven years in jail with every purchase of protected corals, seashells, giant clams and other marine species: When you buy protected marine species and their products, you are actually buying souvenirs that contribute to the wanton destruction of our marine ecosystem.  Possession of or trade in protected marine species is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a hefty fine. Think. Kill your desire to indulge.

FREE!!! Up to seven years accommo-dation in a prison cell with the purchase of any item made of protected reptile skins: Watch out. A handbag, a pair of shoes, a watch strap or any other leather accessory that you buy may be made out of skin of a protected reptile species. Possession of or trade in products made from protected reptile species is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a hefty fine. Think. Kill your desire to indulge.

Targeted at domestic and foreign tourists, the posters send a clear message that it is not only the poachers and traders of endangered wildlife who are liable for punishment under India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, but also those who purchase and use such items. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

The campaign includes a video:

Samir Sinha, Head of TRAFFIC India, said: “In the eyes of the law, the end consumer is as much a partner in wildlife crime as the trader or the poacher.

“Organized transnational illegal wildlife trade has taken a heavy toll on our flora and fauna.

“Tourists who inadvertently or otherwise become a party to this trade only end up fuelling the demand. As such, their awareness and co-operation is invaluable in curbing this illegal trade.

“Through these posters, TRAFFIC India hopes to drive home the message 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. Therefore, if in doubt, don’t buy”.

The posters have been created by Titus Upputuru, Saatchi & Saatchi. He said, “We are happy to work with TRAFFIC India to spread awareness about this threat to our natural diversity. We hope audiences take the message seriously and join in to curb illegal wildlife trade”.

The “Don’t Buy Trouble” campaign has been running successfully at airports, hotels/resorts and other significant tourist hotspots in the form of hoardings, posters, film, leaflet etc. It has received tremendous support and response from various audiences and especially the media since its launch in 2008.

Kudos to India’s TRAFFIC campaign!

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