Danes return home with banned goods

Many Danes end up buying products made from endangered species while on vacation, often unaware that they may be illegal to bring back home.

As Danes return from their summer holidays, many bring home souvenirs or presents from their time abroad that turn out to be prohibited goods.

Last year, charges were pressed against 255 individuals whose luggage contained products made out of endangered species, such as snakeskin products or medicines made from rare plants.

Maj Friis Munk, a biologist at the Danish Nature Agency, told TV2 that it is particularly snake, alligator and crocodile products such as bags and shoes that travellers are caught with.

“For instance, people buy spirits with snakes in them or expensive bags made from python or alligator skin, typically from Florida,” Munk said.

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Natural medicines from Southeast Asia are another popular group of items that people return home with, and many do not realise that they are sourced from endangered animals, plants or corals.

Bringing home such goods without a special permit is in violation of the so-called Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (aka CITES, or the Washington Convention), a multilateral treaty passed in 1975 to protect endangered plants and animals.

Roughly 5000 animal species and an additional 28,000 species of plants are included in the convention, the vast majority of which require a special permit to be cleared through customs while others are outright banned for import.

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“Essentially it’s the travellers themselves who have to read up on the rules. If you are out traveling and in doubt about whether you can bring an item home, we recommend that you don’t,” Carsten Parelius, a customs agent at Copenhagen Airport told TV2.

Some types of species which are classified as prohibited goods in the convention are:

Predatory birds
Large seashells

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