Every year billions of animals are inhumanely captured and killed to provide for your entertainment, and to make products for you to buy here and around the world. It’s called the international wildlife trade, and you can help stop it by avoiding products and experiences that come from these abused animals. Use the map to learn more and sign the pledge below!
Elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, hippos, and any other wildlife you can imagine (even endangered) could be on the menu at a restaurant in a foreign country. Bushmeat is exported to countries where people consider monkey limbs or bear paws a delicacy.
Rhino horn powder is often used in traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s extremely valuable on the black market. Poachers kill or tranquilize the rhino before sawing off their horn, and some rhinos are left alive to bleed to death.
It drives the cruel and sometimes illegal slaughter of thousands of critically endangered rhinos every year.
Avoid products made from rhinoceros horn, and make sure you know what’s gone into that traditional Chinese medicine before you buy any.
Don’t buy jewelry or home décor made of dead coral, seahorses, or other marine life.
Millions of frogs are being inhumanely snatched by the millions from the wild, slaughtered, and traded around the world for their legs. This hurts their populations, impacts other wildlife, and spreads disease. Europe is the leading consumer, then the USA and Hong Kong.
Check the menu for frog or frog legs. General rule: if an item seems exotic, ask questions, or avoid it altogether.
Fur-bearing animals are painfully trapped in the wild to make coats and other clothing items.
Even where trapping and the sale of fur are illegal, animals are poached, and their fur is mislabeled, deceiving consumers who think they’re buying faux. The sale of cat and dog fur is now illegal in the U.S. and the European Union, but it can still be sold in other countries, mislabeled as gae wolf, sobaki, or Asian jackal for dog products and wildcat, goyangi, and katzenfelle for cat products.
More than 30,000 elephants were poached in 2012 for their ivory tusks, used for carvings, jewelry, piano keys, and hunting trophies. Even narwhal whales and walruses are slaughtered for ivory.
It’s a bloody, awful business, and even though the international trade in elephant ivory is banned in most countries, illegal trade is thriving.
Avoid all ivory, no matter how it’s labeled. Baby elephants will thank you for helping keep their moms alive.
Elephants, lizards, kangaroos, snakes—even sharks, rays, and sea turtles—are all caught in the wild and illegally traded or farmed in inhumane conditions to make your watch band, shoes, or bag. And they might not be labeled as coming from those animals.
Don’t be tempted to buy one of these wild animals as a pet, even if you want to “save” him. Not only might it be illegal to import him to your home country, but he’ll just be replaced with another wild animal, and the cycle will continue.
Many companies in Africa claim to contribute to conservation by offering activities like 'lion walks,' where you get to pet lion cubs. Large predators who are desensitized to humans can’t be released back into the wild so don’t really conserve anything.
Interacting with wild animals is incredibly dangerous, for you and them (they usually pay with their lives if they attack you).
As cool as it may seem, swimming with dolphins does no favors for these ocean predators whose needs can’t be met in captivity. They may have even been caught in the wild just to perform in shows or swim with humans.
Exhibiting marine mammals for entertainment is bad for them, bad for their kind, and potentially dangerous to you.
Don’t patronize places that profit from “swim with” programs (and don’t swim with the dolphins yourself). Contact local tourism authorities to oppose such facilities. Support a responsible whale-watching company instead.
Learn More about The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity
Learn More about Swim-with-the-Dolphins Attractions
Don't have your picture taken with wild animals. Speak up to restaurant owners, your tour guide, or another appropriate official. Support establishments like accredited rescue centers that offer humane alternatives to animals confiscated from the illegal pet or wildlife trade.
All over the world, animals are displayed in sub-standard zoo-like establishments. Many of them have been ripped from their habitats and trained to do unnatural tricks for tourists. These animals are often subjected to improper housing and care and receive little if any veterinary attention.
Speak up. Let your tour operator know you object to roadside zoos, encourage your travel companions to do the same. Support establishments like accredited rescue centers that offer humane alternatives to animals confiscated from the illegal pet or wildlife trade.
In some Caribbean nations, killing sea turtles for food is legal, and the meat may be sold in local restaurants. To keep the meat fresh, fishermen catch the turtles and lie them on their backs on dry land, keeping them alive but immobile, until they are ready to harvest their meat. The turtles suffer immeasurably.
Stay away from facilities that slaughter sea turtle and those that exploit sea turtles for tourist dollars instead of focusing on education and the rehabilitation of sea turtles in the wild.
Tens of millions of sharks are annually hunted to meet the demand for shark fin soup. Now bannedi n several places, “finning” involves slicing the fins off a shark and throwing the still-alive body back in the water to drown.
Like other large fish, high levels of mercury can be found in shark meat.
Shark’s liver oil, cartilage and skin are used in cosmetics (ew), medicines, health supplements, and traditional food products. Shark skin is turned into leather furniture, book bindings, shoes, watch bands and handbags.
Another one of those items that might seem really cool in a tourist shop (especially to a kid), but the teeth most likely came from a shark slaughtered with no regard for the health of the ocean ecosystem.
For centuries, hawksbill sea turtles were killed for their beautiful mottled "tortoise" shells, which were used to make jewelry, decorative combs and hairpins, forks and spoons, and statuettes.
Hawksbill sea turtles are fully protected from international trade by CITES, but poaching and sale of hawksbill shell products in tourist markets worldwide is still a problem.
The jury’s still out on whether exotic, “traditional medicines” said to aid sexual potency or cure illnesses actually work (they’re largely untested by scientists). But we do know that many animals used in the products are endangered (rhino horn, tiger penis) and poached by the thousands for this market.
It might even be illegal to import certain medicinal items containing exotic animal parts.
A handful of countries still kill thousands of whales and dolphins annually, despite international protests.
Not only are the killing methods horribly inhumane, meat from many of these species is contaminated with mercury and other toxins.
Humane and Environmental Issues
In India and Nepal you might see shawls, pashminas, socks, sweaters, suits, and blankets made of Shahtoosh wool from the endangered Tibetan antelope. Although it can be obtained without killing the animals, it’s much easier for poachers to kill first, shear second.
Legalities and Safety Issues
International trade in Shahtoosh is banned, but illegal hunting and selling of the wool still happens.
Countless numbers of animals suffer every year as victims of the international wildlife trade. I pledge to avoid contributing to the illegal wildlife trade and animal suffering by not purchasing items made with or from wild animal parts, not purchasing live wild animals, and not patronizing facilities that keep wildlife captive under inhumane conditions.
After you take action, you'll receive updates by email on how you can help animals. You can easily opt out at any time.
HSI works year-round to encourage policy-makers to improve and enforce laws and regulations in order to reduce the trade in wildlife. We send our team of experts to the triennial CITES meeting to fight for greater protection for wildlife around the world. And we conduct regular outreach to the public about how their consumption and travel choices impact wildlife. Learn more, and join us, at humanesocietyinternational.org.