Tourists warned of taking away banned items

Some of the detections made by the Customs include live star tortoises and Kothala Himbutu mugs and barks.

Goods which have an archeological value and fauna and flora nearing extinction, are being spirited away by the tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

Making a statement to the Daily News regarding this issue, Deputy Customs Director and acting media spokesman of Sri Lanka Customs,Vipula Minuwanpitiya said items which have an archeological value and plants and trees and also animals threatened with extinction have been confiscated from foreigners leaving the country.

They have been confiscated under the Wildlife and the Flora and Fauna Act, the official said.

He called upon tourists and visitors to refrain from purchasing such items from local collectors or merchants.

Foreigners who purchase such items will be subject to unneccesary delays and hassle at the airport because they become victims of traders who sell such items, he said.

They realise that their money has been spent in vain once detected at the Customs desk. This will effect badly on the tourism industry as well, Minuwanpitiya said.

He said there is a gradual increase in the number of acts of bio-piracy in recent times with the number of detections increasing.

According to the Flora and Fauna Act, goods which have a historical value of more than 100 years including old books, carvings, brass items and also VOCplates, horns of deer and sambhur, star fish, Kothala Himbutu and the bark of the Wallapatta tree are banned from export and protected by the Wildlife and Flora and Fauna Act in Sri Lanka.

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