Dierbare Goederen – Precious Goods

In the exhibition DIERBARE GOEDEREN attention is payed to the role of Customs in combatting transnational illegal trade in protected species – alive, dead or products made out of them. Customs officers control and monitor the external borders of Europe to make sure protected species of animals and plants don’t cross our borders.

This confronting and informative exhibition shows a variety of seized ‘goods’, a bear head with its skin, turtles, a leopard rug, a stuffed pangolin and a elephants paw made into a umbrella storage. But also ‘naval products’ as coral, seahorses and medicines or cosmetic products wherein parts of protected species are processed. Most of the ‘objects’ come from the so called ‘Hel of Schiphol’, the storage room for seized ‘precious goods’ of the Dutch national airport.  

You will be faced with customs officers that speak on their experiences and shocking finds in luggage, containers or postal packages. About how people try to smuggle living reptiles and exotic birds and what this does to them when they find a living or dead animal during inspections.

Illegal wildlife trade

The illegal trade in protected plant and animal species worldwide is a billion dollar industry. Every year hundreds of thousands of animals are being poached. Some of them are offered alive, others are sold as a souvenir, as food or medicine on the black market. The sad top 5 of seized contraband goods worldwide exists of ivory, pangolin scales, several sea creatures and wood.

Bad souvenirs

The message of the exhibition is as follows: Don’t take these souvenirs back from vacation and don’t order them online. You are contributing to the demand of these products and thereby the underlying illegal poaching which endangers the survival of these animals. A bad souvenir is easily obtained and in a lot of overseas destinations these products of protected species are freely sold, like ivory bracelets and sculptures. Behind every beautiful ornament or ivory sculpture is the ruthless killing of an elephant. For that beautiful tortoiseshell on the wall a turtle has been killed.

Customs & enforcement CITES regulations

The trade and possession of protected animals or products made out of protected species, are bound by strict rules and regulations, defined in the CITES-convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Enforcement of the CITES-rules is a task of Customs, at (transit)ports and external borders such as the port of Rotterdam, Schiphol airport and Postal services. The Customs office also helps the RVO (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland) with the screening for in- and export CITES-species.