Don't buy an iguana, Brazil warns World Cup fans

Don't buy an iguana, Brazil warns World Cup fans

RIO DE JANEIRO - World Cup fans looking for that special souvenir from Brazil should know it is illegal to buy parrots, iguanas and other wildlife, authorities said on Wednesday, releasing a list of environmental guidelines for tourists.

Monkeys, birds, snakes, butterflies, spiders and scorpions are also included on the list of off-limits purchases and activities compiled by officials in the north-eastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, whose capital Natal is a World Cup host city.

"The World Cup will draw thousands of tourists, Brazilian and foreign, to Rio Grande do Norte," said Airton De Grande, spokesman for the state branch of the Brazilian Environment and Resources Institute (IBAMA).

"In order to avoid embarrassing incidents or even criminal punishment, (we) have prepared a list of 10 rules that everyone should follow." The list warns tourists not to buy jewellery or crafts made from wild animals, including anything with feathers, teeth, leather or butterfly wings.

Buying wildlife, dead or alive, is punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 reals (S$2,800) per animal and a prison sentence of up to one year, it says.

The list also advises tourists not to take pictures next to people offering photo ops with wild animals, "even if they seem tame".

"This activity is illegal and hurts the animals," it says.

Hunting animals or eating hunted animals is also illegal, it warns.

It advises tourists hiring dune-buggies to explore the region's pristine beaches to use only licensed guides to avoid crushing nests made by turtles or birds. And it warns Scuba divers and snorkelers that taking corals from the region's dazzling reefs is also forbidden.

Finally, for those who truly fall in love with the landscape of north-east Brazil, the guide warns them to consult environmental authorities before buying a beachfront house or plot of land.

Around 600,000 foreign tourists and 3.1 million Brazilians are expected to travel to the 12 World Cup host cities during the tournament, which kicks off June 12.

Natal is hosting four matches, including games featuring the United States, Japan and Mexico.

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