Foods you should avoid while travelling: Ten endangered species you shouldn't eat

Think twice before tucking into any of these dishes when you travel.

Blue fin tuna

Taste-wise, there's an argument for blue fin being the best type of tuna to eat. But it has been grossly overfished, to the point where the blue fin tunas are struggling to reproduce. Therefore, if you see it on a restaurant menu, you should really be running a mile. Yellowfin tuna is more acceptable, although it too is overfished in places. Skipjack is the most responsible species to plump for.

Caribou

The caribou has long been a staple part of the diet for First Nations people in Canada, but it's unlikely that the rapidly declining numbers are due to overconsumption by the Inuit. But drops in the North American population have been fairly dramatic in recent years, so maybe think twice before tucking into a caribou burger while hanging out in a northern Canadian pub or diner.

Chinook salmon

Highly valued on the US Pacific Coast because it is frankly humungous, the Chinook is protected under the US Endangered Species Act. It is still fished – some population groups are healthier than others – but regular fishing bans are put in place in California and Oregon. Instead of asking all the tricky questions about where it has come from and where the current bans are, you're probably best off just not eating it.

Pangolins

Few animals look as bizarrely cool as the pangolin – a big-tailed mammal that comes with its own scaly suit of armour. Unfortunately, they're in trouble, which led to trading in them being banned at the 2017 conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Unfortunately, plenty of them are still eaten in Asia – particularly in China and Vietnam.

Atlantic cod

Bad news, fish and chips lovers – the northern hemisphere's favourite chunky, meaty fish for slathering in batter probably isn't sustainable. The Atlantic cod has taken a hammering due to demand, and while populations in the NE Arctic and Eastern Baltic are still fairly healthy, the Marine Conservation Society suggests avoiding them if caught in several other key fishing areas – particularly those around the UK.

Ortolan

The ortolan is a songbird found in pockets of Western Europe, and it has long been a popular delicacy in France – it was former President Francois Mitterrand's last meal. Due to declining numbers, the hunting of it was banned by the French government in 1999, although this ban was widely ignored. More vigorous enforcement has led to a backlash, with top chefs campaigning to be able to serve up ortolan again. If the vulnerability doesn't put you off, the methods of capture and fattening up may well do.

Fin whale

Most of the world has an aversion to whale hunting, which means you're only likely to find whale on the menu in a few countries. Iceland is one of them, but Japan tends to be the most problematic. That's because the Japanese ''research'' whaling ships aren't just taking the minke whale, which has a relatively healthy wild population, but other species. In particular, the fin whale, which is prized for its tail meat, is in all sorts of trouble. So even if you're the type to try novelty foods others are disgusted by, avoid ''onomi'' on a Japanese menu.

Chinese giant salamander

The world's largest amphibian – they can grow up to 1.8 metres long – only lives in rocky mountain streams in China. Due to habitat encroachment, it is considered to be critically endangered. Alas, the fact that it is regarded as a delicacy isn't helping matters either. Basically, unless people stop eating them quick-smart, the world's second largest amphibian is about to get a promotion.

Green sea turtle

Turtles can be tasty – just ask any croc trundling up the coast and fancying a light snack. But there's a reason why turtle soup is hardly seen on restaurant menus any more – green sea turtles in particular have been eaten to the point where they're under threat. Generally, the consumption takes place under the radar in less-developed countries, but you'll still find turtle served up in Louisiana and the Cayman Islands.

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'Bushmeat'

In large areas of Africa, people can't afford to be too picky about what they're eating. And, unfortunately, this leads to a lot of threatened species being hunted and killed for meat. Anything lumped under the banner of "bushmeat" is generally something the person serving it doesn't want you to know the origins of. Alas, this can mean chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants and lions.

See also: The problem with the world's 50 best restaurants list

See also: The world's ten most divisive foods

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