Defacement of natural monuments
Taking natural objects as souvenirs
Removing artefacts from their natural setting may be as innocent as collecting shells on the beach, or picking a wildflower, or pocketing a memorable piece of rock on a bushwalk. The act becomes more dubious when the shell is a rare fossil, or the flower an endangered orchid, or the rock fragment part of a archaeological stone arrangement. Knowingly or unknowingly, humans have purloined and defaced virtually every natural asset of the earth. The more rare or spectacular the item, it seems, the greater the attraction to possess it by acquisition, or by leaving a personal mark in the forms as varied as graffiti or artificial landscaping.
Large lichen- and moss-covered rocks are being removed from natural woodland settings for landscaping suburban gardens. Hundreds of tonnes of yellow sand from the Sahara has been spread over a black volcanic beach at Tenerife to improve its appearance for the tourists. Pieces of the Great Wall of China are scattered all over the world on mantlepieces and in shoeboxes of assorted rock curios.