Sunday, March 18, 2007

Save The Elephants: Buy Ivory and Trophy Licenses

Over the last thirty years, there have been two approaches to saving elephants in Africa: a) ban commercial use of elephants and elephant products like ivory, and ban private ownership of elephants; or b) allow commercial use of elephants like trophy hunting licenses and the sale of ivory, and promote private property rights for elephants.

After a quarter century of both approaches operating in different African countries, the evidence is clear: elephant herds are decreasing significantly in countries like Kenya that ban private ownership and commercial use, and elephant herds are increasing significantly in countries like Zimbabwe and Botswana where elephants can be owned and where commercial uses like hunting and ivory sales are allowed (see graph above).

In the late 1970s, Kenya had almost 3 times as many elephants as Zimbabwe and Kenya combined, and now both Zimbabwe and Botswana each have more than 4 times as many elephants as Kenya.

From an article by Karol Boudreaux, via Cafe Hayek, "Kenyans are debating whether the Government should lift its 30-year ban on trophy hunting. While the talk continues, the elephant population in Kenya continues to drop.

Meanwhile, elephant populations in countries such as Namibia and South Africa are increasing, a resurgence that is due surprisingly, in part, to trophy hunting. More importantly, our research in Namibia has found that as elephant populations rebound, so do the fortunes of the people."

The evidence strongly suggests that Kenya's conservation policies have failed, and an end to the ban on commercial use of elephants could help stop the decline of elephants there.


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