Save the Elephants in Africa, Buy Lots of Ivory
From a previous CD post: "Over the last thirty years, there have been two approaches to saving elephants in Africa: a) a ban on commercial use of elephants and elephant products like ivory, and a ban on 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)."
From this IHT article "African states reach compromise on ivory sales," it appears that Kenya still hasn't learned much from its failed conservation policies that have caused its elephant herds to dwindle, and is still resisting the market-based approaches that have helped elephants in Zimbabwe and Botswana.
An agreement was reached in the Netherlands yesterday by the 171-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that will allow South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to empty government inventories of ivory in a single sale to Japan, which guaranteed not to reexport the raw ivory. Revenues from the sale are earmarked for conservation programs.
Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, came to this year's conference with a proposal to end the 1989 international ban on ivory sales and establish annual quotas, furthering the market-based approaches that have allowed them to succeed at increasing elephant herds (see graph above).
Kenya worried that the one-time sale will stimulate a demand that cannot be legally met.
"It will encourage the illegal market, and that's what kills elephants," said Michael Wamithi, the Kenya-based elephant expert for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It also sends a signal to consumers "that ivory is back in style," he said.
It's obvious by looking at the graph above that what kills elephants is Kenya's approach to elephants, which is to ban private ownership and ban commercial use of elephants, a tragic outcome for Kenyan elephants, and another predictable "tragedy of the commons" result. The reality is that if nobody owns elephants in Kenya, and commercial use of elephants is not allowed, then nobody cares about Keynan elephants, and they will eventually disappear.
Exhibits A and B: There are no longer any shortages of America buffaloes or American alligators now that they can be privately owned, and commercial use is allowed.