Wednesday, June 08, 2011

How To Save the Elephants? Buy Ivory, Shoot Them

In the 1970s, Kenya had about six times as many elephants as Zimbabwe, and today Zimbabwe has three times more elephants than Kenya (see chart).  What happened that caused the dramatic reversal in elephant populations in the two African countries? 

Terry Anderson and Shawn Regan of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) explain in their excellent article "Shoot an Elephant, Save a Community":

"Anti-hunting groups succeeded in getting Kenya to ban all hunting in 1977. Since then, its population of large wild animals has declined between 60 and 70 percent. The country’s elephant population declined from 167,000 in 1973 to just 16,000 in 1989. Poaching took its toll on elephants because of their damage to both cropland and people. Today Kenya wildlife officials boast a doubling of the country’s elephant population to 32,000, but nearly all are in protected national parks where poaching can be controlled.

In sharp contrast to Kenya, consider what has happened in Zimbabwe. In 1989, results-oriented groups such as the World Wildlife Fund helped implement a program known as the Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources or CAMPFIRE. This approach devolves the rights to benefit from, dispose of, and manage natural resources to the local level, including the right to allow safari hunting. Community leaders with local knowledge about wildlife and its interface with humans help establish sustainable hunting quotas. Hunting then provides jobs for community members, compensation for crop and property damage, revenue to build schools, clinics, and water wells, and meat for villagers.

By granting local people control over wildlife resources, their incentive to protect it has strengthened. As a result, poaching has been contained and human-wildlife conflicts have been reduced. While challenges remain, especially from the current political climate in Zimbabwe, CAMPFIRE has quietly produced results with strikingly little activist rhetoric.

Between 1989 and 2005, Zimbabwe’s total elephant population more than doubled from 37,000 to 85,000, with half living outside of national parks. Today, some put the number as high as 100,000, even after decades of legal, trophy hunting. All of this has occurred with an economy in shambles, regime uncertainty, and mounting socio-political challenges."

See a related CD post here on how private property rights, legalized hunting, commercial farming, and the commercial sale of alligator meat and hides saved the American alligator from extinction. 

10 Comments:

At 6/08/2011 8:05 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Protecting property rights and allowing trade matters. Sadly, Zimbabwe does not apply the lesson to other parts of its economy.

 
At 6/08/2011 10:15 PM, Blogger Angel said...

Excellent article. I am most impressed by its message and logic. I am not convinced an almighty federal or national policy is always the right thing and this substantiates that view with a win-win scenario where all sides are able to benefit.

Local control provides for more engagement at the 'local' level, which in turn creates results!

 
At 6/08/2011 10:18 PM, Blogger bob wright said...

My question is, how do we apply this technique to public education in order to improve educational outcomes?

Does simply building a charter school in an impoverished neighborhood in order to provide parents "choice" accomplish this?

How does one get community leaders vested in better educational outcomes?

Any thoughts?

 
At 6/09/2011 6:06 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from bob wright: "How does one get community leaders vested in better educational outcomes?"

Take the politics out of the system and let the market work.

In other words, it will not come from community leaders, it will come from the community abandoning the failed system.

 
At 6/09/2011 8:09 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"My question is, how do we apply this technique to public education in order to improve educational outcomes?"

2 ideas spring to mind:

1. vouchers. that's the ultimate property right for education. every kid comes with money. make schools compete for them. we need to change the rights structure to allow parents and students to choose their education, not provide free access to failing schools.

oh, and all schools must be "right to teach". unions can exist, but they may never be permitted to compel membership, dues payment, or prevent non union employees from working at a school.

2. finland. they had among the worst schools in europe and within a decade became the best. they did this by empowering principals. no more national curriculum, teach as you believe will work, and hire and fire as you please. that devolved control to the local level and allowed decision to be made where the problems and results can be seen. it also allowed for lots of experimentation which is how you more rapidly evolve best practices.

not an extra dime was spent to achieve that result, and it would work here. it's not like administrators have no ideas and/or cannot tell who can and cannot teach, they are just powerless to do anything about it, hamstrung by unions, state and federal rules, and a climate of stagnation.

 
At 6/09/2011 8:26 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

How does one get community leaders vested in better educational outcomes?

Most self-proclaimed 'community leaders' are the problem and cannot be a part of the solution. We don't need 'community leaders' to ensure that people get groceries or toothpaste. We certainly don't need them to get a decent education for our children. All that is required is a choice for parents and the removal of barriers to competition.

 
At 6/09/2011 11:43 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

"1. vouchers. that's the ultimate property right for education. every kid comes with money. make schools compete for them. we need to change the rights structure to allow parents and students to choose their education, not provide free access to failing schools."

~ morganovich

That is fabulous.

 
At 6/10/2011 6:34 AM, Blogger Shane Leavy said...

Would it be possible to FARM elephants? If there is such a demand for ivory then may it be economical to protect and nurture elephants in the same way that farmers protect and nurture cattle or sheep? The locals get to export expensive ivory and use the elephant carcass for food, etc.

(I'm not sure if elephant size or appetite makes this uneconomical.)

 
At 6/10/2011 10:16 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Would it be possible to FARM elephants? "

"(I'm not sure if elephant size or appetite makes this uneconomical.)"

That's an interesting idea, but I must believe that if it were practical, we would see it happening already.

 
At 6/11/2011 9:24 PM, Blogger Chris Bauch said...

the data don't tell a clear story... the elephant population in zimbabwe is increasing exponentially from 1973 to present and you can't see any change in 1989 at all (when the program was implemented and therefore where we should have seen a change in trend). another interesting thing is that the relative increase in elephant populations is the same... almost a doubling in population size over 20 years (between 1973 and 1993 in zimbabwe and between 1989 and 2009 in kenya). relative changes in population are a better indicator of number of surviving offspring per parent. it would be hard to understand the effectiveness of the two programs without understanding the population biology too.

 

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