Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tiger, tiger

Kirsten Conrad writes in a recent edition of Tropical Conservation Science that a ban in the trade of elephant, rhino and tiger parts have created a “perfect storm” that are combining to accelerate the demise of these species. These forces include inelasticity of demand (i.e. you don't want less of something as it becomes more expensive), a high profit potential, a long history of trade (both legal and illegal), ambiguous property rights, negative economic incentives for conservation due to human-animal conflict and inadequate enforcement.

Banning the trade in a species can work, but sometimes it does not. Whether it will work will depend on a host of factors, such as whether the species is easy to access, how much it is worth, how corrupt the police are, whether the species occurs on land or on sea, and whether there are equivalent substitutes. Yet we continue to believe that when a species has had its trade banned at CITES then the problem is solved. CITES is 40 next year. We need to do better.