Could elephants and rhinoceros be economically farmed for their ivory like pigs and cattle are farmed for their meat?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 24, 2020 05:03 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 24, 2020 05:03 AM

Originally Answered: Is Ivory farming legal anywhere in the world (i.e. raising elephants on farms and harvesting the ivory)?
Trading in ivory is currently illegal, as is the international sale of any new ivory products. However, there is a thriving black market for ivory, and it is only getting worse.

There have been calls to legalize ivory and to control the market, but that has been met with skepticism.

Simon Jenkins, the BBC journalist and author, wrote a piece about how if we want to save the elephants, we will have to control the market that poachers are currently running rampant in. He claims the way to do this is to farm elephants, much like cattle.

However, Will Travers, President of the Born Free Foundation, wrote a rebuttal that explains that the economists that Mr. Bandow quoted are simply wrong, and that the trade embargos have actually caused the elephant population to stabilize.

Doug Bandow wrote a piece in Forbes magazine that talks about the economics of legalizing the ivory trade. He points out that economists still see a flourishing (and growing) poaching trade which will eventually decimate the existing elephant population if something is not done to control it:

Many other wild animals face varying threats to their existence. However, the news is not always bad. In some cases markets have been the key to conservation. For instance, vicunas once were considered endangered but now, reported [the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)], “are managed through captive breeding and non-lethal harvests from wild populations.” Wild animals “are taken, shorn and released.” The population increased 40-fold between 1965 and 2010. Similarly, “The legal trade in crocodiles is one of the success stories in CITES history which shows species recovery as a result of trade.” In China “tigers are being farmed with the intention of supplying tiger parts in the future.”

But today elephants are dying, many because of ivory prohibition. Economist Rasmus Heltberg observed: “One may find such black markets and the poaching that supplies them immoral, but ignoring their role by assuming them away may lead to misguided conservation policies.”

CITES acknowledged the failure: “given the present rise in illegal killing of elephants in West, Central, and East Africa it is clear that current measures are not containing the present surge in the illegal trade in ivory.” Western governments should stop insisting on doing more of the same, which guarantees failure. The only realistic alternative is to create a legal market for ivory and other elephant products.

In March CITES must decide whether it is better for elephants to be sacred and dead or commercial and alive. If elephants could talk, they almost certainly would prefer the second. So should the rest of us.

I have to look at this objectively and say that there should be a legal market, to save the elephants. African governments are ineffectual in their ability to control poaching, and it is literally running rampant. If the indigenous people who are proximate to the elephants already could help to control the poachers by having a legal market themselves, we could save the elephants. At this rate of poaching, however, they are facing an extinction-level event within the next 20 years.

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