Real World Problem Depicted
The depiction of a tusk-less elephant alongside various types of jewelry and ivory trophies in the first picture clearly presents the poaching problem in the contemporary world. Wildlife poaching has been recognized as one of the biggest challenges to the economic sectors of countries which rely on tourism as a form of economic activity. For instance, East African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania consider tourism to be a major contributor to the national revenues. However, the poaching challenge makes this difficult to accomplish since animals such as elephants which attract tourists to these countries have been on a constant decline through the recent years. Steyn (par. 2) indicates that in less than a year nearly 144,000 elephants were lost to activities associated with poaching.
The high prices associated with ivory products have been one of the factors that have resulted in the rise in poaching activities. Ivory products are categorized as luxury products whose prices do not affect demand negatively. On the contrary, the demand for such products increases with increase in price. In accordance with Loria (par. 8) asserts that the sale of ivory in the black market is very luxurious as syndicates buy it at approximately $ 3 per kilogram for re-sale to jewelry manufacturers at more than $1,000 per kg. Economically speaking, this may be a source of income to the syndicates. However, it results in income loss to the countries where poaching occurs as fewer tourists are attracted each year as the wildlife of interest reduce. This is because more people are likely to be attracted to the parks with greater elephant numbers (Loria par. 4). This can be linked to the concept of third party effects in economics. In this case, the relationship between the state and the tourists is affected by the actions of the poachers, who cannot be controlled by the government except through policy.
Policy One: Burning of Ivory
Different countries have formulated different policies for addressing the issue of poaching within their national boundaries. One of the most common policies is that of burning ivory as a way of preventing poaching. The ivory is intercepted and at times burned by governments to send a message that dealing in ivory trade is illegal. While this imposes customs and fines on the poachers, it does not seem to be effective since the animals that are already killed cannot be brought back to life (Kimenyi par. 6). Furthermore, burning of the ivory also seems to be an uninformed decision as it still results in loss. Governments must therefore make efforts to find alternative methods of conservation to prevent poaching. In some cases, the development of private conservation entities has been recognized as a potential method of preventing poaching. This may however be challenging to handle especially when the owners of such private facilities are not locals. The chart below shows how the number of elephants has continued to decline in spite of the implementation of the policy in the 21st Century. It is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the policy in curbing the problem at hand.
Figure 1: Decline in elephant numbers from the early 20th century
(McKenzie and Formanek par. 3)
Policy Two: Rights of Ownership
Kimenyi (par. 7) introduces the concept of enforceable rights of ownership as a means of economic conservation. According to the author, one of the ways through which the governments can help to prevent poaching within the national and local parks is through the introducing the enforceable rights of ownership to the local communities. In this way, the local communities can be more involved in preventing poaching as they realize that the wildlife they are to protect are also part of their revenue sources. In this way, countries can not only boost the income from tourism but also do so sustainably. The policies notwithstanding, poaching still remains the cause of many elephant deaths as shown in the chart below.
Figure 2: Number forest elephants versus number killed per year (Wrege par. 3)
Kimenyi, Mwangi. ‘The dilemma of destroying ivory as an anti-poaching strategy.’ Brookings, 6 March 2015. Accessed from www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2015/03/06/the-dilemma-of-destroying-ivory-as-an-anti-poaching-strategy/
Loria, Kevin. Elephant coaching costs economies $ 25 million a year and the threat of extinction makes it much worse. Business Insider, 1 November 2016. Accessed from www.businessinsider.com/elephant-poaching-economic-value-millions-dollars-2016-11?IR=T
McKenzie, David and Formanek, Ingrid. Our living dinosaurs. CNN, 2016. Accessed from www.edition.cnn.com/2016/08/31/africa/great-elephant-census/
Steyn, Paul. African elephant numbers plummet 30 percent, landmark survey finds. National Geographic, 31 August 2016. Retrieved from www.news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/wildlife-african-elephants-population-decrease-great-elephant-census/
Wrege, Peter. Can technology rescue the forest elephant? Yes, with your help. O’Reilly, 13 June 2013. Accessed from www.animals.oreilly.com/can-technology-rescue-the-forest-elephant/