The case for burn­ing ivory

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

man­age­ment is labour-in­ten­sive and tech­no­log­i­cally de­mand­ing. The ivory also must be air-con­di­tioned to pre­vent the tusks from crack­ing or be­com­ing brit­tle (im­por­tant fac­tors for at­tract­ing higher prices).

Given the low prob­a­bil­ity of be­ing able to sell ivory in the fu­ture, the cost of stor­ing and pro­tect­ing it is un­likely to be re­couped. Mean­while, crim­i­nal syn­di­cates need only cor­rupt a hand­ful of lo­cal of­fi­cials to make off with the goods.

Then there are the high op­por­tu­nity costs of in­vest­ment in main­tain­ing stock­piles. The scarce hu­man and fi­nan­cial re­sources al­lo­cated to­ward stock­pile man­age­ment could be more ef­fi­ciently di­rected to­ward land­scape preser­va­tion ef­forts (which can be­come self-sus­tain­ing over time through pay­ment for ecosys­tem ser­vices).

Fi­nally, burn­ing ivory worth mil­lions of dol­lars has an un­de­ni­able sym­bolic im­pact. It sends a clear mes­sage: Ivory be­longs to ele­phants and to no one else. And it makes clear that ele­phants are worth more alive than dead.

In­deed, ele­phants’ value is any­thing but sym­bolic. Ele­phants are a key­stone species for pre­serv­ing im­por­tant ecosys­tems. And yet ram­pant poach­ing is de­stroy­ing ele­phant pop­u­la­tions across Africa, killing, on av­er­age, 30,000 a year.

Poach­ing also has a neg­a­tive im­pact on com­mu­ni­ties, ben­e­fit­ing a few at the ex­pense of the many. Re­cent re­search has shown that com­mu­nity con­ser­van­cies (ar­eas set aside for wildlife con­ser­va­tion) in north­ern Kenya are highly ef­fec­tive forms of land­scape (and there­fore ele­phant) preser­va­tion, provided the right in­cen­tives are in place. This is im­por­tant be­cause in coun­tries like Kenya and Tan­za­nia, the ma­jor­ity of wildlife ex­ists out­side for­mally pro­tected ar­eas.

Kenya should be com­mended for mak­ing a wise – and ef­fi­cient – de­ci­sion. Its neigh­bours, as well as coun­tries far­ther south, should fol­low its ex­am­ple. Ide­ally, all ranges­tate coun­tries should de­stroy their stock­piles to over­come the re­gional col­lec­tive ac­tion prob­lem. Do­ing so would send an un­mis­tak­able sig­nal to the global mar­ket: Ivory is not for sale, not now and not in the fu­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.