BE­YOND THE head­lines

SEP­A­RAT­ING FACT FROM FIC­TION

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Agenda News - DANIEL STILES.

WILDLIFE TRADE BANS DON’T AL­WAYS WORK FOR THE SPECIES THEY ARE SUP­POSED TO BE PRO­TECT­ING, SAYS

Why don’t wildlife trade bans work? Trade bans don’t work be­cause they ig­nore the le­git­i­mate rights of com­mu­ni­ties that live with wildlife to man­age their re­sources; they dis­re­gard the con­cerns of thou­sands of peo­ple who make a liv­ing from the trade; and they de­prive con­sumers of prod­ucts that they de­sire. All three of th­ese stake­holder groups then work to un­der­mine the bans. Bans stim­u­late cor­rup­tion and black mar­kets, which wors­ens the plight of both wildlife and lo­cal peo­ple.

How would a le­gal trade in rare species work?

A trade sys­tem would have to be de­vised that sat­is­fies all the con­cerned par­ties – lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, gov­ern­ments, busi­ness­men, con­sumers and con­ser­va­tion­ists. The trade would have to be sus­tain­able and not en­dan­ger the wild species. The vicuña and many croc­o­dile species have been saved from ex­tinc­tion by le­gal trade, and many species of plants, rep­tiles and birds are traded sus­tain­ably, though im­prove­ments could be made in many cases.

Could le­gal­is­ing trade make things worse?

Yes, if some stake­hold­ers are ig­nored and if both sup­pli­ers and buy­ers are not in­cluded in the trade sys­tem de­sign. A reg­u­lar sup­ply at an ac­cept­able and fair price is crit­i­cal. Pre­vi­ous at­tempts at le­gal trade have not in­cluded any of th­ese cri­te­ria for suc­cess, so of course failed on many fronts.

Could it work for rhi­nos and ele­phants?

Not only could it work for rhi­nos and ele­phants, it might be the only way to save them, but I would ad­vo­cate trade in prod­ucts only, not live an­i­mals. With no com­pe­ti­tion from any le­gal trade, horn and ivory traf­fick­ers are hav­ing a field day – the last thing they want is to see it le­galised. In this sense, per­haps an­ti­trade cam­paign­ers have some­thing in com­mon with wildlife traf­fick­ers?

Is le­gal­is­ing the ivory trade the way to save ele­phants?

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