Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Apart from the obvious taxonomic and, for that matter, gastronomic differences between elephants and tuna, there are also political differences.
The real money is in safaris. The article says that the ivory was going for $100/lb...a BIG elephant is 100 lbs/tusk, but outfitters charge $17K for 10 days hunting plus a $20K government permitting fee to take an animal.
By my calculation, per capita income in Zambia is ~$1,500/year, so the $17,500 safari fee is a year's salary for 12 people...ignoring tips and the incremental fees for plains game, fishing, and birds (most hunters go after kudu, gemsbok, etc while over there). Hunters take the hides/heads and the meat is eaten in camp and surplus is distributed to the local village.
If there was more hunting in the area, villagers would see more value to wildlife than crop depredation and poachers would be attacked/turned in by the locals.
Anonymous reminded me of the Caymen Island sea turtle farm that Reason wrote about.
The best way to make an endangered species prosper is to make it profitable to have around. The best way to make an endangered animal extinct is with a Commons. (i.e. grab 'em now before they're gone).