By Ross Harvey, MPhil Elephants in the wild are under serious threat: Save the Elephants estimates that 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in Africa between 20.Elephants are part of our global heritage that should be stewarded for future generations, but they are not to be fenced off in “fortress conservation” efforts; we must find ways of co-existing with elephants in a way that serves communities in Africa – and the elephants themselves.
One way to mitigate the risk elephants are facing due to demand for their ivory is to reduce that demand – such campaigns are crucial in the fight against poaching, and domestic ivory trade bans can complement these campaigns.
At the South African Institute of International Affairs, we promoted the indefinite imposition of a domestic ivory trade ban in the run-up to the 17th Conference of the Parties (Co P17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 2016.
One the basis of our findings, we propose that the Chinese authorities should make it explicit that the ban is indefinite, and that they take steps to indicate, monitor and communicate progress.
By doing this, they will signal credibility, preventing speculators from starting to believe that the regulators are not serious about shutting down the market.
Scientists have taught us pretty much all that we know about the animal kingdom, but are there times when they are better off keeping their discoveries to themselves?
A team of Australian researchers are now calling for some data on the location of endangered species to be withheld from scientific journals, in light of a mounting body of evidence that suggests poachers are using publicly available information to zero in on the animals."There are a lot of benefits to open-access online journals including an increased public awareness of science and citizen science participation, but for some species this benefit needs to be weighed against the risk of increased poaching," said Dr Benjamin Scheele from Australia National University and one of the authors of the new paper.
Along with a number of other organizations, we appear to have been successful at convincing the Chinese authorities to recognize that a domestic ban is necessary.
Bans like this make demand reduction campaigns credible, but they are only effective under certain conditions.
In our study, we designed a simple non-cooperative game between Chinese authorities and ivory speculators to assess the best equilibrium outcome for elephants.
Within the broader game, there are two sub-games – the first is between speculators and poachers.