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Protecting the African Elephant: A Dynamic Bioeconomic Model of Ivory Trade


  • van Kooten, G. Cornelis


International trade in ivory is banned in order to protect the African elephant. The trade ban is supported by some range states, because it is seen as an effective means for protecting a 'flagship' species, but is opposed by states, mainly in southern Africa, because populations exceed the carrying capacity of local ecosystems. Issues concerning the ivory trade ban are addressed in this paper using a dynamic partial-equilibrium trade model that consists of four ivory exporting regions and a single demand region. Results indicate that a trade ban might not be successful in maintaining elephant populations, even if it leads to a stigma effect that reduces demand and increases the marginal costs of marketing ivory. Results suggest that the species will survive only if non-market values are taken into account. Surprisingly, however, the interaction between tourism benefits and marginal compensation from rich countries can lead to the demise of elephants in some regions where this would not be the case otherwise. Finally, elephant populations are even projected to crash if range states can operate an effective quota scheme, even one that excludes poaching. In the final analysis, however, free trade in ivory and effective institutions that translate numbers of elephants into monetary payments may be the best hope for the elephant.

Suggested Citation

  • van Kooten, G. Cornelis, 2006. "Protecting the African Elephant: A Dynamic Bioeconomic Model of Ivory Trade," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21206, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea06:21206

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. G. Cornelis van Kooten, 2006. "A Dynamic Bioeconomic Model of Ivory Trade: Details and Extended Results," Working Papers 2006-03, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
    2. Bulte, Erwin H. & van Kooten, G. Cornelis, 1996. "A note on ivory trade and elephant conservation," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(04), pages 433-443, October.
    3. N/A, 1996. "Note:," Foreign Trade Review, , vol. 31(1-2), pages 1-1, January.
    4. Fischer, Carolyn, 2004. "The complex interactions of markets for endangered species products," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 926-953, September.
    5. Andreas Kontoleon & Timothy Swanson, 2003. "The Willingness to Pay for Property Rights for the Giant Panda: Can a Charismatic Species Be an Instrument for Nature Conservation?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(4), pages 483-499.
    6. Bulte, Erwin H. & Horan, Richard D. & Shogren, Jason F., 2001. "Banking On Extinction: Ivory Storage And Elephant Conservation," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20505, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
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    International Relations/Trade;


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