Issues and concerns in developing regulated markets for endangered species products: the case of rhinoceros horns

Alan Oscar Michael Collins, Gavin Fraser, Jen Snowball

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Abstract

A proposal for addressing rhinoceros poaching is to legalise the trade in rhino horn and adopt a regulated market approach (RMA), overturning the current trade ban. This orthodox economic prescription aims to reduce incentives to poach endangered wildlife by driving down the market price of their products via auctioned stockpile releases. Biologists are clear, however, that securing a stockpile for some species needs biological success in captive breeding programmes (CBPs) which varies markedly across species and habitats. Rhinoceros herds in a CBP would need spatially extensive terrain and costly permanent security measures, and this only appears feasible for the less aggressive “white” rhino. We argue that market price would actually need to be sustained at a high level to cover protection costs over the longer reproduction cycles in CBPs and that, without extensive monitoring and the correct institutional structures being in place, legalising trade may encourage, rather than prevent, poaching. Supplementary policy measures that differentiate among consumer groups would also likely prove necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1686
JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
Volume40
Issue number6
Early online date16 Dec 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • WNU
  • Rhinoceros
  • endangered species,
  • black markets
  • poaching
  • captive breeding programs

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