Poachers are the Greatest Threat to Endangered and Mighty Species
All discussion of mighty animals being killed needs to be steered to the greatest threat, poaching. If the entire US army could not hold Bagdad then the same is for third world governments, they cannot hold their commons and protect the wild animals from poachers. Poaching is the illegal or uncontrolled harvesting of an animal for the purpose of entertainment or monetary gain. This means that the rarer an animal becomes the more valuable they are stuffed in a mansion to that buyer. The more their body parts like tusks or bones are valued for decoration or medicine, the more the poachers make as well in the black market. Poaching is one of the most visible modern evils and enemies to true conservation.
Valuable Animals Suffer from the “Tragedy of the Commons”
In Economics we have something that is called the “tragedy of the commons.” In this scenario, everyone holds all the natural resources in common. Commons include grazing lands where ranches graze their cattle, may include a mine found in the wilderness full of diamonds, it could include trees or beavers. Whatever it is in nature or in public space is in the commons. Common ownership implies a lack of private ownership, which means that there is no one allocating the resources or is responsible for them. When a valuable resource is held in common, there becomes a strong natural incentive to quickly harvest as much as possible of that resource before someone else does. It becomes a all or nothing scenario and since something is better than nothing, it creates a frenzy. Sustainability does not exist in the commons.
A Tale of Two African Villages
In our first tale, a merchant approaches a poor destitute African village. He has a quota from the black market back in America for Lion skulls. He approaches the leaders of the village and offers them $2,000 a pelt for a period of one week and $500 thereafter. Each of these salaries far exceeds the annual income of the average villager. The leaders discuss it, rally their men, march out with their traps and AK-47’s and as quickly as possible and without any concern for the future, harvest all and every lion in a weeks radius in the public lands. This reduces the lion population from thriving to endangered in that province almost over night and when a future merchant comes and offers the same deal, hardly any lions are left to harvest and they become near extinct in the region.
In our second tale, a man from America comes to the village who loves lions and nearly worships them. He has paid the provincial government $30,000 for a permit to harvest a large, mighty and mature Male Lion to take back home to his mansion and set up as a trophy and monument. With the money to the provincial government, they then create a wilderness ranger force to help fight poaching. He then goes to the village and pays them $20,000 for use of the land around their village. He then pays for lodging, a guide, equipment, food, and for a team to process any animal he happens to harvest. He wants a full grown, healthy, beautiful animal and so the village learning of his needs, is able to take their AK-47’s and go out and stop poaching completely because a sustainable form of large sums of money has just come to their village. They also now have a incentive to have lots of Lions and allow the population to thrive even allowing them to encroach into their village. In this second tale, the Lion population thrives, thanks to the all important industry of Trophy Hunting.
The Economics of Trophy Hunting
The doctor who accidently harvested Cecil the Lion had paid roughly $55,000 in order to do so. This money supports both the state and the locals, from hospitality, transportation, actual hunting and most importantly, it supports the Lion population in the region. Today, we are seeing the destruction of the mighty Siberian tiger to poachers selling them for medicine in China. We are seeing the disappearance of the mighty Jaguar to poachers in Brazil as Trophy Hunting is outlawed. We have seen the Walrus population take a hit because of the Ivory of their tusks. Rhino’s suffered for similar reasons. Until recently, the elephant population was quickly disappearing until Trophy Hunting saved them. It is these same hated hunters who are saving the animal we pretend to love. If society really did love Cecil, they would do as the good doctor did and drop $55,000 to go and Trophy Hunt maybe not with a rifle but with a camera, supporting the locals and protecting the species!