Economist urges more research before lifting ban on ivory trade


Shanghai Daily/Xinhua

Date Published

Nairobi — A renowned economist on Friday urged the global wildlife community to undertake thorough research before lifting the ban on the trade in ivory.

Alejandro Nadal, Professor at the Centre for Economic Studies of El Colegio de Mexico, told a wildlife forum in Nairobi that there is not enough information to make a prudent decision on how demand and supply will change once trade is permitted.

“Only a comprehensive economic research will tell if legalizing trade in ivory will reduce poaching of elephant for their ivory,” Nadal said during a discussion on the Economics of Wildlife Trade.

Nadal said carefully designed surveys will provide policy-relevant data on illegal markets of ivory trade.

Advocates for legal markets for ivory have often assumed that trade bans drive supply and demand underground, while a legal and stable supply of ivory will bring down the prices and hence remove the incentives for poaching.

In 2008, the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) gave approval for Southern African states to conduct one off sales of their ivory stocks.

The economist noted that there is no conclusive evidence on the impact of the one-off sales on the ivory prices.

Nadal said instead, the sales fueled the demand for ivory which led to more poaching of elephants. He stated that elephants should not be considered as capital assets because they are not commodities.

“Even if government considers elephants as capital assets, it does not automatically mean that they will conserve the wildlife any better,” he added.

“Besides, the global financial markets have been unable to manage capital assets and this is manifested by the frequently economic crises witnessed in the past decade,” he said.