Legal Trade in African Elephant Ivory: But Ivory to Save the Elephant? (pdf file - 81.64 KB)
Trade in endangered species is a complicated issue. The trade in ivory creates tensions between western conservation-driven beliefs and developing countries’ reliance on wildlife as a resource. This article examines the recent decision under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to conduct a one-time sale of ivory from Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana to Japan. Since trade in endangered species involves many different disciplines, this paper touches on biology, international law, economics, and public policy. In theory, limited trade in African elephant ivory is possible and even advantageous for the various actors. However, in practice, the management controls on the supply side in Africa and the demand side in Japan are insufficient to prevent poaching and the eventual decimation of the species. This one-time sale should act as a warning to prevent further sales without a significant revamping of the control mechanisms.