African elephants: the effect of property rights and political stability
African elephant populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 20 years. International outrage over the slaughter led to a worldwide ban on ivory sales beginning in 1989, despite the objections of many economists and scientists, and of several southern African countries that have established systems of property rights over elephants. Far from declining, elephant populations in many of these countries have increased to levels at or above the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. This article estimates the determinants of changes in elephant populations in 35 African countries over several time periods. The authors find that, controlling for other factors, countries with property rights systems of community wildlife programs have more rapid elephant population growth rates than do those countries that do not. Political instability and the absence of representative governments significantly lower elephant growth rates. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.
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