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  • Thumbnail for African Elephants And The Operation Of Ivory Markets
    African Elephants And The Operation Of Ivory Markets by Garcia-Vicente, Nicolas

    African elephant populations declined from 1.3 million to approximately 600,000 between 1979 and 1989. In 1989 CITES moved the African elephant from Appendix II to Appendix I, officially labeling it as a species threatened with extinction and making the international trading of ivory illegal. Many countries argued that the ban would produce undesired effects because they were putting money from the ivory trade towards conservation efforts, and without these funds they would no longer be able to effectively protect their elephants. In 1997 CITES granted permission of the first of many one-off international sales of ivory stockpiles. Four African countries were allowed to partake in the legal selling of their ivory stockpiles—Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—and these countries are known as the regulated ivory markets of Africa in this and prior analyses. Here I use a long panel data set with seven observations for year and 36 countries to evaluate the effectiveness of the 1989 ban and 1997 CITES ruling. I find that the 1989 ban had a positive overall net effect, in terms of slowing population loss across the entire continent, but produced undesired effects in certain countries, specifically the wealthiest and least corrupt. I also find that the 1997 policy had a positive and statistically significant impact on elephant populations, not only in the four regulated countries, but also in all of Africa in general. These results suggest that CITES has not yet reached its optimal benchmark, in terms of elephant conservation, and that allowing more countries to partake in these legal sales could benefit the elephant populations of Africa as a whole.