by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
That such spectacular animals as tigers could face extinction is something that would be a shame. Providing they are not threatening us in the wild, we love wild animals, especially big dangerous colourful ones. And when their numbers reduce and they become endangered we love and treasure them even more. Now with several tiger farms in China and Thailand raising tigers for sale, the traditional conservationists are outraged. Conservationists prefer protection and laws to make the taking of endangered species like tigers in the wild illegal. And now they want to put a stop to tiger farming. Innovative entrepreneurs seeing the market for tigers have got into the tiger farming business, breeding and raising them to sell, either as whole animals or for their body parts, for which there is a good market in Asia.
Conservationists traditionally don’t like people who make money, and they instinctively have an aversion to property-rights. They are often anti-capitalist in their outlook, and when it comes to doing business and making profits out of endangered species they condemn it with every bone in their body and every legislative and fund-raising means at their disposal.
There is money to be raised by the likes of the World Wildlife Fund to save precious animals: WWF is essentially in the Fund-Raising Business. And there is a plethora of conservation organisations who come together under the International Tiger Coalition and they all want to protect tigers, and other endangered animals.
I suggest WWF, and some of the others, should get into the Tiger Farming Business, buy and breed tigers and do with them what they will — sell or give them away, or better still get into the Game Park Business where they can “own” and guard and care for their tigers.
The argument for Tiger Farming is that this is the way to save this threatened species, by breeding and raising for a profit and selling them, thus reducing the demand for stolen and poached tigers.
The argument against Tiger Farming goes like this: the cost of a stolen tiger in the wild by a poacher is very low, while the market-price of a farmed tiger is quite high, so tiger-farmers will not reduce demand, but may increase it as the tigers come to be looked on as legitimately available.
There may be as few as 4,000 wild tigers in the world, and possibly a similar number of tigers in farms. So farming may already be preserving the species. Yes, it is a shame to see animals like tigers who belong in the wild being farmed, but perhaps farming, and privately-owned tigers in privately-owned reserves and parks is a surer way to avoid extinction than trusting the job to governments and international organisations.
But surely the real argument is to privatise all the tigers! Tigers in the wild are “free” to poachers, and they are hard to protect. Government “tiger-guards” may be prone to corruption, or at best ineffective. Incentive to preserve these publicly-owned animals is low. It is a tragedy of the tiger commons.
The tragedy of the commons also applies to other threatened species when nobody owns and values them. Elephants and their tusks is another example. Wild game in Africa is poached more when it is on public land than when it is private game parks. In the private game parks there is every incentive for the owners to protect and care for their valuable assets.
I have a friend who has rescued and breeds a threatened species of small Australian wallaby, and he gives away his surplus wallabies to people he thinks will care for them. Now this is very noble of him, and when I suggest he should sell them instead of giving them away he is indignant about sullying his green and conservationist reputation by selling for a profit. Precious wildlife, it seems, is different to other species of animals — they should not be farmed or owned or sold. Profit in such cuddly things is a dirty word.
Emus are farmed, kangaroos are culled and sold, but wombats and cockatoos, and rosellas, echidnas and pretty much all Australian wildlife may not be sold for a profit. The National Parks and Wildlife Service protect their bailiwick by licensing wildlife refuges and prohibiting a market for Australian wildlife. The NPWS is not very good at keeping feral animals out of its parks or of protecting threatened species. Privately-owned fauna reserves do a better job than government-run parks.
Had the Tasmanian Tiger, a carnivorous marsupial, been privately owned and farmed and cared for it may not now be extinct. And many other species may have been saved by privatising them. Public ownership is another example of the tragedy of the commons’ and the failure of public ownership (which means no ownership).
I can imagine a bumper sticker saying “Privatise and Save the Tigers!” Enough to outrage any true greenie!
- Welcome from Neville Kennard
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- "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
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