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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!

(in order of appearance on
  1. Welcome from Neville Kennard
  2. Think Tanks Don't Work
  3. "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
  4. The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
  5. Corporate Welfare
  6. Citizenship for Sale?
  7. I Don't Vote
  8. Voting: Right or Privilege?
  9. Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
  10. Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
  11. Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
  12. Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
  13. Government Likes War
  14. Collusion is Our Right
  15. Why Not the Drug Olympics?
  16. Unconventional Wisdom
  17. Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
  18. Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
  19. Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
  20. Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
  21. Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
  22. Separating Sport and State
  23. Your Home is Not an Investment
  24. Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
  25. A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
  26. Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
  27. Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
  28. What is a good Australian?
  29. Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
  30. The Market Failure Industry
  31. Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
  32. Wot if ...?
  33. The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
  34. The Tannehills
  35. Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
  36. Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
  37. Minarchy vs Anarchy
  38. Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
  39. The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
  40. Is Howard Our Best PM?
  41. Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
  42. Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
  43. Authoritarian Freedom
  44. Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
  45. The Tyranny of the Majority
  46. If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
  47. Business Should Exploit Boat People
  48. The Immorality of Trade Unions
  49. "America" vs "The United States"
  50. Sweet Anarchy
  51. The Illusion of "Job Creation"
  52. Gold Is Money
  53. Guilty Capitalists
  54. Bureauphobia
  55. Prosperity vs Growth
  56. Capitalism vs Democracy
  57. More people = More fun
  58. Self-Ownership - the very idea!
  59. Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
  60. The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
  61. Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
  62. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  63. Government Needs Bad Guys –
    that's why they like wars
  64. What Is Obscene?
  65. Traffic Economics
  66. Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
  67. Neville Kennard Obituary
  68. Neville Kennard in 1979 proposes new alliances to end penalty rates
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