Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tragedy of the Commons---Epic fail?? Are Tigers Doomed???

I never said that solving the Tragedy of the Commmons would be pretty. 

NYTimes:"Tiger Farms in China Feed Thrist For Parts"
With pelts selling for $20,000 and a single paw worth as much as $1,000, the value of a dead tiger has never been higher, say those who investigate the trade. Last month the Indian government announced a surge in killings of tigers by poachers, with 88 found dead in 2009, double the previous year. Because figures are based on carcasses found on reserves or tiger parts seized at border crossings, conservationists say the true number is far higher.
The market is driven by demand almost exclusively by the Chinese.  An emerging middle class with increasing disposable income has contributed to the problem.
“All of the demand for tiger parts is coming from China,” said Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. “Unless the Chinese change their attitude, the tiger has no future on this earth.”
Accoding to the lessons of "The Commons" private ownership and developing markets for "tiger parts" would relieve the need for poaching in the wilds.  It would increase the supply and drive down the price, therefore providing a dis-incentive for illegal poaching, as the opportunity cost of doing so would increase.  Seems in this case, the economic concept is being trumpeted by cultural barriers that cannot be fully accounted for with The Commons...
...If the ban were lifted, critics say, trade in farm-bred tigers would simply provide cover for poached tigers, which are far cheaper to harvest and bring in far higher prices because most Chinese believe the healing properties of wild tigers are greater than those raised in cages.
Questions to ask:
1. Is the "Tragedy of the Commons" invalid in this particular situation?
2. How can the cultural barrier be overcome to ensure the survival of Tigers in capitivity/the wild?
3. How would you solve this problem?
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