Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges or did he really say that?
A large part of the problem with this article is simply, tiger farming isn't what the research about. I wrote two lines about tiger farms in a paper that actually detailed the organisation of the black market in tiger products. That's what the research was about.
Nothing to do with Keynesian economics, and a fair bit about me putting my arse on the line in smuggling hot-spots.
The poaching problem is that it has many tiger populations on the fast-track to extinction. That hasn't changed in a long time.
TV3 News has written a more accurate view of Brendan Moyles' paper and research into the Black Market Trade in China. At no point in my own reading of the early draft version is there any suggestion that Tiger Farming was an option. It was mentioned in a brief sentence as being an option by the Chinese Government however there was strong opposition to this. I haven't read the final paper but going on the early draft version at no time does Brendan Moyle make any of the suggestions the Herald report below has reported. I would suggest reading the TV3 News Item concerning Dr Moyles Paper on the Black Market Trade in China.
Legalise tiger trade to save species, economist urges4:00AM Saturday May 02, 2009
By Lincoln Tan
Brendan Moyle argues a market-driven approach is the most effective way of saving the tiger from extinction. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Massey University lecturer Brendan Moyle is on a one-man mission to save the tigers.
After a "secret mission" to uncover the truth behind the illegal trade in tiger products in China, the wildlife economics expert says the only way to save the animal from extinction is to legalise the tiger trade and convince the Chinese that the big cats "can make them a whole lot of money".
The trade in tiger parts has been subject to an international ban since 1987 and has been outlawed in China since 1989, but Dr Moyle says conservation and legislation have not worked and wants to see tigers farmed and trade in them legalised, just like crocodiles.
"In the 1970s, two-thirds of crocodiles [species] were endangered. Now only one-third are, and this is largely because we have legalised the trade and turned them into handbags, belts and by putting them on the menu," Dr Moyle said.
"When we go to the locals telling them that crocodiles are worth a lot of money, we get more crocodiles. What we should be doing now is going to the Chinese and convincing them that tigers are also worth a lot of money."
Dr Moyle, who has made three visits to China for his covert operation, wants tiger farming "back on the discussion table" because it would also prove to be the most sustainable option to satisfy demand without threatening the wild tiger population.
"Conservationists are failing to get to grips with the market drivers. The issue is about markets, not about zoology. This is the way to save the species," Dr Moyle said.
"Tiger farming is not the feel-good solution, but we farm crocodiles, deer, salmon, so what makes tigers so special?
"The potential benefit is that it may cause some consumers to leave the black market and switch to legally sourced ones."
China is one of the world's biggest markets for tigers, which are prized for their skin and body parts, especially bones, which some Chinese believe to be effective in treating severe bone diseases. A whole tiger can fetch up to $90,000.
Despite global conservation efforts, which Dr Moyle says cost $177 million a year, the numbers continue to decline, mostly because of illegal hunting and human encroachment.
The World Wildlife Fund estimated last year that there were only about 3500 tigers left in the wild, compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.
Education will be ineffective because the Chinese have used tiger parts for centuries, Dr Moyle said.
Dr Moyle has prepared a paper, which has been published in the journal Global Crime, saying there is no single black market for tiger products, but rather a market with geographical separation for two products - skin and bones.
Since the 1980s, a number of tiger farms have been set up in China and are believed to house 5000 captive tigers - possibly more than those which remain in the wild.
But some international conservation groups, such as the Environmental Investigation Agency, remain opposed to farming tigers as a means to combat poaching. They argue it would be cheaper to kill a wild tiger than to rear a captive one.
NZ Customs investigations manager Terry Brown said trading detected here involved mainly birds and reptiles, not tiger parts.
* Only 3500 left in the wild compared with 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.
* Hunted and poached for their skin as well as their bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
* Trading in tiger parts subject to international ban since 1987 and outlawed in China since 1989.
How to save the tigers:
Lift the ban, encourage more tiger farming and convince the locals that tigers "are worth a lot of money".