In June of 2015, the world was introduced to the ridiculous outrage over the killing of “Cecil” the Lion. The internet was enraged that someone would have the nerve to hunt an African lion. What everyone was missing, however, is that hunting endangered species can actually save them from extinction. By allowing individuals and ranches to own endangered species and sell them or by allowing others to hunt them in a controlled environment, it creates an incentive to breed more of the species and to protect them from poaching. That’s what University at Albany, SUNY highlighted by demonstrating in the student center and distributing literature.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, in the early 1900’s there were as many as 3-5 million African elephants. Today, that number has dwindled to 470,000. According to the Division of Fish and Wildlife, there were 324 TOTAL bison left in the USA in 1884. After private ranchers began herding and breeding the animals, however, the population began to recover. leading to the more than 270,000 bison alive today.
The unique idea was incredibly well received by the student body at Albany, attracting students from not only more conservative or libertarian circles, but also students more aligned with the greens, who understood the logic behind allowing private ownership of the animals. “Allowing local farmers and ranchers to own these animals makes sense,” commented Evrim Akgungor, a junior. “I was impressed at how effective the process was for American bison. This way the people have an incentive to prevent poaching, because it is their livelihood.”
Referring to the Scimitar-Horned Oryx, which is extinct in the wild but thriving on private ranches, the Division of Fish and Wildlife said in 2012: “Hunting…provides an economic incentive to continue to breed these species…hunting reduces the threat of the species’ extinction.”
It is humane to allow the hunting and trade of elephant products by private breeders to create an economic incentive to keep elephants alive and grow the species. When governments ban the sale of ivory, for example, it makes the black market price of the product skyrocket, making poaching and ravaging of the species by poor residents extremely attractive. Elephants, and other endangered species, will only be saved by property rights and free markets.