The Impact of United Nations Trade Policies on Kenyan Elephant Population
Every day endangered species throughout the world are driven toward extinction and no extinction possibility draws more attention than the majestic African elephant. In an effort to save dwindling elephant populations, a worldwide commercial ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989 by upgrading the elephant listing from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This paper combines an ecological logistic population growth model based on habitat carrying capacity with econometric supply and demand curves to statistically demonstrate the 1989 ban reduced elephant poaching deaths in Kenya by 15,000 per year following the ban and was crucial in saving the Kenyan elephant from extirpation. The ecological logistic model fills gaps in actual verifiable data with satisfactory accuracy and provides input data into the econometric model. The resulting bioeconometric model builds on the observation that worldwide behavior defines ivory demand while local attitudes control supply and the model measures the shift in demand following U.N. ban enactment. Since the 1989 ban was enacted, because of regional economic pressure, the U.N. has experimented with limited exceptions to the ivory ban. Accordingly, this paper investigates the impact of these actions on elephant populations, too. This study is the first to demonstrate how simple bioeconometrics can quantitatively measure a shift in demand and the resulting impact on target populations, and should prove useful for protecting endangered species by providing important quantitative bioeconomic feedback for policymakers both in Africa and elsewhere.