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Killing Tigers to Save Them: Fallacies of the Farming Argument

The lucrative, illegal trade in tigers (Panthera tigris) remains a major conservation problem. Tiger farming has been proposed as a potential solution, with farmed tigers substituting for wild tigers. At first glance, this argument's logic seems simple: farming will increase the supply of tigers, prices will fall, and poaching will no longer be profitable. We contend, however, that this supply-side argument relies on mistaken assumptions. First, tiger markets are imperfect, meaning they are dominated by a few producers who control price. Second, consumers prefer wild tigers to farmed tigers and therefore the two are not pure substitutes. In economic terms, products from wild tigers are luxury goods, commanding a price premium. Third, there is no evidence that farmed tigers can be produced or sold more cheaply than wild tigers. In sum, it is unlikely that farming will drive down the price of wild-caught tigers or decrease profitability for tiger poachers. Rather, tiger farming is more likely to increase aggregate demand for tiger products and stimulate higher levels of poaching.

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123320995/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

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Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org
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