Elephant conservation and corruption beyond the ivory trade

Smith, Robert J, Biggs, Duan, Barrington, Robert, St John, Freya A V and Sas-Rolfes, Michael 't (2015) Elephant conservation and corruption beyond the ivory trade. Conservation Biology, 29 (3). p. 953. ISSN 0888-8892

[img] PDF - Published Version
Restricted to SRO admin only

Download (200kB)


African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are in decline through illegal killing for ivory, with estimated reductions in approximately 75% of 306 studied populations (Wittemyer et al. 2014). The legal trade of ivory from natural mortality and problem animal control has been suggested as a way to reduce illegal killing because it can provide a direct and regular source of funding to elephant conservationists in Africa (Stiles 2004), people who currently depend on overstretched government budgets and grants from international donors to support their work. Such international trade has not taken place since 2008, but several African countries have been stockpiling their ivory in expectation of future sales, and many countries outside Africa have legal domestic markets for ivory certified as antique or coming from these legal stockpiles. Bennett (2015) argues that such trade is counterproductive and should be banned because current legal domestic markets have been subverted by corruption and are allowing the laundering of illegal ivory and because reducing this corruption to acceptable levels within the next few decades is impossible.

The impact of corruption on conservation outcomes is often ignored, so we welcome Bennett’s article for highlighting the issue. However, singling out the ivory trade gives the impression that it is uniquely affected by corruption. We argue that corruption potentially undermines every aspect of elephant conservation and there is no evidence that any approach is more or less susceptible. Thus, the long-term future of elephants requires conservationists to learn lessons from other sectors to understand and tackle this problem.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2021 10:20
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2021 10:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/99946

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update