Does alligator farming support conservation

Brendan Moyle, an economist from New Zealand asks if wildlife farming can contribute to conservation. One side of the debate advocates farming as a way to depress prices and thus the incentive to poach whilst others dismiss farming on the grounds that it allegedly “stimulates” demand. In an article in Biodiversity and Conservation, Moyle carries out a regression analysis on three decades of harvest data from alligator ranching in Louisiana and concludes the following:

“the two products (ranched and wild harvested) show persistent segmentation rather than being close substitutes…the correlation in growth (i.e. increased demand for wild due to growth in farming) is spurious as the two markets have different trajectories and some unique factors. This is also why farming and wild harvest is able to coexist. Nonetheless, alligator farming has contributed to the suppression of poaching by competing on non price dimensions (i.e. quality), and to habitat protection”.

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