Considering wildlife trade legalization – ferrets and rhinos

Two links this week to reports on legalizing ownership and trade in animals.

1.Firstly, from New York where the city is considering re-legalizing the ownership of pet ferrets – underlines how hard it is to legalize something due to the burden of proof being those who want to keep ferrets, an animal few people know or understand.

“Since a bizarre incident in which Rudolph W. Giuliani verbally abused a ferret enthusiast on the radio a decade and a half ago, New York City’s ferret owners have been dealing with two major problems.

One: They are, technically, criminals.

Two: Everyone thinks they are insane”.

2.Michael ‘t Sas Rolfes explains in a new PERC report why he thinks banning wildlife trade is the wrong policy response to protect wildlife and that legalization routes should be considered. There is a clash of philosophies between the advocates of prohibition and legalization. The former policy originates he argues in the US:

“Endangered species policy in the United States follows a top-down, command-and-control approach that seeks to achieve wildlife preservation using measures such as prohibition, law enforcement, and confiscation…This top-down prohibitionist approach finds favor with preservationist groups such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare”.

By contrast:

“Namibia’s approach to conservation, shared by other countries such as South Africa, is one of sustainable use. This is a bottom-up approach which recognizes the importance of providing tangible conservation incentives to the people who live alongside dangerous wild animals: rural communities and private landowners. Both Namibia and South Africa have built strong market-oriented institutions that allow people living near wild animals to receive direct economic benefits from the wildlife. Such institutions encourage locals to view wild species as assets worthy of their custodianship and investment”.

The result, he argues is growth in animal numbers in Namibia and South Africa and decline in Kenya which has a prohibitionist policy.

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