Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Policy makers meet tragedy of the commons

by Alex Tabarrok:

Research commissioned by WWF at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the late 1980s found it to be as effective as rhino horn in fighting fevers, and in 1991 WWF began a campaign in Hong Kong to publicise it as an alternative. The following year, the UN Environment Programme appointed WWF ecologist Esmond Bradley Martin as its "special envoy" to persuade pharmacists across Asia to adopt saiga horn (New Scientist print edition, 9 March 1991 and 3 October 1992).

And the result?

In 1993, over a million saiga antelopes roamed the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan. Today, fewer than 30,000 remain, most of them females. So many males have been shot for their horns, which are exported to China to be used in traditional fever cures, that the antelope may not be able to recover unaided.

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