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Abstract

Ivory poachers threaten the half million remaining African elephants. In response, Kremer and Morcom (2000) offer a novel solution to reduce the risk of extinction -- a local government can stockpile ivory and threaten to dump it on the market if the elephant population falls too low lowering the expected returns from ivory sales and driving poachers out of business). We show that ivory stockpiling could be detrimental to elephant conservation because large stocks create strong incentives for strategic extinction by African governments. This result suggests an alternative strategy to enhance the viability of African elephant stocks -- international conservation organizations rather than governments should hold the stockpiles.

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