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Elephants and mammoths: the effect of an imperfect legal substitute on illegal activity

  • Naima Farah (a1) and John R. Boyce (a2)

Abstract

In response to the CITES ban on trade in elephant ivory, mammoth ivory began to be produced in post-Soviet Russia. We investigate how this substitute to elephant ivory has affected the poaching of elephants. We argue that the early success of the 1989 ivory ban at increasing the African elephant population was driven in part by increasing supply of mammoth ivory. The more recent increases in poaching appear to be driven by increasing demand and falling African institutional quality. We find that absent the 80 tonnes of Russian mammoth ivory exports per annum 2010–2012, elephant ivory prices would have doubled from their $ 100 per kilogram level and that the current poaching level of 34,000 elephants per year may have increased by as many as 55,000 elephants per year on a population of roughly half a million animals.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: boyce@ucalgary.ca

References

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Elephants and mammoths: the effect of an imperfect legal substitute on illegal activity

  • Naima Farah (a1) and John R. Boyce (a2)

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