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Rights to trade for species conservation: exploring the issue of the radiated tortoise in Madagascar

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2014

Animal Ecology and Conservation, Hamburg University, Martin-Luther-King Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Départment Biologie Animale, Université d’Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
Animal Ecology and Conservation, Hamburg University, Martin-Luther-King Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Faculté des Sciences, Université de Tuléar, Tuléar, Madagascar
Faculté des Sciences, Université de Tuléar, Tuléar, Madagascar
Voakayj, Lot II F 14 P Bis A Andraisoro, BP 5181, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar
Environmental Economics, Brandenburg University of Technology, Erich-Weinert-Strasse 1, 03046 Cottbus, Germany
Environmental Economics, Brandenburg University of Technology, Erich-Weinert-Strasse 1, 03046 Cottbus, Germany
Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems, Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK and Nautilus Ecology, Oak House, Pond Lane, Greetham, Rutland LE15 7NW, UK
*Correspondence: Jörg U. Ganzhorn e-mail:


In many developing countries, people rely on natural resources for subsistence and cash income. The trade ban on species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List may be counter-productive, as increasing the rarity and thus price of these species acts as a stimulus to illegal markets rather than a deterrent. Since illegal markets cannot have legal property rights, there is no basis for any form of sustainable harvesting based on property rights. The Malagsy radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is an example of a species that is threatened by domestic and international trade; legalizing international trade could, under certain circumstances, provide financial incentives that might effectively reduce the domestic trade and subsistence harvest of this animal. This paper argues this critically-endangered species may be more effectively conserved by assigning trading rights to local communities, rather than demanding a trade ban that cannot be enforced successfully.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2014 

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