The Environment: Own It and Save It
By David Henderson
The title of this blog post is the same as the title of one of my chapters in The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey. In that chapter, I show how private ownership of resources leads people to take better care of them.
But it also could have been the title of the latest post by Timothy Taylor (aka The Conversable Economist). In “Property Rights and Saving the Rhino,” Taylor highlights a study done by Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes for the Property and Environment Research Center. The study is titled “Saving African Rhinos: A Market Success Story.”
Here’s a key paragraph from Taylor:
For a sense of how much difference these issues of property rights and incentives can make to conservation, consider the difference in populations between black and white rhinos. Sas-Rolfes explains: “Figure 2 shows trends in white rhino numbers from 1960 until 2007. Contrast those numbers with the black rhino, which mostly lived in African countries with weak or absent wildlife market institutions such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. In 1960, about 100,000 black rhinos roamed across Africa, but by the early 1990s poachers had reduced their numbers to less than 2,500. . . . Unprotected wild rhino populations are rare to non-existent in modern Africa. The only surviving African rhinos remain either in countries with strong wildlife market institutions (such as South Africa and Namibia) or in intensively protected zones.”