In the New York Times, Barun Mitra writes:
Which country is thinking about applying free-market principles to wildlife preservation and, in the process, improving the survival chances of a long-endangered species while giving its economy a boost?
Communist China, of course.
…Of the planet’s estimated 5,000 wild tigers, about 75 percent are in India, which, like most nations, believes that commerce and conservation are incompatible. Only a relative handful of tigers ” probably a few dozen ” can be found in China’s forests. (The United States is home to some 10,000 tigers, owned by zoos and private citizens.) The tiger, in short, is still staring at extinction.
But like forests, animals are renewable resources. If you think of tigers as products, it becomes clear that demand provides opportunity, rather than posing a threat. For instance, there are perhaps 1.5 billion head of cattle and buffalo and 2 billion goats and sheep in the world today. These are among the most exploited of animals, yet they are not in danger of dying out; there is incentive, in these instances, for humans to conserve. [Full text]
Read about a plan by the Chinese government to use market principles to save endangered species.