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You Save Money When You Save the Elephants, Research Claims

Nov 15, 2016 04:51 AM EST
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African elephants at "imminent risk" of extinction

Africa is known for its great savannas and exquisite wildlife, including the sought-after elephants that freely roam on the continent's horizon. But alongside this, poaching and elephant killings are rampant, and according to recent findings, spending some for elephant conservation can actually mean saving and earning more.

Through the initiative of the WWF and in collaboration with the University of Vermont and University of Cambridge, a valuation study was made to weigh the possible losses that the Africa may experience due to the increasing cases of ivory trade and elephant killings in the continent. Since elephants were the most desired animal for wildlife viewing in Africa, its decrease in population causes imminent danger to their ecotourism industry.

Using the Bayesian Statistical Modelling and economic valuation techniques, the team of experts arrived at a conservative estimate on how much Africa might lose if wildlife killings will not be resolved. According to their findings, with the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 elephants killed annually, a loss of US$6.1 million every year is possible. This value still excludes the indirect and induced spending that runs with a mean average of US$16.4 million, which when summed up would eventually mean so much.

Now, evaluating the conservation costs, the team found out that investing in efforts to save the elephants can actually help Africa not to loose that much and in fact earn some more. “While there have always been strong moral and ethical arguments for conserving elephants, not everyone shares this viewpoint,”lead author and lead wildlife scientist from WWF Dr. Robin Naidoo said. "Our research now shows that investing in elephant conservation is actually a smart economic policy for many African countries,” he added.

To make their results more understandable, Dr. Brendan Fisher who is an economist from the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Economics stated a comprehendable deal to the public. “For every dollar invested in east Africa, you get about $1.78 back. That's a great deal," Dr. Fisher mentioned.

Read here: Full paper on Elephant Valuation and Ecotourism in Africa

For the past decades, Africa has been suffering from elephant population depletion. The two species that are under conservation, the savannah (Loxodonta africana) and forest (Loxodonta cyclotis) elephants, run with really low populations in the wild. For instance, with the recorded 110,000 individuals recorded in the Sealous Game Reserve in Tanzania, now there are only around 15,000 elephants that remain within the protected area.

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