IFAW Needs Basic Economics Lesson

In order to protest the sale of ivory, the International Fund for Animal Welfare publicly destroyed a giant elephant tusk constructed from various pieces of ivory in London’s Trafalgar Square. But it seems a bit confused about its motivation.

According to IFAW’s wildlife campaigner, Jenny Hawley,

Elephants are intelligent and sociable animals, capable of enormous suffering. Many populations are also at risk of extinction. People must remember that every ivory item they buy increases the demand, which is met by poacher. IFAW believes ivory belongs to elephants. The only way to stop elephants being killed for their tusks is to make ivory worthless.

Where did Hawley get her economics degree from? By publicly destroying ivory, the IFAW sends a clear signal that the amount of ivory available for sale, legally or illegally, has just declined. And what happens when the quantity of a commodity for sale declines (all other things being equal) — its value increases.

Hawley continues,

By destroying its own ‘stockpile’, IFAW is calling for all countries with ivory stockpiles to put them beyond use for ever. If we want to safeguard the future of elephants, then all international discussions must focus on proper long-term conservation measures rather than trade.

But, again, destroying such stockpiles would simply send the price of ivory skyrocketing which would make elephants an even more lucrative target for poachers.

Protecting elephants from poaching by strangling the supply of ivory will work just as effectively as stopping illegal drugs by attempting to strangle the supply has.


IFAW destroys giant tusk of unwanted ivory in its campaign to protect elephants. Press Release, International Fund for Animal Welfare, April 12, 2005.

CITES Lifts Hunting Ban on Black Rhinos

As recently as the mid-1990s, there were only an estimated 2,400 black rhinos in the wild, down from a high of about 65,000 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Conservation efforts over the past decade have increased the black rhinos numbers to an estimated 3,600 to 11,000 animals.

With the resurgence in numbers, South Africa and Namibia have been pushing to re-open very limited trophy hunting of the black rhinos, and in October the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species agreed to both country’s proposals to resume extremely limited hunting of black rhinos.

Both South African and Namibia requested annual quotas of five black rhinos. Both countries believe they will be able to sell the right to kill the small number of rhinos for tens of thousands of dollars per animal which they will be able to use to help fund their conservation efforts. Both countries say that they will restrict hunters to killing older, non-breeding males to avoid any long-term impact on the size of the black rhino herds.

Still, animal rights activists and environmentalists complained that even a very small hunt is likely to encourage potential poachers. Jason Bell-Leask of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told Reuters,

We know rhinos are still being poached for their horns and the poachers are indiscriminate, so we think this proposal sends out the wrong signal.


Limited rhino hunt allowed in SA, Namibia. Afrol News, October 4, 2004.

African nations seek to end black rhino hunting ban. Stuff (New Zealand), September 20, 2004.

Global ban on black rhino hunt is eased. Reuters, October 4, 2004.

More than Thirty Groups Oppose Australian Plan to Allow Hunting of Saltwater Crocodiles

More than thirty animal-related groups, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Humane Society International, recently signed a petition opposing Australia’s plans to allow hunting of saltwater crocodiles.

Australia halted saltwater crocodile hunting in 1971 after the population of the species had declined to an estimated 3,000. Today, however, the population is estimated to top 75,000.

According to The Cape Argus, Australia’s Northern Territory has for the past five years issued permits to private land owners to kill up to 600 saltwater crocodiles annually. It now has plans to issue safari permits that would allow 25 of that 600 crocodile quote to be hunted as part of a safari.

Officials in the Northern Territory argue that safari hunters would bring in thousands of dollars in tourist money as compared to the few hundreds of dollars that land owners receive from the meat and skin of each crocodile.


Hands off the salties, say animal lovers. Cape Argus, May 9, 2004.

Senate Resolution Condemning Canadian Seal Hunt Recommended by Senate Foreign Relations Committee

According to a press release by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has recommended that the full Senate consider a resolution condemning the resumption of the commercial seal hunt in Canada. According to the Senate web site on the bill, however, no action has been taken on the bill other than the addition of several co-sponsors.

Regardless, the resolution was introduced in November 2003 by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), and read, in part,

Whereas the persistence of this cruel and needless commercial hunt is inconsistent with the well-earned international reputation of Canada: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate urges the Government of Canada to end the commercial hunt on seals that opened in the waters off the east coast of Canada on November 15, 2003.

In its press release, IFAW president Fred O’Regan said of the proposed resolution,

This move illustrates that the international opposition to the Canadian seal hunt is not a fringe opinion, but a worldwide consensus that ranges from the halls of government to the man on the street. The issues are the same as they were when IFAW began, 35 years ago, to stop the hunt. Killing baby seals doesn’t make sense economically, ecologically or in regard to the humane treatment of animals.

It is unclear how O’Regan makes the leap that a Senate committee recommending that a proposed resolution go to the full Senate for a vote represents proof of “a worldwide consensus” on the Canadian seal hunt.

The full text of the resolution can be read here.


U.S. Senate Moves Closer to Condemning Canadian Seal Hunt. Press Release, International Fund for Animal Welfare, May 3, 2004.

WWF Gets Grief Over its Seal Cull Support

The World Wildlife Fund has been getting a lot of grief from the usual suspects of late over its support over a Canadian plan to kill about a million seals over the next three years.

In 1970 there were only about 1.8 million harp seals in the North Atlantic, but today there are believed to be around 5.2 million. Saying that the seal population is now healthy, Canada authorized an expansion of seal hunting.

Hunters will be allowed to kill a total of 975,000 seals over the next three years, with a maximum in any given year of 350,000 seals. The Canadian government argues that the seal cull helps protect fish stocks as well as provide jobs.

But the announcement angered animal rights activists such as Brigitte Bardot (and when you’ve got a has-been actress opposing you, your options are really limited). Bardot wrote a letter to the World Wildlife Fund, which supports the plan, saying,

How can an organization that you preside over and that has no need to prove its reputation in the domain of the conservation of species anymore, defend such a scandalous position.

. . .

I have often supported WWF, given my image to some of its programmes, and I feel betrayed, it has attacked my most symbolic battle.

Similarly, the International Fund for Animal Welfare complained that the Canadian government planned to “devastate seal populations.” An IFAW press release quoted its president, Fred O’Regan, as saying,

The Canadian government has just returned to the 1800s in terms of animal welfare and conservation. Their decision raises a host of questions: Where is the scientific justification for killing so many seals? How will the government safeguard a much larger hunt against cruelty? Where are the markets for the pelts?

Meanwhile the World Wildlife Fund – Canada responded to criticism by saying that although it disagrees with the Canadian government’s position that seals are endangering fish stocks,

As long as the commercial hunt for harp seals off the coast of Canada is of no threat to the population of over 5 million harp seals, there is no biological reason for WWF-Canada to reconsider its current priorities and actively oppose the annual harvest of harp seals.

We were in contact with Canadian government officials before they set the new quota. Our ongoing conservation concern has been that the commercial hunt for harp seals should never endanger the population. We believe harp seals should thrive in the Atlantic Ocean around the Canadian coast, now and in the future.


Bardot slams WWF over seal cull. AAP, March 18, 2003.

Canada expands seal cull as environmentalists fume. Reuters, February 4, 2003.

Canada to Unveil Massive Seal Cull Plan. Press Release, International Fund for Animal Welfare, January 28, 2003.

Animal Rights Activist Forced to Resign as NDP Chief of Staff

Less than two weeks after he was elected as the leader of Canada’s socialist New Democrat Party, Jack Layton accepted the resignation of his chief of staff Rick Smith after a controversy arose over Smith’s past work against the seal hunt.

Until leaving to accept the chief of staff position, Smith was director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare which has actively fought against the seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland and parts of the Maritimes.

New Democratic Party officials in Newfoundland strongly protested Smith’s selection. After a caucus meeting of the party this week, Layton announced that he and Smith and discussed the controversy and Layton had accepted Smith’s resignation. Layton reiterated that he supports the seal hunt.

International Fund for Animal Welfare spokesperson Katy Heath-Eves was not pleased by this turn of events. “It’s so unfortunate that it’s a card that’s in the pocket of some politicians and they’re playing this card,” Heath-Eves said.


Layton’s chief of staff resigns. The Globe and Mail, Feb. 5, 2003.

Ex-animal rights crusader quits as Layton aide. The Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 6, 2003.

Jack Layton’s chief of staff resigns. Bill Curry, National Post, Feb. 6, 2003.