burning ivory Carl De Souz/Getty Images

De argumenten voor het verbranden van ivoor

JOHANNESBURG – Kenia staat op het punt zijn hele voorraad olifantenivoor te vernietigen. Ruim 100.000 kilogram van het “witte goud” – zowel in beslag genomen van stropers en illegale handelaren als op natuurlijke wijze (door een natuurlijke dood) verkregen – zal dit weekeinde in rook opgaan. In China – waar wereldwijd het grootste deel van al het ivoor wordt geconsumeerd of opgeslagen – bedraagt de onlangs gerapporteerde prijs $1.100 per kilogram, waardoor de totale waarde van het in Kenia te verbranden ivoor op grofweg $110 mln uitkomt.

De meeste economen schrikken terug voor de gedachte om iets wat zo waardevol is te vernietigen. Maar er zijn goede redenen voor een land – ook als dat zo arm als Kenia – om zijn rijkdom aan ivoor aan de vlammen toe te vertrouwen.

Om te beginnen versterkt de verwoesting van voorraden de geloofwaardigheid van de campagnes in Oost-Azië om de vraag te reduceren. Als dat laatste niet gebeurt zal het stropersprobleem nooit worden opgelost. De terugdringing van de vraag heeft ten doel de markt voor het product te verzwakken, door verandering van de consumentensmaak te bewerkstelligen. Naarmate de prijs daalt zal ook de prikkel voor stropers afnemen om olifanten te doden.

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