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Debunking the myth that a legal trade will solve the rhino horn crisis: A system dynamics model for market demand

Douglas J. Crookes & James N. Blignaut
Publication date
May 2015

There is considerable debate in the literature over whether or not to legalise the trade in rhino horns. Here a system dynamics model is developed that considers five components: rhino abundance, rhino demand, a price model, an income model and a supply model. The results indicate that income elasticities are much greater than previously observed, while demand is relatively insensitive to price.  At the same time, legalising the trade without income modification policies did not prevent extinction.  The theory of s-curve growth may provide some indications of future growth patterns of Asian economies.  Results suggest that, even though the demand curve for rhino horn may be downward sloping as conventional theory predicts, non-conventional demand management strategies may be more effective than price orientated demand curve strategies such as trade legalisation in curbing supply.

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Series title
Working paper 520
Journal for Nature Conservation