Sri Lanka Encourages Poachers to Kill Elephants

In my micro principles class each semester, I recount the argument in a text by Baumol and Blinder, that if governments want to save elephants, they would not crush or burn their ivory, they would supply it to the market, reducing the price, and hence reducing the incentives for poachers to kill elephants.

(p. A4) COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A group of saffron-robed monks chanted as officials crushed more than 300 elephant tusks in a seaside ceremony on Tuesday [January 26, 2016], as the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena sought to differentiate itself from its predecessor by sending a powerful message of intolerance for elephant poaching.
. . .
The ceremonial crushing of the 359 tusks began with two minutes of silence, after which the group of Buddhist monks chanted prayers for a “rebirth without suffering” for the elephants killed. In a show of religious solidarity, Hindu, Christian and Muslim leaders joined the monks in their prayers.
After the ceremony, the crushed ivory was transported to a factory in Puttalam, a district in the island’s northwest, for incineration, government officials said.

For the full story, see:
DHARISHA BASTIANS and GEETA ANAND. “Sri Lanka Destroys an Illegal Ivory Cache.” The New York Times (Weds., January 27, 2016): A4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date JAN. 26, 2016, and has the title “Sri Lanka Destroys Illegal Elephant Tusks.”)

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