[EconTalk] Catherine Semcer on Poaching, Preserves, and African Wildlife

Catherine Semcer on Poaching, Preserves, and African Wildlife

18/02/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=63864639
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Semcerpoaching.mp3

Catherine Semcer of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the role of incentives in preserving wildlife in Africa. The conversation discusses how allowing limited hunting of big game such as elephants and using revenue from hunting licenses to reward local communities for habitat stewardship has improved both habitat and wildlife populations while reducing poaching. Semcer draws on her experience as former Chief Operating Officer of Humanitarian Operations Protecting Elephants and also discusses recent efforts to re-locate lions in Mozambique.

Listen Date: 2019-03-25


  • This was a bit of the bog-standard libertarian defence for private wildlife preserves; which is not to say that it was wrong, just nothing terribly new – except for providing concrete examples of where private wildlife management gets things right. I wonder if there are counter-interviews out there showing what the same preserves get wrong.
  • I get the utilitarian argument for allowing limited hunting to make the larger habitat and population viable and sustainable. I also know that taking it to its logical conclusion means that I should defend hunters’ freedom to hunt and take home their trophies. I still find it morally distasteful that preserving the whole means allowing people to kill the one.
  • The movie parallels to the above point are of course Star Trek: The Search for Spock (“The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.”) and Toy Story 3, with Lotso sacrificing toy upon toy to vicious daycare kids to keep the larger collection going.
  • Catherine Semcer seemed extraordinarily short on details during the episode. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that, but it made for a weak interview.

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