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The recent Stuff news article on the dwindling kea numbers brought up the comparison with the tiger. Keas (a native parrot) have dwindled and the keen conservationists trying to avert this, point out that they get a lot less money than tigers.


This isn't really a great revelation because, well, nothing gets more money than the tiger. And sadly, tiger conservation has been one of the most conspicuous conservation failures we have. With tigers we seem doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, largely because of the 'feel good' factor. We use reserves, trade bans and anti-poaching measures, but never try to understand how these black-markets work. Then when the policy fails- perhaps because there are all kinds of perverse effects that make these bans counter-productive- we just decide to do the same thing year after year, but with more money.

And every year, we have less and less tigers. So the blame game begins. Apparently if we decide to use a conservation strategy that makes tigers worth $US50,000 to Asian criminals, we shouldn't expect them to take advantage of it. When your basic conservation strategy to save tigers is to make Asian criminals rich if they push them to extinction, maybe we should be rethinking the whole logic being used here.