Why is the cow not extinct?

Why is the cow not extinct? How Private ownership and personal greed favours evolution

Why is the cow not extinct And economics has the answer!

Throughout the history, many species of animals have been threatened with extinction. When Europeans first arrived, more than 60 million buffalo roamed the continent of North America. Yet hunting the buffalo was so popular during the nineteenth century. It was such that by 1900 the animal’s population had fallen to about 400 and so the government had to step in to protect the species. In some African countries today, the elephant faces a similar challenge, as the animals are killed by the poachers for the ivory in their tusks.

Yet not all animals with commercial  value face this threat. The cow, for example,  being a valuable source of food, but have you seen anybody worrying about the cow being extinct. No! Indeed, the great demand for beef surely ensures that the cow population will continue to thrive.

Why does the commercial value of ivory threatens the elephant while the commercial value of beef protects the cow? The reason is that elephants are a common resource while cows are a private good. You must have seen elephants roaming freely without any owners. Each poacher has a strong incentive to kill as many elephants as they can manage to find. Being so numerous, there is only a slight incentive that the poachers have to preserve the elephant population. By contrast, cattles that are privately owned live on ranches. Each rancher thus makes great effort to maintain the cattle population on his ranch because of the benefits which he reaps out of his efforts.

Governments have tried to solve the elephants’ problem in two ways. Few countries, such as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda,  have made it illegal to kill elephants and sell their ivory. Yet these laws have been hard to enforce, and the elephant populations have continued to dwindle. By contrast, other countries,  such as  Namibia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana,   have made elephants a private good by allowing people to kill only those elephants that are on their own property.  The landowners now have an incentive to preserve the species on their own land, and as a result, a rise in the elephant population has been observed. With  the profit motive and private ownership now on its side, the African elephant might someday be as safe from extinction as the cow.

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