Southern African nations are at it again. Journalist Nyasha Chingono reported in late May that those “hosting the largest elephant populations in the world made a fresh pitch ... to be allowed to sell their $1bn ivory stockpiles”, purportedly to allocate it towards conservation. How they derive this figure is unclear, and the report doesn’t question its veracity.

Current ivory prices are about $400/kg in illicit markets in the East and averaging about $92/kg across Africa (except for Nigeria, which has now become the continent’s major export hub). Assuming away the problem of who exactly would buy this stockpile, these countries would need to sell about 10,000 tonnes (at $100/kg) to get $1bn...

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