opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
John Stossel
John Stossel
25 Nov 2015

What might have happened if a few of the 1,500 concert attendees in Paris' Bataclan theater had guns? The … Read More.

18 Nov 2015
Anti-Liberty Politicians

After a terrorist attack, it's natural to ask: What can politicians do to keep us safe? One thing they could … Read More.

11 Nov 2015
My Trump Problem

Sometimes I like Donald Trump. He makes me laugh when he mocks reporters' stupid questions. Sometimes he's smart.… Read More.

Eat the Tigers!


In India, China and Russia, there were once 100,000 wild tigers. Today, only a few thousand survive.

They've disappeared because poachers kill them to sell crushed tiger bone, which is made into a paste that is supposed to kill pain.

The usual solution is to ban the sale of these products. Actor Harrison Ford says in a public-service announcement, "When the buying stops, the killing can, too. Case closed!"

But the case isn't closed. The ban is 33 years old, yet the tigers still disappear.

"If we continue the current approach, ... the tiger is doomed," Terry Anderson of PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center (, told me for my ABC special "You Can't Even Talk About It" (

Anderson points out that governments have repeatedly failed to save animals by banning their sale. They've failed with the Colobus monkey in West Africa, the alligator in China and now with the tiger in Asia.

How do we save them? Here's an idea. Let's sell them! And eat them!

A hundred years ago, American bison were almost extinct. Why? Because no one owned them and had the incentive to protect them. People just killed them.

Then ranchers began to fence in the bison and farm them. Today, America has half a million bison.

Does America have a shortage of chickens? No. Because we eat them. I realize this is counterintuitive. Expand animal populations by letting people consume them? The conventional thinking seems so much more sensible — and sensitive.

But it's simpleminded. In Africa, rhinos were disappearing because poachers killed them for their horns, considered an aphrodisiac. African governments banned the products, but this did little good. A black market, complete with official corruption, arose. The government's game wardens took bribes or slept on the job.

"It was a complete failure," says Dr. Brian Child, who spent 20 years in Africa working to save endangered species. "Wildlife was disappearing everywhere."

What finally worked, he says, was letting landowners own rhinos so they could make money off them from tourism.

Suddenly, each tribe had skin in the game, and an incentive to protect its own rhinos.

It's human nature. No government protects resources as effectively as you protect your own property. In Africa, says Anderson, those indifferent security guards suddenly became fierce protectors of their tribal rhinos.

He asked one: "What happens if you catch a poacher? You kill him? He said, 'No, we just beat them up. They go back to their village and don't ever come back.' These people don't tolerate poaching because they want to keep the animals alive. They allow hunting. They allow photography. That is the way to save wildlife."

In China, thousands of tigers survive only because some tiger farms protect them. Their owners hope that next year the Chinese government will lift its ban on tiger product sales. Then they can make money off the traditional medicines.

That would be terrible, American conservation groups say.

"There is no need to farm tigers," says Judy Mills, of Conservation International ( "[A] survey that we did recently in China ... showed that 90 percent of Chinese people actually support the ban."

It's nice that they said that, but half the people polled also said that they'd consumed products they thought contained tiger.

She conceded the point: "We know that Chinese people believe that having a bottle of tiger-bone wine in the cupboard is a nice thing to have around in case somebody has some aches and pains."

So what does it matter if they say they like the ban?

"Our method is working. But to a certain degree, it hasn't had a chance to work."

Please. Thirty-three years? How long can we wait? It's such a conceit for conservation groups to think a government decree can change thousands of years of culture.

What has worked is letting people own and profit from the sale of exotic animals. It's worked with elephants in Zimbabwe, rhinos in southern Africa and the bison in America.

Says Anderson, "If we make animals a marketable product, they will be saved."

John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20" and the author of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




1 Comments | Post Comment
I hope it works. Even if its banned, it could go on, like the tigers. Hopefully the people in Thailand are cooperative.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Kaitlynn Garzon
Mon May 6, 2013 5:00 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
John Stossel
Nov. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 30 Nov 2015
Suzanne Fields
Suzanne FieldsUpdated 27 Nov 2015
Jamie Stiehm
Jamie StiehmUpdated 27 Nov 2015

29 Apr 2015 What Creates Jobs

27 Jun 2012 In Praise of Discrimination

21 Jan 2009 Anything That's Peaceful