Stephen Franks thinks that with the advances in technology and DNA testing we could protect our wild but rare species by farming them.
This would have a two-fold success. Firstly it would provide the market with legal product, ending poaching, and secondly it would ensure the survival of the species that are threatened.
Our outdated laws against trading wildlife had a simple worthy purpose to make it unprofitable to steal animals from the wild. The prohibition is intended to prevent scarcity in the wild. Unfortunately it guarantees scarcity in the market, and therefore assured profits for thieves from wild populations.
Using DNA tests to legalise revenue for breeding can make anti-poaching laws more practically enforceable. Farmed breeding populations can be conclusively distinguishable from wild populations. DNA identification is now fine grained and cheap enough to eliminate any need for GM tags or other alterations of the farmed population.
DNA testing does not end all complications. For example if kereru farming was licenced it might be difficult to prevent wild birds from mating with farmed birds. Such species could need periodic re-profiling and re-licencing of the breeding line. Science offers a back up though. Diet oriented stable isotope tests on a feather, for example, can support DNA fingerprinting. They can show whether a bird was reared on a wild diet or a farm diet.
It will need law changes New Zealand is always the goody good in these matters and we have diligently reflected in our law the international prohibitions on trading (CITES) to which many other countries pay lip service. Read more »