However, there is excellent seizure data available, and from that one can infer how much ivory might be entering a country. Dan Stiles suggests that a huge volume of raw, illegal ivory entering China was being stockpiled and not sold.In December 2016, China committed to execute a domestic ivory trade ban by the end of 2017.An off-the-shelf model shows that speculators will bank on elephant extinction and poach all the living stock now unless they believe that a ban will severely limit their business in the long run, in which case they would attempt to dump their stock now (the preferred option for elephant survival).
In the course of conducting research into natural resource governance, I started to see the devastation of elephants through poaching, habitat contraction and fragmentation, and other factors.
Because the ivory trade is a predominantly clandestine activity, little reliable data is available to help us ascertain how prices are formed.
Rather than calling for any hard-and-fast rules around open-access publishing, the researchers say that scientists should be highly selective when it comes to publishing information on specific habitats and locations.
"People are just starting to withhold specific habitat and location information from publications, which is promising," said Scheele.
This is because wholesale speculators might have an incentive to hoard ivory now until some discreet point in the future when the ban is lifted.
If, for instance, they expect the ban to be lifted ten years from now, they would poach living stock now in anticipation of earning future monopoly rents when the market re-opens.
Seeing this, wholesale speculators might respond by dumping their stock in turn.
Ultimately, end consumer behavior matters for influencing how speculators strategize.
One the basis of our findings, we propose that the Chinese authorities should make it explicit that the ban is indefinite, and that they take steps to indicate, monitor and communicate progress.
By doing this, they will signal credibility, preventing speculators from starting to believe that the regulators are not serious about shutting down the market.