African Institutions and the Endangered Species Act

From an op-ed I published in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis–St. Paul) this past weekend:

Not only is Tanzania a relatively corrupt country, but researchers also note extensive corruption in the hunting sector. It is for that reason that Tanzania’s minister for natural resources and tourism issued a stern warning to the Tanzania Safari Outfitters Association at a meeting in Dar es Salaam last fall, noting that corruption usually began with wealthy hunters bribing officials so that they would turn a blind eye to illegal behavior.

Instead of lobbying against placing the African lion on the endangered species list, Tanzania should seek to reform its institutions. Not only would this help protect the country’s big-game reserves, it is also a crucial step toward the sustainable development of the Tanzanian economy. A persistent finding in development economics is that dysfunctional institutions, of which corruption is a symptom, are an important cause of underdevelopment.