Environmental Conservation

The dynamics of avicultural markets

Jennifer M. Robinson a1c1
a1 School of Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia 6150


Trade restrictions stemming from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have created a situation in which rare and attractive bird species command high prices on international pet markets. Most of these species are of tropical or subtropical origin, and many are amenable to captive breeding. Hence, the possibility of exporting birds under CITES provisions for the export of captive-raised animals is under debate in many countries around the world. If export bans are replaced by systems of export permits, the economics of avicultural markets will govern the magnitude, timing, and nature of the impacts of the bird trade. Avicultural economics, however, is little studied, and the long-term economic viabilities of exotic pet markets are poorly understood. In order to elucidate these, a dynamic model of an avicultural market was constructed, based on descriptive information. Model simulations showed that the high prices commanded by sought-after bird species tended to bring about oversupply and rapid price decline. Short-lived, fecund species produced a rapid, sharp pulse of oversupply; longer-lived species produced more persistent but less acute conditions of oversupply. The present high prices for protected bird species may be regarded as a potential source of windfall profits, or as a factor that might be manipulated to discourage the poaching and smuggling of wild birds. If export-oriented aviculture is considered as a component of strategies for diversification of agriculture and promotion of sustainable development, it is important that decision-makers factor in the likelihood of significant declines in bird prices and that they consider the risk of accidental species introductions that is inherent in holding large exotic-bird populations.

(Received May 5 2000)
(Accepted October 20 2000)

Key Words: exotic pet; market; aviculture; model; economic risk.

c1 Correspondence: Dr Jennifer M. Robinson Tel: +61 89360 6102 Fax: +61 89310 4997 e-mail: jrobin@central.murdoch.edu.au