I appreciate you made a short answer in the middle of a long post but you've lost me. How does enforcement of property rights prevent extinction if the owner of the whales is killing them off on his own property?
That's not likely to happen. At the very least, even if there is no money to be made in keeping whales alive, there will be organizations like the Sierra Club that will homestead large chunks of the ocean and protect whales that live there. I'll donate $100 right now if there was such a system in place. I'm sure many people would too and a few rich people would donate much more.
You can't homestead an ocean. Japanese whalers would have first claim.
Interesting concept though. It assumes that people will take care of the species if they own it. I'd want a guarantee as there are a minority of jerks in the world and if one owned all whales he should not have the right to exterminate them but assuming a decent owner you are probably correct.
This seems like it would be hard to implement with ocean species, but not impossible. It does seem more feasible for endangered land species like tigers which, despite laws and regulations and the best efforts of governments, are going extinct. I'm not sure exactly how that would work, perhaps privately owned tiger reserves open to tourists, perhaps tiger "farms" where some percentage of the population was butchered and sold to the market for their hides, body parts, etc. but where a stable population was maintained to ensure continuity of the species. I'm willing to try it though, because if something doesn't happen tigers will be extinct within a few decades.
Thank you for taking the time to intelligently think about the issues, rather than think that cats and dogs are really relevant.
Tiger reserves are definitely necessary - privately funded if that's the solution that presents itself. Tigers, like all big cats, are territorial. They certainly fit the criteria necessary to be declared an umbrella species, flagship species, or whatever you wish to call them. Since tigers are territorial, they need large expanses of land to maintain a small number.
A side not regarding umbrella species: often the purpose of declaring a species to be an umbrella species is because research has shown that by protecting an umbrella species, a by-product is the protection of the environment which is necessary to sustain the umbrella species. This has the net effect of preserving the entire food chain all the way down to the microscopic level, both flora and fauna. The spotted owl controversy wasn't just about protecting the spotted owl, but the entire old growth forest it requires to maintain a viable population. It has been shown that the spotted owl cannot survive effectively in numbers in secondary growth forests. Given that 80 percent (yes - 80 percent) of all the Earth's old growth forests have been decimated, mostly for agricultural and timber purposes, it is imperative that the remaining old growth forests be preserved.
Regarding tiger farms - is this realistic or desirable? Many animals are very difficult to breed in captivity, but it has been done with tigers at zoos. But you would promote breeding tigers for harvesting of their hides? At least with cattle, every component of a cow is used. For example, their hooves are used to make Jello and Gummy Bears.
Tiger skins go for as much as $20k and their bones another $1000. People own cow herds and chicken herds where these animals sell for far less a piece. I understand that tigers require a lot more space and can't be kept in cost efficient herds like domestic livestock, but the much higher price they fetch might be enough to compensate private owners of tiger reserves, especially if combined with tourism. The owner of the reserve would have a very personal incentive to crack down on poachers and protect his tigers: profit.
It seems that you're implying that some portion of the free roaming tigers could be harvested for their hides. Given the space required for tigers, this doesn't seem realistic to maintain a viable population.
And if you're worried that the owner might buy all the tigers and then slaughter all of them for a quick buck, you could have the governments relinquish control of the land and tigers under the condition that the owner had to keep some x number of tigers or y% of the population alive at any given time. Work it into the contract.
This reminds me of the scenario with the Sumatran rhino. Some affluent Chinese mistakenly believe that the Sumatran rhino's horn is of medicinal value. Research indicates there is no medicinal value. But the plight of the Sumatran rhino illustrates why harvesting rhino horns is not directly analogous to the supply and demand curve. Supply, as in economic theory refers to goods on the shelf, not an ever dwindling natural resource. Big difference. As the rhinos' numbers dwindle, the price of their horns skyrocket. Poachers then increase their efforts, methods, and technology to more efficiently exploit the last remaining Sumatran rhinos in existence. It only leads to extinction.
Regarding megafauna (typically animals over 100 pounds), ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in. One in which there are many wild places where large animals still roam, or one in which the wild places continue to disappear, along with the megafauna which lived there?
Are you familiar with the coincident extinction of megafauna on nearly all continents with the first arrival of humans? Think about this. How many new species of large animals has mankind witnessed in the past 20,000 years as opposed to those we will never see again? New large species are not just popping into existence. We live in a world decidedly less rich than it used to be. How far do you want to see it go? Tigers and Sumatran rhinos are nearly gone. Some whales are nearly gone. African elephants are in trouble. So is the cheetah and jaguar. Gorillas and orangutans too. Same for the mountain lion. The list goes on. Did you know the jaguar used to range through the southwestern portion of the United States?
What will you never see? Here's a list of megafauna species that disappeared with the arrival of humans to the continent in question:
North America: Mammoths, mastodons, camels, pronghorn antelope, giant beaver, tapirs, several bears, dire wolves, several sloths.
Australia and New Guinea: several giant wombats, a rhino, six different types of kangaroo, several giant marsupials, several giant flightless birds.
New Zealand: The Moa and a few other giant flightless birds.
Pacific islands: several birds, crocodiles and turtles.
South America and Eurasia suffered similar extinctions coincident with the arrival of humans.
Why were the large animals spared in Africa? First of all, isn't it interesting that there are such large and interesting animals on the African continent but not on other continents? The assumption might be that the other continents just don't naturally support megafauna. But that's not true! Megafauna are normal. So unless you live in Africa, you're not seeing the richness in animal life that is normal. Why does Africa still have its megafauna? Because the megafauna in Africa evolved in parallel with humans, and they developed a natural instinct to be wary of humans. As humans ventured out of Africa and ultimately onto the other continents, the megafauna there had no reason to be naturally wary of the skinny little humans, and thus made easy targets.