MA IDS Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA

First Supervisor

Mihail Iordanov, Ph.D.


The growing illegal wildlife trade, including the illegal trade of elephant ivory, has damaging ecological, social, economic, political, and health impacts. The growing transnational illicit ivory trade is increasingly supplied with ivory from African elephant poaching and unsecure, poorly managed ivory stockpiles legally owned by African elephant range states. If unabated, the illegal ivory trade poses a serious threat to sustainable conservation, human security, and international development. My master thesis is focused on the management of ivory stockpiles in sub-Saharan Africa as one of the necessary actions to combat the illegal ivory trade. It is accepted by the international community that collective action through the use of united, cooperative strategies is the most effective approach for combatting the illicit trade of wildlife and their products. However, African elephant range states are currently using two opposing (dichotomous) ivory stockpile management strategies – ivory stockpile destruction and ivory stockpile sale. This dichotomy threatens the necessary collective action to most effectively combat the illegal ivory trade. This is further complicated by the international community contradictorily calling for use of both ivory stockpile management strategies and by the current research inconclusively determining which strategy is more effective. Therefore, my master thesis seeks to explore this dichotomy and, through inductive analysis of archival data, answer my research question: which elephant ivory stockpile management strategy used by African elephant range states correlates better with more effective combatting of the illegal ivory trade, operationalized as decreased behavioral intention to poach as well as decreased poaching behavior?