Opponents of our chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, should bear the cobra effect in mind.
—Mike Rowse, “Politicians in China, and elsewhere, should beware the cobra effect,” South China Morning Post, March 30, 2015
The cobra effect is a well known term in behavioral economics, referring to an anecdote from British colonial rule in India. The story says that a British governor, wanting to eliminate the cobra population in Dehli [sic], declared a bounty for each dead snake. To his horror, illegal cobra breeders began popping up all over the city — raising the snakes, then killing them and collecting the money. Realizing his mistake, the governor ended the bounty in order to stop the breeders, which caused them to release their now worthless animals into the city, exponentially increasing Delhi’s cobra problem.
—Ian Evans, “Missouri Struggles With Feral Hogs — And Hog Hunters,” Undark, July 1, 2016