Trump to lift ban on import of elephant trophies from Africa

Jerome Frank
November 17, 2017

The Trump administration will allow American hunters to import elephant trophies to the U.S., reversing an Obama-era 2014 ban, United States media report.

African elephants - the planet's largest land mammal - is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, which is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The policy change comes shortly after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke established an "International Wildlife Conservation Council" to promote public awareness of conservation and the "economic benefits that result from United States citizens traveling overseas to hunt".

President Trump's sons are known to visit Africa for big-game hunting trips. "Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not now supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species", they said at the time. "And their relationship to these animals - which are majestic and we see them as majestic - is quite different than you would think".

"These positive findings for Zimbabwe and Zambia demonstrate that the Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife", said the group's president, Paul Babaz.

"Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation", a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement.

"What kind of message does it send that poor Africans who are struggling to survive can not kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it's just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?" he wrote.

To be clear, this is not just about hunting, this is about the despicable practice of trophy hunting, where cowardly and morally deficient trophy hunters travel to Africa to engage in canned hunts and collect "trophies" such as elephants, warthogs, zebras, lions, and even giraffes, with entire tour companies dedicated to the so-called "sport."The decision to reverse the Obama era ban on the importation of "trophies" was celebrated by some hunting and gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, America's premier terrorist organization".

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The restriction, put in place by the Obama administration in 2014, is for hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

It's unclear when the act is going to be reversed, but a notice regarding this change will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday this week.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has been talking with wildlife officials in Zimbabwe since the ban was announced in 2014.

The elephant population declined 6 percent overall in Zimbabwe but dropped by 74 percent within one specific region.

Every day, around 100 African elephants are killed for their tusks, which end up being sold mainly on the Asian market.

Illicit demand for elephant ivory has led to devastating losses from illegal poaching as the natural habitat available for the animals to roam has also dwindled by more than half.

Conservation groups quickly responded to the ban reversal, criticizing not only the Trump administration's reasoning, but also their timing.

Zimbabwe is now in a leadership crisis, after the military seized power this week and placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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