Trump to lift ban on import of elephant trophies from Africa

Frederick Owens
November 17, 2017

The move would reverse a policy implemented by the Republican president's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed at a meeting in Tanzania organized by a pro-trophy hunting group that it would allow the import of trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia through 2018.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it will allow trophy hunters to bring back legally hunted wildlife to the country, removing restrictions on permits that were put in place to discourage the hunting and poaching of animals that are on the threatened species list.

"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", it said.

"These positive findings for Zimbabwe and Zambia demonstrate that the Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations", said SCI President Paul Babaz. The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once called elephants her "great passion" in a 2016 Politico profile and, together with her mother, unveiled a $80 million partnership through the Clinton Global Initiative in 2013 to help end the ivory poaching crisis.

This change only applies to elephants in those two countries but questions about using game hunting to generate money for conservation efforts also came up during the controversy after Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe in 2015.

That's not only because hunting won't be allowed but that there won't be big game.

"Zimbabwe's elephant population has declined 6% since 2001 and evidence show that poaching has increased in areas where trophy hunting is permitted", Pacelle said.

According to the United Nations, as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012. The U.S. Embassy there has advised Americans there to "limit unnecessary movements".

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People on social media are calling out the Trump administration for this ominous decision.

The group, which does not oppose all hunting, is considering bringing legal action to block the policy change, Pepper said. Opponents posted pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who are avid hunters, posing with the cut-off tail of a slain elephant and other dead wild animals on Twitter.

But animal rights groups were not happy with the legislative changes.

This week's rule change applies to elephants shot in Zimbabwe on or after January 21, 2016, and to those legally permitted to be hunted before the end of next year.

That means Americans will soon be able to hunt the endangered big game, an activity that garnered worldwide attention when a Minnesota dentist took Cecil, perhaps the world's most famous lion, near a wildlife park in Zimbabwe.

Since 2005, Zimbabwe's elephant population has dropped 10 percent, while Zambia saw an 11 percent decline over the last decade, according to National Geographic, citing the 2016 report.

A growing number of countries, including China, Singapore and the United States, have banned the trade in ivory.

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