Conservation Groups Slam Trump's 'Reprehensible' Reversal on Elephant Trophies Ban

Randolph Lopez
November 17, 2017

In 2015, the FSW had suspended the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies, citing a lack of evidence that the practice helped conservation efforts.

According to the agency and groups like Safari Club International, a hunters' lobbying group which filed a lawsuit in 2014 to block an Obama-era ban on elephant trophies, hunting regulated by permits provides incentives to local communities to conserve the species and puts revenue back into conservation efforts.

Fast forward to Trump's regime: animals killed between January 21, 2016 and the end of 2018 will be allowed to be imported in the country.

Massive ivory tusks from legally hunted African elephants can once again be brought into the United States.

A group of elephants in Zambia.

The White House on Thursday said it had not yet finalized a decision to allow trophy hunters who kill elephants in two African countries to bring the endangered animals home as trophies, a move that had outraged USA conservation groups.

Coincidentally, Zimbabwe happens to be the country where Donald Trump Jr. took that infamous photo of him holding up a dismembered elephant's tail.

"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.

The Great Elephant Census published previous year found that from 2007 to 2014, savanna elephant populations decreased by 30 percent across 18 countries in Africa.

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It's unclear how the current political situation in Zimbabwe could affect this decision, but a blog post from the president of the Humane Society points out that poaching has been a problem in Zimbabwe over the years and that the hunting industry there faces corruption issues.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who installed the Big Buck Hunter arcade game in the department's employee cafeteria, is in favor of hunting.

"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.

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

Thursday's move reverses a 2014 ban imposed by former US President Barack Obama's administration which blocked the importation of elephant tusks and hides from animals killed for sport.

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

Zimbabwe is now in turmoil, with President Robert Mugabe under house arrest as a military coup unfolds. But conservationists, such as The Elephant Project, view this as a "pay to slay" tactic that will encourage more poaching of an intelligent, vulnerable species.

"The conservation and long-term health of big game crosses global boundaries", Zinke said in a statement announcing the group's creation.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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