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Published: Fri, November 17, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Trump Administration Reverses Ban on Elephant Trophy Imports

Trump Administration Reverses Ban on Elephant Trophy Imports

Donald Trump's administration plans to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe into the U.S. - a move campaigners fear could damage global momentum on ending the ivory trade.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the change, saying it will begin issuing permits for elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia - even though the creatures are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

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.

Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in United States law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.

Animal rights groups criticized Trump and his administration for removing the restrictions.

"What kind of message does it send to say to the world 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 continued.

Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group that has consistently opposed any restrictions on importing trophies from overseas, broke the news of the rule change a day ahead of Fish and Wildlife.

Both of Trump's sons have defended hunting.

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

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge in Critical Condition
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge in Critical Condition

He added, "What kind of message does it send to say to the world 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?"

"The conservation and long-term health of big game crosses global boundaries", Zinke said in a statement announcing the group's creation. A spokeswoman said an explanation will be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

The decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse the ban follows moves in favour of the US hunting sector that are worrying some observers.

The census also reported that there are around 82,000 elephants in Zimbabwe.

"The U.S. must do all we can to ensure the genuine protection of African elephants, a species listed under the Endangered Species Act".

According to the United Nations, as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012.

Since 2001, Zimbabwe's elephant population has reportedly declined, while elephant population in Zambia has also declined in some regions.

Zimbabwe is now in a leadership crisis, after the military seized power this week and placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest. The U.S. embassy there has advised Americans there to "limit unnecessary movements". "With tanks in the streets, whoever is actually running the Zimbabwe government just can't be trusted to protect elephants from slaughter by poachers".

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