The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it would allow hunters to bring elephant remains from Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States as trophies, reversing an Obama-era ban. African elephants are classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but a statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service said that reversing the ban on trophies was intended to help elephants “by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation," as hunters will pay a large amount of money for the permits.
Under Obama, hunters could import elephant trophies from other African countries, such as South Africa, but not in Zimbabwe because the Fish and Wildlife service determined that the country did not provide sufficient oversight and protection to its elephant population. In recent years, the African elephant population of Zimbabwe declined 6 percent, according to the Great Elephant Census project. A spokeswoman told The Washington Post that a further explanation for why the Trump administration reversed this ban will be published in the Federal Register on Friday.
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 US citizens traveling abroad to hunt.”
A blog post by Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society, criticized the decision, calling it “a venal and nefarious, pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry.”
“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them,” Pacelle wrote. “What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot 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?”
Coincidentally, Zimbabwe happens to be the country where Donald Trump Jr. took that infamous photo of him holding up a dismembered elephant's tail.
[Photo: Getty Images]