Elephant hunters are giving a free pass to import trophies of elephants they hunted and killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia. This reverses a ban set in place by the Obama administration in 2014. Even though elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, the reversal allows the government to award permits to those importing these trophies if there is evidence that the hunting actually benefited conservation of the species?
Hypocritical Circular Logic . . .
If you have to kill the elephant before you import their tusk trophies into the United States, how are you conserving the species?
This hypocrisy was pitched as 'justifiable' by a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson as such: “"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.”
Elephant tusk poaching has caused Savanna elephant populations to decline 30 percent in 18 countries in Africa from 2007 to 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census published last year. As a result, their tallies are slightly over a shameful 350,000.
The elephant population decreased 6 percent overall in Zimbabwe but fell by 74 percent within one specific region. Elephants saw substantial declines along the Zambezi River, in Zambia while other areas of that country were stable, according to the census.
Not announced widely in the United States publicly [until just after I posted this blog], word was released at a wildlife forum in South Africa the week of November 15, according to the Safari Club International. In conjunction, the SCI had also filed a lawsuit to block the ban back in 2014.
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 of the United States points out that poaching has been a problem in Zimbabwe over the years and that the hunting industry there faces corruption issues.
When tons of ivory estimated at $85 million dollars was purposely destroyed in Central Park on August 3rd — the message to the world was clear. Elephants were off-limits and the illegal ivory trade should now be an ongoing target. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] partnered with some of the world’s most prominent wildlife conservation groups to go after retail outlets selling ivory products in New York City.
Unfortunately, lifting the Obama ban pushed back significantly on the efforts achieved by the Ivory Crush initiative.
Back to the future . . .
Permission applies to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, and elephants hunted in Zambia during 2016, 2017 and 2018 for applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements, according to Fish and Wildlife spokesperson.
Real Reason for the Reversal . . .
The real reason for this reversal lies with the Trump administration and its Department of Interior head. But culpability also points to Trump's two sons.
The Interior Department is led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, an avid hunter who is a proponent of unregulated hunting and fishing. Earlier this month, Zinke announced the creation of a so-called International Wildlife Conservation Council to advise him on “the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs.”
President Donald Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are also avid big game hunters. In a photo that surfaced in 2012, Trump Jr. can be seen holding the tail of an elephant he shot and killed in Africa.
This is just yet another case of the president and his administration reversing another one of Obama’s initiatives. It’s sad that politics have to be the root cause for actions that affect the livelihood of one of the world's most endeared wildlife species.
Your comments, readers?
Primary Source: Trump Lifting Ban on Elephant Trophies