Earlier this month, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced its decision to lift the ban on importing elephant hunting trophies. The news was met with so much resistance that President Trump put a hold on the lift. He tweeted, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts.” This comment makes reference to the information regarding elephant populations and management programs collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), established that threatened and endangered species can only be hunted if there is proof that such hunting will help in the overall survival of the species. Since African elephants are listed as threatened, hunters must be granted a special permit to legally hunt them. The permits are granted by the country in which the hunting will take place. However, the decision as to whether or not these hunters can bring their “trophies” back with them is determined by the country in which they will be imported.
In 2014, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suspended all imports of African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia due to insufficient information regarding elephant populations and sustainability there. They have continued to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and recently concluded that there was enough evidence that limited permitted hunting was helpful in the conservation efforts. As such, they lifted the suspension or ban on importing legally hunted elephant trophies.
Within the coming week, President Trump is expected to announce his decision as to whether he will allow the lift to go into effect, or whether he will reverse it. As with any controversial subject, there are those who are in favor of the ban, and those who are in favor of it being lifted.
This video from Newsy provides an overview of the situation:
Should Trump uphold the current ban on allowing legally obtained elephant trophies to be imported into the U.S. from Zimbabwe and Zambia? Does the ban actually help protect the African elephant population by keeping hunters from bringing their “trophies” back here? Or, would lifting it do a better job since big game hunting permits help fund local conservation programs?