WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump revoked on Friday his government’s decision to lift its ban on the import of elephant trophies hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia, pending a thorough review of the matter.
The lifting of this ban, imposed in 2014 under former President Barack Obama, was announced on Thursday by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which detailed that it would begin issuing permits for the “import of elephant hunting trophies” culled in Zimbabwe and Zambia between January 2016 and December 2018.
However, following criticism from conservationists and animal rights organizations such as the Humane Society, Trump said via his Twitter account on Friday that the ban will remain in effect as he reviews all conservation data.
Legal and well-regulated sport hunting “can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives for local communities to conserve the species and reinvest much-needed income back into conservation,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service said on Thursday.
“To support conservation, hunters should choose to hunt only in countries that have strong government, good management practices and healthy wildlife populations,” the US government agency added.
Although African elephants are listed as an endangered species in the US, the government may authorize the importation of hunting trophies if it decides that killing these animals is beneficial to conservation efforts.
In an article published on the Internet, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, called it “absurd” for the US to find Zimbabwe capable of properly managing the hunting and conservation of its elephants, citing the country’s political crisis.
According to Pacelle, Zimbabwe’s elephant population has declined by 6 percent since 2001 and evidence shows that poaching has increased where trophy hunting is permitted.
With regard to Zambia, Pacelle explained that, from a population of more than 200,000 elephants in 1972, it has diminished to only about 21,000 in 2016, with ivory trafficking the greatest threat to the survival of the species in that country.
In 2015, under then-President Obama, the Fish and Wildlife Service banned the sale of ivory from African elephants between US states and increased export restrictions.