Published: Sat, November 18, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump says he has put big-game trophy decision on hold

Trump says he has put big-game trophy decision on hold

It was reported on Thursday that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would allow the import of big game trophies, including body parts of African elephants, from countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia. "We need as many obstacles as possible to keep people from murdering our wildlife". A similar ban had also been lifted for hunted elephants in Zambia. The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.

Safari Club International (SCI) and by the National Rifle Association, the two groups that had filed suit to challenge the ban.

It is unclear how long the reviewal process will be before an announcement is made again as to where the United States stands on big game trophy importation.

The global affairs section of the official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service webpage shows the agency has already begun accepting permits for imports of trophies from the hunting of lions in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The agency said the formal announcement of the policy will be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

Ellen DeGeneres has launched a fundraising campaign for elephant conservation after President Trump overturned a ban on importing animal heads from Africa. But U.S. hunting groups and the National Rifle Association praised the recent decision on lion trophies, which they said the Trump administration issued on October 20.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued a statement Friday night about putting the decision on hold: "President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical". A 2017 report by Economists at Large, an economic analysis firm based in Australia, found that in eight African countries, trophy hunting amounted to less than 1 percent of total tourism revenue and 0.03 percent of the countries' total gross national product. As a result, the number of African elephants has shrunk from about 5 million a century ago to about 400,000 remaining.

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It's theoretically possible, of course, that population declines would be even worse without the legally sanctioned killings of hundreds of elephants a year.

Early word of the planned change had drawn protests from conservationists, who said it could deplete already at-risk elephant populations.

Royce questioned the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but US national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe, where the longtime president was placed under house arrest this week by the military. The U.S. embassy there has advised Americans there to "limit unnecessary movements".

"(It's) a great travesty for elephants", Tanya Sanerib Sr., with the Attorney Center for Biological Diversity, said.

The previous administration also found that Zimbabwe's "management plan was outdated and contained some laudable goals but did not include an indication on how it would implement such goals and it also failed to mention how Zimbabwe would enforce the country's laws regarding the protections", she added.

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