Update: According to The Washington Post, “Following strong bipartisan criticism of the administration’s decision to allow imports of trophy carcasses, a practice was halted under the Obama administration, Trump had moved Friday to put the imports on hold. On Sunday, Trump said on Twitter that he would announce a final decision this week.”The Washington Post also reported that this new information “halted a decision by his own U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday to end a 2014 government ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Under U.S. law, the remains of African elephants, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, can be imported only if federal officials have determined that hunting them benefits the species more broadly.”
African elephant hunters may soon be able to bring their trophies home
The sport and practice of legal African big-game hunting is in the news again, but this time the focus isn’t on Cecil the Lion. Instead, it’s on elephant trophies.
According to a report by ABC News, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) confirmed that the Trump administration plans to permit the import of elephant trophies legally hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2016-2018 into the United States, reversing a ban issued by the Obama administration in 2014.
According to Safari Club International (SCI), the FWS announced that it had made “positive enhancement findings for elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016-2018” at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) co-hosted by Tanzania and SCI Foundation. According to SCI President Paul Babaz:
“These positive findings for Zimbabwe and Zambia demonstrate that the Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations. We appreciate the efforts of the Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife.”
While elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, a provision therein allows the federal government to provide permits to import such trophies if there is evidence that the hunting of that animal benefits conservation efforts for that species. According to ABC, the Fish and Wildlife Service official said Trump’s administration has new information from officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia to support reversing the ban.
Hunters who have harvested an elephant, or those who wish to hunt elephants, must obtain import permits from the FWS to bring their elephant trophies home. The permits will apply to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe between Jan. 21, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018, and elephants hunted in Zambia during 2016, 2017 and 2018. Applications must meet all other applicable requirements, according to ABC.
The federal government has not officially announced this policy change. According to ABC, a notice regarding this reversal on the ban will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday with specifics on the new information justifying the change.
Does hunting support wildlife conservation efforts? Absolutely.
Do the antis see that? Of course not.
Anti-hunters may never understand just how important hunting is to the conservation of species they think they’re protecting. Killing animals to help support those same animals can be a difficult concept to grasp. In truth, big-game hunting in countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe provides an influx of crucial funds to support wildlife conservation efforts and the country itself. The fees hunters pay to hunt exotic big game gives the local economy a much-needed boost. Even the meat is often donated to local people and tribes who rarely get a healthy dose of protein. The unnamed Fish and Wildlife official said this in a statement:
“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.”
Various conservation organizations are announcing their opposition to the policy change. According to The Scientific American, the National Resources Defense Council, which does not oppose all hunting, is just one group that is considering taking legal action to block the Trump administration from reversing the ban.
Many anti-hunters on social media are calling for this ban to remain in place and go as far as to claim that this form of legal trophy hunting is no different than the abhorrent act of poaching, which has been the primary reason for the population decline in African elephants by 30 percent from 2007 to 2014 according to a report released last year — not legal trophy hunting.
In fact, Zimbabwe officials have increased efforts to combat poaching, established a system to report financial benefit from American hunters and provided more information on how officials establish hunting quotas, according to the text of the federal register notice that will be posted soon, ABC reports.
Elephant hunting has been banned in Zambia many times over the years because of a declining population but was reestablished in 2015 after surveys found a larger elephant population in some areas. Zambia is home to some 22,000 elephants, according to the census.
According to ABD, tourists can hunt elephants on private game ranches or specified areas in Zambia, many of which are on the outskirts of national parks. Zambian officials carry out anti-poaching efforts and manage elephant hunting through permits and quotas, according to the Federal Register notice.
Related: Before You Go Hunting to Africa
Where do you stand on elephant hunting?
What do you think of this proposed policy change? Do you support hunters having the legal right to bring their elephant trophies home? Have you ever hunted elephants or other exotic big game? We want to know! Comment below or contact me at email@example.com.
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