Even as African governments struggle to preserve the few remaining African elephants, the U.S. government has reversed the ban on importation of African elephant hunting trophies.
In a written statement issued on Thursday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will soon lift the ban on importation of body parts from African elephants killed for sport. The Service argued that allowing wealthy big-game hunters to kill the African Jumbos will help in wildlife conservation.
According to the Service, the move is aimed at enabling African nations to generate the “much-needed revenue back into conservation” by including U.S. sport hunting as part of their management plans for the elephants. The reversal is targeting wildlife imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“This is a significant step forward in having hunting receive the recognition it deserves as a toll of sound wildlife management, which had been all but buried in the previous administrations,” the Service was quoted by ABC.
Hunting the Vulnerable
Many members of the Safari Club International, a global network of hunters, have welcomed the waiver, saying legal sport hunting will provide incentives to locals to conserve rare wildlife species.
Without the ban, it means that Americans will now be able to hunt and kill the already endangered African elephants and import their trophies into the U.S.
Pretty jazzed about having to pay fewer taxes on my private jet, my private jet that I can now use to import my hunting trophies.
— Chris Mueller (@ChrisMuellerPGH) November 17, 2017
Critics have condemned the Service for lifting the ban, saying it will encourage poaching.
Donald Trump reverses ban on trade in hunting trophies, meaning it’s now easier for a dead elephant to enter the US than a Muslim.
— HaveIGotNewsForYou (@haveigotnews) November 16, 2017
Some are even suggesting that the U.S. President Donald Trump is supporting the reversal because his own sons are avid trophy hunters.
But according to the White House Spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the decision is yet to be finalized.
“There hasn’t been an announcement that’s been finalized on this front … until that’s done I wouldn’t consider anything final,” she said.
The ban had been imposed by the former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014 in an attempt to protect the endangered wildlife from further assault.
Studies have shown that the population of African elephants reduced by at least 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, and is further declining by about 8 percent every year. Researchers say much of this decline is as a result of poaching and trophy hunting.
The Wildlife Direct estimates that only less than 400,000 elephants are left in the world, with at least one being lost every 15 minutes to poachers.