US Lifts Ban on Import of African Elephant Hunting Trophies
Earlier this week, the Trump administration lifted a ban on importing hunting trophies from African elephants into the United States, claiming that this policy change would benefit elephants — but conservation officials are skeptical.
Representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced yesterday (Nov. 16) that the department would begin issuing permits allowing the import of sport-hunted trophies collected from elephants killed in Zimbabwe from Jan. 21, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2018. However, a ban remains on importing elephant trophies from Tanzania, according to the statement.
According to the FWS, hunting trophies are defined as raw or preserved animal parts collected by a recreational hunter “for personal use.” This may include “bones, claws, hair, head, hide, hooves, horns, meat, skull, teeth, tusks or any taxidermied part, including, but not limited to, a rug or taxidermied head, shoulder or full mount.”
The African elephant’s (Loxodonta africana) conservation status is listed as “vulnerable” by (IUCN), which is applied when a species’ numbers have declined by more than 30 percent over the past decade or when their habitat is fragmented, deteriorating or greatly reduced. It warns that the species is facing a high level of vulnerability in the wild.
However, many conservation organizations are skeptical of the benefits of legal and trophy collection for preserving and protecting elephants. In addition, there is the additional concern that lifting the trophy ban will send a troubling message to poachers about the United States’ commitment to ending trade in animal products from threatened and endangered species
This is the wrong move at the wrong time for protecting Africa’s wildlife, according to conservationists.