Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

President Trump's administration once again lifts elephant trophy ban

President Trump's administration once again lifts elephant trophy ban

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the ban against permits for elephant trophies that was instituted by the Obama administration in 2014.

The memo is dated March 1, stating that the FWS will consider a species' "status and management program" and "ensure that the program is promoting the conservation of the species" when determining whether or not to issue a trophy permit. The agency's original decision was based on the theory that money paid by big game hunters assists conservation efforts.

The Trump administration recently reversed a controversial big-game hunting policy, allowing Americans to once again import the body parts of African elephants on a "case-by-case" basis.

The Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association (NRA), which filed the suit in the District Court, challenged the 2014 and 2015 findings by the Service, which supported a "positive enhancement determination with respect to elephant trophies hunted in Zimbabwe during the 2014 hunting season".

At the time, Mr. Trump also publicly expressed his opposition to the idea of importing big-game trophies, tweeting, "Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal".

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Neither the Interior Department nor Fish and Wildlife initially issued news releases announcing the change, according to news reports.

"The Trump administration is trying to keep these crucial trophy import decisions behind closed doors, and that's totally unacceptable", Tanya Sanerib of the Center for Biological Diversity told the AP.

But it has now emerged that earlier this month, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a memorandum that the importation of elephant trophies will now be approved on a "case-by-case basis". If this refers to Trump's November musings about a "horror show", presumably the FWS might not allow trophies from elephants into the US - but this couldn't be confirmed.

Despite his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr being keen hunters, Mr Trump told TMZ in 2012 that he was "not a believer in hunting". A photograph of Trump Jr holding a knife and a dead elephant tail after a hunt in Zimbabwe in 2011 has drawn wide attention in the past.

It is not the first time the US Fish and Wildlife Service has removed protection for animals: in June it lifted protections against hunting grizzly bears near Yellowstone National Park.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would not comment further on how the permits will be considered. Previously, only wild lions killed in South Africa were eligible.

The bureau insisted it has kept in place its obligations under the Endangered Species Act, which designated the African elephant as endangered in 1979.

While some animal populations naturally die out, as many have throughout the history of Earth, the driving factor behind the rapid death of both Asian and African elephants over the past century-plus is poaching.

And the numbers of these animals continue to decline.

According to nonprofit wildlife conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife, planet Earth was home to roughly several million African elephants and approximately 100,000 Asian elephants, the only two species of elephants in the world. For forest elephants, the population declined by an estimated 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011.

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