In 2015, during the administration of Barack Obama, the US banned the import of elephant trophies. But there was a loophole: despite the elephant’s listing under the US Endangered Species Act, a provision permits the import of animal parts as long as there is sufficient evidence that fees generated by the the hunts will actually benefit the conservation of the species. Apparently the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been persuaded by Zambia and Zimbabwe that revenues will aid the conservation of elephants and so imports could start from today. Given the decline in elephant numbers and endemic corruption, it is hard to find any positives in this “victory” for trophy hunters.
Elephant trophy imports – us lifts ban
BY BORN FREE | 16 NOVEMBER 2017
In a move which could prove disastrous for elephants, the US Fish and Wildlife service has reversed a ban, introduced by the Obama administration in 2015, on the import of trophies from elephants killed by American trophy hunters in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Born Free’s Associate Director Mark Jones said: “Elephants are dying in their tens of thousands each year at the hands of ivory poachers, and are in serious decline across the African continent. They can’t withstand the additional threat posed by trophy hunting. The lifting of the ban, which will enable scores of American hunters to travel to Zambia and Zimbabwe to shoot elephants, will put populations in those countries under additional pressure, as well as causing immeasurable suffering and disruption to targeted individuals and their family groups. It’s nothing short of a disgrace.”
In its African Elephant Status Report from 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) noted that poaching has severely affected elephant populations in both Zimbabwe and to a lesser extent Zambia, among many other African countries. Elephants are also wide-ranging animals, so the killing of elephants in one country can affect their status in neighbouring countries.
In the decade to 2014, more than 12,500 elephant trophy items were imported into the United States, almost 5,000 of which originated from Zimbabwe alone.
The US import ban has given elephant populations in Zambia and Zimbabwe a much needed respite from trophy hunting, but resumption of US imports will doubtless rapidly reversing any gains made. There are also fears that trophy hunting will be used as a front for the illegal ivory trade, at a time when the international community has finally been coming together to bring an end to the poaching of elephants for their tusks.
Jones continued: “Trophy hunters claim their heinous activities somehow help wildlife conservation. The terrible truth is that they do nothing of the sort. Most of the money paid by hunters finds its way into the pockets of international hunting outfitters and corrupt officials, and killing individual elephants has a devastating impact on families and social groups. Unlike Americans, Europeans and some others, Africans don’t traditionally kill animals for fun. Trophy hunting is a throwback to a colonial era when rich Westerners viewed Africa’s wildlife as little more than gun fodder. It should be consigned to the shameful part of our history where it belongs.”