The Washington Post reports: President Trump abruptly reversed his administration’s Thursday decision to allow elephants shot for sport in Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported back to the United States as trophies, saying in a tweet Friday night that he was putting the decision “on hold” until further review.
“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”
Trump’s sudden tweet halted a decision by his own administration, announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday, to end a 2014 government ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia, saying it would help the conservation of the species. Under U.S. law the remains of African elephants, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, can only be imported if federal officials have determined that hunting them benefits the species more broadly.
But the Fish and Wildlife decision almost immediately was met with a fierce backlash and outcry from animal rights activists and environmentalists — as well as prominent conservatives, and a key House committee chairman.
In a tweet, Fox News host Laura Ingraham expressed her dismay, writing, “I don’t understand how this move by @realDonaldTrump Admin will not INCREASE the gruesome poaching of elephants. Stay tuned.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) issued a statement Friday noting that in light of Zimbabwe’s current political turmoil – President Robert Mugabe is now under house arrest after a military coup – it made no sense to ease restrictions on trophy imports. [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: As of 2014 the African elephant population stood at an estimated 374,000, according to the Global Elephant Census, a massive and costly effort to measure the continent’s remaining savanna elephant population. That’s down from an estimated 10 million elephants at the turn of the 20th century, and from 600,000 of the animals as recently as 1989.
The more detailed population trend data from the census showed that populations had been on a rebound from 1995 to about 2007. But since then, elephant populations have been declining by a rate of about 8 percent annually, or 30,000 elephants each year. [Continue reading…]