Why should I be surprised that the Trump administration has broken its promise to ban the importation of wild elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia?
In yet another example of why anything Trump says should not be believed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March 1 issued a a formal memo saying it would consider issuing permits to import elephant trophies from African nations on a “case-by-case” basis, effective immediately.
The agency last November reversed an Obama-era ban on the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, contending that sport hunting in those countries would “enhance the survival of the species in the wild.” But, faced with mounting outrage from environmentalists, Trump blocked that decision, calling such trophy hunting a "horror show," a decision that surprised and pleased environmental organizations.
Trump's sons, Donald, Jr. and Eric, are avid big game trophy hunters. What influence did they have on this ruling?
In the photo at left, Donald Trump, Jr. is shown posing with the tail of an elephant he killed in Africa. He told a Forbes columnist in 2012 that outrage over the images of him and his brother was misplaced because elephants are overpopulated in the area and need to be hunted to prevent them from further destroying their habitat.
However, conservationists say elephants' numbers are in sharp decline because of human encroachment and poaching, and that trophy hunts fuel the demand for wild animal products.
They say it’s unclear if the new move will result in additional elephant trophy imports, but the guidelines give more leeway to hunters to apply for permits. The Huffington Post reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service already has updated its webpages on the import of sport hunted trophies for both elephants and lions.
The decision to reverse the ban was first revealed publicly by Safari Club International, a trophy hunting advocacy group with close ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The group, along with the National Rifle Association, sued to block the 2014 ban on elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. Late last year, a federal appeals court ruled that the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures when it instituted the ban, including a failure to to invite public comment, the court said.
The liberal group Change.org has launched a campaign opposing the action and is urging members to send Trump a message via Twitter asking that he overrule the Fish and Wildlife Service's decision. It also urged members to call or email Zinke asking him to uphold Trump's promise to protect elephants by maintaining the ban. To do this, call (202) 208-7351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org