AWI Urges Trump, Zinke to Permanently Restore Ban on African Elephant Trophy Imports

Photo from Flickr by Aftab Uzzaman

Washington, DC—In a letter issued today to President Donald Trump and Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) president Cathy Liss applauded the President’s November 17 decision to halt the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Citing the need for proper conservation management programs for the threatened African elephant, Liss also urged for the 2014 rule banning elephant trophies to be immediately, and permanently, implemented pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“Maintaining continued protections and conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species is of utmost importance,” stated Liss. “We call on President Trump and Secretary Zinke to permanently retain the 2014 ban on the importation of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.”

In 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a rule which aimed to forestall the further decline of the African elephant population, by banning imports of African elephant trophies into the United States. A 2016 decision by the US District Court of the District of Columbia also upheld the ban, finding that sport hunting of elephants in Zimbabwe would not enhance the survival of the species.

Today, the African elephant remains an imperiled species. Zimbabwe’s elephant population has been depleted by six percent since 2007; in the northwestern region of Sebungwe, a stronghold for elephant trophy hunting, the population has decreased by a massive 74 percent.  African elephants also face grave danger in Zambia; between 1972 and 2016 the species population plummeted from more than 200,000 to fewer than 22,000.

To read AWI’s letter to President Trump and Secretary Zinke, click here.

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