In a Bid to Do Every Awful Thing Imaginable, the Trump Administration Is Now Coming for the Elephants
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We kind of knew this was coming, didn’t we, what with Don Jr.’s
taste for shooting beautiful animals and Ryan Zinke’s “Big Buck
moment—still, somehow, the news that the Trump
lifted the Obama administration’s ban on exporting trophies
from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe and Zambia is a bit of a shock.
Are they trying to do literally every bad thing? Every single
From the Washington Post:
African elephants are
listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act,
but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that
large sums paid for permits to hunt the animals could
actually help them “by putting much-needed revenue back into
conservation,” according to an agency statement.
Under the Obama administration, elephant-hunting trophies
were allowed in countries such as South Africa but not in
Zimbabwe because Fish and Wildlife decided in 2015 that the
nation had failed to prove that its management of elephants
enhanced the population.
Zimbabwe could not confirm its elephant population in a
way that was acceptable to U.S. officials, and did not
demonstrate an ability to implement laws to protect it.
In 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service suspended imports of
elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe because of
population declines” that have, in fact,
continued apace, mostly due to illegal poaching. At that
time, the agency said that in these countries the “additional
killing of elephants…even if legal, is not sustainable.”
Considering there is currently an
apparent coup underway in Zimbabwe, a country that has been
catastrophic levels of corruption by a guy who actually
eats elephants on his birthday, it seems unlikely that
their elephant management problems have been cleared up.
The Post also reports that Safari Club International
announced the rule change a day ahead of the the US Fish
and Wildlife Service, and that a Fish and Wildlife official
made the announcement at an SCI event in Tanzania. Safari Club
International is an international trophy hunting organization
that lobbies to get various species “delisted” as endangered so
that its members can hunt them. SCI members,
according to a 2015 Humane Society report, have killed over
2,000 lions, 1,800 leopards, nearly 800 elephants and 93 black
rhinos over the past 60 years.
Although the US Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted the
trophy hunting community refrain that killing these animals
actually helps conserve the species, there is
that the significant sums of money brought in by trophy
hunters often does not actually support conservation efforts in
a meaningful way. And beyond that, killing elephants is an
especially evil activity, considering their almost
frightening intelligence and deeply embedded social ties.
“How someone could want to shoot such an intelligent,
empathetic animal as an elephant is beyond me,” Frank Pope, CEO
of Save the Elephants,
told the Guardian. “But what is most concerning
for elephants is that renewed imports of trophy ivory into the
US might undermine the all-important ivory trade bans put in
place by America and China.”
“China continues to show strong leadership and will close all
ivory trade within her borders by the end of the year. Up to
now American actions on elephants and ivory have been
admirable. The fire of the ivory trade seems to be dying. The
last thing we need is a sudden blast of oxygen from a misguided