Donald Trump has agreed to allow legally hunted elephant trophies to be imported to the United States from two African countries.
President Trump’s administration has reversed a Barack Obama’s ban on the remains of elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia entering the US, arguing it can actually boost conservation efforts.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) determined that “the hunting and management programs for African elephants will enhance the survival of the species in the wild”.
Elephants are on the serious decline and experts have predicted that if they plummet at the rate they are currently going, they could become extinct in 10-20 years.
One elephant is killed every 15 minutes in the wild. Once there were over 1 million elephants in the wild. In the early 1970s, demand for ivory rocketed with 80% of traded raw ivory coming from poached elephants. A ban was put in place in 1989 by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and all international trade was prohibited in an attempt to combat this massive illegal trade.
Major ivory markets were eliminated and some countries in Africa experienced a steep decline in illegal killing allowing some elephant populations to recover. Following a ‘one-off sale’ in 2008, the illegal trade rocketed with 2011 seeing the largest seizures of ivory since records began. Elephant populations declined rapidly as poaching escalated across much of Africa, fuelling the black market.
Poachers killed an average of 33,630 elephants every year from 2010 to 2012, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths across the continent, the study found. Illegal killings across Africa decreased somewhat in 2010, but they were still higher than pre-2009 levels, researchers reported. As more elephants are poached, the number of governmental seizures of illegal ivory increase, and the black market price of ivory goes up.
Poaching rates for ivory are unsustainable and exceed the natural growth rate of wild elephants. This means that elephant populations are currently in decline by nearly 60 to 70 percent every 10 years, making it likely for the species to become extinct in the near future if poaching and the illegal ivory trade are not stopped.
The ban on imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe was initially imposed by the Obama administration in 2014 as part of a national strategy for combating wildlife trafficking.
“Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species,” they said at the time.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Service and the US Department of the Interior to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife.”..they said
Many animal activists and conservationists think that it is more than a coincidence that President Trump pushed this amendment though, considering that his son, Donald Trump Jnr, happens to be a keen hunter; having been pictured with this tail of an elephant that he cut off after a hunt in Africa.
Source: The Telegraph & Wild at Heart Foundation