Trump backs down on elephant hunt trophies
US President Donald Trump tweeted this week that he was putting a decision to allow imports of elephant trophies on hold after a torrent of criticism from conservation advocates and across social media.
Trump’s reversal came hours after his administration released a rule on Friday to allow hunters who kill elephants in Zimbabwe to bring their trophies back to the US, which had been banned by the Obama administration.
Early word of the planned change had drawn protests from conservationists, who said it could deplete already at-risk elephant populations. Opponents posted photos of Trump’s sons Donald jnr and Eric, avid hunters, posing with dead wild animals.
Africa’s elephant population plunged by about a fifth between 2006 and 2015 because of increased poaching for ivory, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said last year.
Wildlife activists argue that corruption is endemic in Zimbabwe, and that money generated by big-game hunting and meant for conservation has been diverted to the pockets of crooks and poachers.
Supporters say money from wellregulated hunts has been used for wildlife conservation in African countries battling to diminish chronic poverty.
The Republican chairman of the US House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee, Ed Royce, slammed the administration’s decision to allow the imports, saying economic and political turmoil in Zimbabwe gave him “zero confidence” in the authorities there.
“Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organisations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate,” said Royce. “Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the world’s most majestic animals for the future — it’s about our national security.”