US President Donald Trump reverses elephant hunting trophy decision after outcry

November 18, 2017 12:03 am
This AFP file photo taken on November 17, 2012 shows African elephants in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
President has upheld a ban on importing trophies of elephants hunted and killed in two African countries, reversing his own administration’s decision from just a day earlier after a public outcry.  
US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Friday that he and Trump came to the decision after they “talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical.”
“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.
Just hours before, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had defended the move to end the ban on importing elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, which was initiated in 2014 under then President Barack Obama.
The postponement came just one day after the US Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that it would reverse the Obama administration ban.
The service said Thursday that it would begin issuing permits to import “sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe” between January 21, 2016 and December 31, 2018.
The move to lift the ban was met with a stream of criticism from animal rights groups and activists.
“No despot in the world can take responsibility for killing off an age-old species that is part of the world heritage of humanity,” French animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot said in a letter to Trump.
The move “confirms the sick and deadly power you assert over the entire planet and animal kingdom,” the 83-year-old former actress added.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have had difficulty in recent years maintaining their elephant population.
The African elephant population shrunk nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2014, according to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Africa’s elephant population has declined in part because of continued illegal killing, said a report this year by CITES.
Trump has reversed his stance on an array of foreign and domestic issues that he adopted during last year’s presidential election campaign.
Since entering the White House 10 months ago, Trump has shifted policy on Russia, China, Syria and NATO, and has failed to keep many of his campaign pledges.
All presidents change positions once they get into office and receive more information, but Trump’s pace “is still pretty remarkable,” says political scientist Nicole Renee Hemmer, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
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