ABC News reported that the Trump administration is reversing an Obama-era ban on the import of elephant trophies from Africa. The grotesque change will be retroactive to the beginning of 2016.
Elephants are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and as such, trophies have not been permitted into the United States. Trump officials seem to have latched on to possible marginal benefits that regulated sport hunting may have on the conservation of elephants in two African countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Meanwhile, the species remains threatened throughout most of its range.
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said in a statement.
The Humane Society quickly came out to denounce the policy move:
Elephants are on the list of threatened species and the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them. ? https://t.co/AT3gRaYHo2 #WildlifeWednesday pic.twitter.com/DofKn3Abyo
— Humane Society (@HumaneSociety) November 15, 2017
Actor Mark Hamill expressed his outrage:
tRUMP LIFTS OBAMA BAN "It's a venal & nefarious PAY-TO-SLAY arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry."-Humane Society
It's a sickening & demoralizing decision to allow rich people to slaughter endangered species.-mh #OUTRAGED pic.twitter.com/UFdSEjeB3W
— @HamillHimself (@HamillHimself) November 16, 2017
The previous president of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada thoroughly called the move “disgusting and shameful.”
— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) November 16, 2017
Chelsea Clinton, daughter of the former Secretary of State and popular vote winner in the 2016 election, has been an avid conservationist, focusing in particular on elephants. The news came as “infuriating” to Chelsea.
Infuriating. Will increase poaching, make communities more vulnerable & hurt conservation efforts: https://t.co/w3BT8tZzgw
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) November 16, 2017
Clinton retweeted a phone number for the US Fish & Wildlife external affairs and public opinion line. She reported that the “mailbox is full” soon after.
— Dr. Naylor (@DrANaylor) November 16, 2017
Trump’s two sons have shown an active participation in the hunting of endangered animals, so the move appears to show more favoritism to benefit the Trump family personally. GOP Tax reform, as well as the fact that Republicans have so far turned a blind eye to Trump’s ongoing violations of the Emoluments Clause, are other examples.
The new permits to bring elephant body parts back to America will apply retroactively to animals killed starting on January 21st, 2016 for Zimbabwe and for the full year of 2016 on for Zambia, according to a Fish and Wildlife spokesperson. If Donald Trump Jr. killed elephants during that time, it appears he would be allowed to bring home his sickening “trophies.”
Elephant hunting is legal on private game ranches in Zambia, and the fees paid by hunters are used to fund conservation efforts. However, the species is still under constant threat from poaching, conflict with humans, and habitat destruction and is on the decline in most areas of Africa and Asia.
It’s just one more Obama-era policy that Trump has chosen to reverse for no good reason, other than to serve the interests of his own family and extremely wealthy trophy hunters who choose to shoot endangered animals on private game ranches where they have no chance of escape, calling it “sport” when it should be called “sick.” They could simply donate the money, or leave the trophy to the native people.
The elephant is the mascot of the Republican party, and Trump is now literally helping to endanger it, and most likely, the party itself.
Watch Trump defend his son’s “sport” below, though he says he personally doesn’t enjoy hunting.
For more commentary, watch this scathing critique by The Ring of Fire:
Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube