WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - The Trump Administration plans to remove an Obama-era ban on importing elephant head trophies.
That means big game hunters could soon bring their elephant head trophies into the U.S. if they were killed on legal hunts in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
For decades, African countries have struggled to save elephants. An estimated 30,000 are slaughtered by poachers every year for their ivory tusks.
In the 1970s, Africa had an estimated 1.3 million wild elephants. Now only a half a million remain.
But a statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says legal, well-regulated sport hunting of elephants can help save the animals by giving local communities a financial incentive to protect them.
Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States said that’s a phony argument.
“Africa generates billions of dollars in economic activity from tens of millions of people seeing these animals alive,” he added.
Pacalle said the Trump Administration is making a huge mistake.
“The United States is going to be contributing to the trophy hunting of endangered and threatened African elephants and African lions, species that are battered and beleaguered and rare, and the last thing they need is rich American elites chasing them around with bows and arrows and firearms to kill them in a head hunting exercise,” Pacalle said.
The Trump administration is reversing an Obama-era ban on importing elephant trophies killed in legal hunts in Zambia and Zimbabwe. What do you think? @wusa9— Bruce Leshan (@BruceLeshan) November 16, 2017
WUSA9 reporter Bruce Leshan posted a poll on Twitter. Ninety-five percent of the voters thought legal elephant trophy hunting was a terrible idea.
On his Facebook page, Gwen Owen Foote wrote, “This is horrific.” Landin Dixon said, "SMH, please stop it."
But many hunters, including Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump who posed years ago with a leopard they’d shot, see this very differently.
A hunting group called Safari Club International had sued the U.S. to reverse the ban on importing elephant trophies. It was the first to announce the change, and it says it's working to expand it to other parts of Africa.
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