CLAIM

The United States will reverse restrictions on bringing back legally-hunted elephant trophies.

MIXTURE

RATING

MIXTURE

WHAT'S TRUE

The Trump administration reversed a ban on bringing elephant-hunting trophies back from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

WHAT'S FALSE

The administration has not reversed the ban; it has placed the reversal "on hold" following protests against the decision.

WHAT'S UNDETERMINED

The final outcome of the reversal.

ORIGIN

On 15 November 2017, several news organizations began reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump reversed Obama-era conservation efforts involving the import of ivory from Zimbabwe and Zambia, sparking outrage.

CNN reported:

US authorities will remove restrictions on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

That means Americans will soon be able to hunt the endangered big game, an activity that garnered worldwide attention when a Minnesota dentist took Cecil, perhaps the world’s most famous lion, near a wildlife park in Zimbabwe.

A US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said the move will allow the two African countries to include US sport hunting as part of their management plans for the elephants and allow them to put “much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

Critics, however, note the restrictions were created by the Obama administration in 2014 because the African elephant population had dropped. The animals are listed in the US Endangered Species Act, which requires the US government to protect endangered species in other countries.

However, a provision of the Endangered Species Act allows for restricted activities like the import of trophies if they are done “to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species.”

The 2014 restriction on importing elephant trophies included those that were hunted legally in those two countries.

Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group that filed a lawsuit challenging the restriction, first announced the regulation change on their web site.

In order to fulfill its obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United States restricts the number of legally-hunted elephant trophies to two per year. 

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service confirmed the change in regulation and told us:

Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the hunting and management programs for African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia will enhance the survival of the species in the wild. These enhancement findings are required prior to allowing import of these trophies under Endangered Species Act regulations. The finding applies to elephants hunted in Zimbabwe on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, and to elephants hunted in Zambia during calendar years 2016, 2017 and 2018, for applications that meet all other applicable permitting requirements.

On 17 November 2017, the Trump administration abruptly announced that it would be placing a “hold” on reversing the ban, pending further review. 

 

 

18 November 2017, 10:09 A.M.: Added information about the Trump administration placing a hold on the ban reversal; changed truth rating from "true" to "mixture".