Trophy hunters like trophies. The well-mounted head of a kill, for many hunters, is a reminder of a hunt. As such, the objects are treasured. With that in mind, President Trump is over-turning Obama-era regulations that prevent trophy hunters from bringing their trophies back to the United States from abroad.
Those who stand in opposition to trophy hunting applauded the restrictions, especially those on elephant Ivory. They felt like the restriction on the importation of ivory would severely curtail poaching and the illegal trade of tusks.
The new regulation would allow hunters who killed elephants between January 21, 2016 and December 31, 2018 to apply for permits that would allow them to bring their trophies back to the US.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service made the news public at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum, a gathering co-hosted by Tanzania and Safari Club International Foundation.
At the core of this argument is the debate about hunting and conservation. Many feel like the money generated by legal hunting is crucial in supporting territory for the remaining species.
“These positive findings for Zimbabwe and Zambia demonstrate that the Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations,” said SCI President Paul Babaz.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior to remove barriers to sustainable use conservation for African wildlife.”
African elephants are listed as endangered, but the US government is open to hunts if there is a way to demonstrate that the hunt benefits the species as a whole.
So were the Obama regulations futile? Hardly. The regulations hit local governments hard as hunting declined. As a result, Zimbabwean and Zambian officials began to fight poaching more effectively and tracked hunts and quotas with greater care.
“By lifting the import ban on elephant trophies in Zimbabwe and Zambia the Trump Administration underscored, once again, the importance of sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting to the survival and enhancement of game species in this country and worldwide,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, wrote in a statement.
Reprehensible behaviour by the Trump Admin. 100 elephants a day are already killed. This will lead to more poaching. https://t.co/rld67eM018
— The Elephant Project (@theelephantproj) November 16, 2017
Opponents of this move are calling it a barbaric reversal meant to allow big-game trophy hunters like President Trump’s own son to carry on the barbaric tradition.