Update: In a rare move, President Trump tweeted Friday night that the plan to allow the import of elephants hunted in Africa would be halted, saying, “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts.”
Hunters may soon be allowed to bring trophies of African elephants back to the United States, and the news is sparking outrage. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News that President Trump plans to reverse a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014.
Chelsea Clinton tweeted, “Infuriating. Will increase poaching, make communities more vulnerable & hurt conservation efforts.”
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson, lifting the restrictions will allow U.S. sport hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The spokesperson defended the move by saying that it will put “much-needed revenue back into conservation.”
Despite the fact that elephants are an endangered species, hunting can be permitted if evidence shows that hunting benefits the conservation of the animals.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, “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.”
The Great Elephant Census reports that African elephants are vanishing at an alarming rate and the rate is continuing to gain speed. The census estimates that the elephant population in Africa is now dropping by 8 percent a year, primarily due to poaching.
Between 2007 and 2014, elephant populations declined by 30 percent across 18 African countries. In Zimbabwe, the population dropped by 6 percent overall, yet one region in particular lost 74 percent of its elephants.
Ellen DeGeneres said, “I love elephants. And if you take the time to learn about elephants, you would love them too.”
She also remarked, “Elephants show compassion, sympathy, social intelligence, self-awareness. They’re excellent at learning abilities — all the things I have yet to see in this president.”
Degeneres posted an illustration of an elephant on her Twitter and Instagram pages. For every retweet and like received by the posts, Degeneres will make a donation to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a foundation that rescues orphaned elephants in Kenya.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer