Elephant Trophy Ban


Elana Wood, Staff Writer

On November 15th, members of President Donald Trump’s administration announced that the ban on importing game trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe to the United States would be lifted. People would be granted permission to import elephant trophies to the U.S., which had been illegal under President Barack Obama. This announcement at a Safari Club International event in Tanzania has been met with an outburst of criticism and backlash from around the world, specifically from conservationists. Trump confronted the backlash on twitter two days later, announcing that the ban would be kept in place, temporarily.

Elephants are listed as an endangered species; therefore, according to National Geographic, the only way that the ban on importing parts of them (usually tusks) to the U.S. would work would be that importing would have to in some way “contribute to their conservation in the wild”. Killing, dismembering, and importing their parts for the benefit their species is very contradictory. The thought process is that because people pay thousands of dollars for the permits required to shoot elephants that money could feed and provide resources for poor villages, which would otherwise shoot the elephants for food. This would work in theory, but doesn’t when practiced. Trophy hunting in Africa is a huge business, and a closer look shows that the industry hires few people and does not fairly distribute funds to needy villagers. Because of this, trophy hunting isn’t stopping illegal poaching, and elephant numbers are going down rapidly.

Because of decades of poaching, elephants are considered at risk of extinction, because of this they are banned from being traded commercially, however trophies are not considered to be commercial products.

Trump’s initial decision to remove the ban received praise from many hunting enthusiasts, but was overpowered by the amount of worldwide criticism that he also received. Temporarily re-implementing the ban seemed to be Trump’s only option, however; the word “temporarily” is concerning. After information was presented to Trump regarding his decision to lift the ban Trump tweeted that he would “put the trophy decision on hold until [he could] review all of the conservation facts.

The legalization of trophy importing is now temporarily on hold, and unfortunately there is no way of knowing what decision that Trump will make. The decision is apparently being carefully thought over by Trump and his administration, but people should wait before getting their hopes up. The same person who made the decision that could potentially obliterate elephants in Zimbabwe and Tanzania is also the one in charge of “reviewing the facts.”