Animal lovers and activists are up in arms over President Trump going back on his word to keep an Obama-era ban on importing elephant hunting trophies into the United States, and they are taking to Twitter and the editorial pages of newspapers to express their outrage over the decision.
On Thursday of last week, the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is overseen by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (himself an avid hunter), quietly released a memorandum saying that, “effective immediately,” they will withdraw their 2017 Endangered Species Act findings, and allow elephant trophies from African nations such as Zambia and Zimbabwe to be imported into the U.S. on a “case by case” basis, according to an article Monday in The Hill.
Back in November, Trump had intervened himself when the Fish and Wildlife Service had tried to rescind the ban the first time, according to reporting from the Huffington Post. There had been an uproar from environmentalists when the reversal of the ban had been first announced, and Trump tweeted at the time that the trophy hunting of elephants was a “horror show” that in no way “helps conservation of elephants or any other animal.”
This time, Trump has yet to comment on the reversal, which was said to have been made because a federal appeals court ruled that the Obama administration failed to follow proper procedures when it instituted the ban in the first place.
Naturally, environmentalists and animal activists have been more than willing to offer their criticisms of the president and this new change in policy. An article in the Chicago Tribune quotes the legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity, Tanya Sanerib, offering her thoughts on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement.
“The Trump administration is trying to keep these crucial trophy import decisions behind closed doors, and that’s totally unacceptable. Elephants aren’t meant to be trophies, they’re meant to roam free.”
Sanerib isn’t the only person angry and critical of the decision either. Twitter critics have wasted no time in pointing out how disastrous this could be for the dwindling population of elephants, who are classified as threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act.
Elephants can display grief, altruism, compassion, self-awareness.
They're the 7th smartest animal on the planet.
They'll most likely go extinct in less than 20 years.
— Molly ???? (@Molly3186) March 7, 2018
— PETA (@peta) March 6, 2018
@realaxelfoley trump “horror show” quote referred to THE BAN, not to trophy hunting. Seems like most people misinterpreted it and gave trump credit he did not deserve.
— FBR Percolato (@Percolato) March 7, 2018
More than one critic has pointed out that both of President Trump’s adult sons are big game hunters, having been pictured with trophies from elephants they allegedly killed in the past. Several critics also placed blame for the reversal at the feet of the NRA, who, along with Safari Club International, have been employing legal action to reverse the ban since it was first instituted back in 2104.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a combination of ivory poaching, sport hunting, and loss of wild habitat has led the elephant population to decline from more than five million in the early 1900s to less than 400,000 now, with elephants still actively in decline. It has been speculated that, if the current rate of decline continues, elephants could be declared officially extinct in the next 10 to 20 years.