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A statement on the lifting of the ban on elephant trophy imports to the US

November 16, 2017- In response to the recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift the ban on imports of elephant trophies (tusks, heads, skin, feet, tails and other parts) from Zimbabwe and Zambia, FOUR PAWS disapproves of this action and strongly urges the United States to continue this ban to protect African elephants.


Every year, hunters from Europe and the U.S. travel to Africa to participate in “trophy hunting”, from which hunters bring home dead animals as trophies to display on their walls as souvenirs. Most of “the Big 5” – elephants, lions, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard - can be hunted somewhere in Africa, for the right price. This is unacceptable.


In the case of elephants, African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and in Zimbabwe have declined 6 percent over recent years according to the Great Elephant Census project. In Zambia, elephant numbers have declined from 200,000 in 1972 to a little more than 21,000 last year. Instead of positively enhancing the survival of the species, the continued hunting and poaching of elephants in these countries has been devastating to those populations and the U.S. should not be a contributing factor to the loss of this amazing species.


For years, FOUR PAWS has been fighting a particularly gruesome form of trophy hunting called canned hunting, where an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 lions are born and raised on over 200 breeding farms across South Africa. They are simply alive to eventually be set loose in a small pen to be shot by a paying hunter. Ironically, supporters of the canned hunting industry, along with most trophy hunters, proclaim that their actives support conservation. However, there is no legitimate evidence that any trophy hunting dollars trickle down past corrupt governments to viable conservation efforts on the ground.


Trophy hunting is an unacceptable use of natural resources and is highly offensive to the global human populations. In fact, 86% of Americans oppose hunting big game and 56% oppose hunting animals for sport altogether.  After the media backlash towards the American that shot Cecil the lion, it is clear that most Americans do not support trophy sport hunting. FOUR PAWS is committed to standing up for all animal populations where humans have a deleterious effect on their lives and quality of that life.