Boston, MA - March 6, 2018. The following is a statement from Robert Ware, the U.S. Director of FOUR PAWS US in Boston, MA.
"We are extremely disappointed in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement stating the agency will now accept African elephants trophy import permits applications from Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia, among others, on a case-by-case basis.
We are appalled by the reversal of the ban on certain trophy imports to the United States and are saddened that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an institution charged with protecting species, is succumbing to the pressures to dismantle the Endangered Species Act. This is a surprising move considering the President himself labelled trophy hunting as a “horror show” and had previously promised to maintain an Obama-era ban on the practice. Although exactly how the permits are to be merited remains deliberately vague, we can only imagine that this is an official green light for U.S. hunters who travel to African nations to kill endangered animals for sport.
With African wildlife in peril, FOUR PAWS is very concerned by the approval of the FWS to allow elephant and lion trophy imports back into the U.S. from countries that were previously deemed unable to properly protect those species.
Despite the conflicting messages between President Trump and the Secretary of the Interior Zinke, President Trump's view of trophy hunting as a "horror show" seems to have changed under the influence of money and the powerful pro-hunting community, which has made a cozy place for itself with the USFWS. Pro-hunting groups such as Safari Club International (SCI) were the first to announce the lifting of the ban on elephant trophy imports. This is because the U.S. Department of the Interior had informed SCI of its decision first, not the American public.
The public should be outraged at this latest announcement considering 86% of Americans oppose hunting big game animals."
African elephants and lions are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and the continuing decline of their populations warrant the need for more protection, not less. According to the Great Elephant Census project, elephants in Zimbabwe have declined six percent over recent years. In Zambia, elephant numbers have declined from 200,000 in 1972 to a little more than 21,000 last year. African lions have decreased in population as well, with only 17,000-19,000 lions remaining in the wild.
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.
Even without corruption, studies have shown that the amount of money generated by trophy hunting pales in comparison to the amount of money brought into countries through tourism and wildlife watching.
FOUR PAWS will continue to fight for Africa’s elephants and lions and is committed to standing up for all animal populations where humans have a deleterious effect on their lives and quality of that life.