Trump halts decision to allow elephant trophy imports after uproar

President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday he will be putting a decision to allow imports of elephant trophies on hold after a torrent of criticism via conservation advocates as well as across social media.

Trump’s reversal came hours after his administration released a rule on Friday to allow hunters who kill elephants in Zimbabwe to bring their trophies back to the United States, which had been banned by the Obama administration.

Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement which he had spoken with Trump as well as “both believe which conservation as well as healthy herds are critical.” He said the “issuing of permits will be being put on hold as the decision will be being reviewed.”

Early word of the planned change had drawn protests via conservationists, who said the item could deplete already at-risk elephant populations. the item also caused a social media firestorm, with opponents posting photos of President Donald Trump’s sons Donald Jr. as well as Eric, avid hunters, posing with dead wild animals.

Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said on Friday in a statement: “the item’s great which public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider This kind of despicable decision, however the item takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters via slaughtering elephants as well as lions. We need immediate federal action to reverse these policies.”

Amid the backlash to reports which the move could apply to two southern African countries — Zimbabwe as well as neighboring Zambia — White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the item was due to a review by career officials at the U.S. Fish as well as Wildlife Service which began back in 2014 under the previous administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.

“This kind of review established which both Zambia as well as Zimbabwe had met brand new standards, strict, international conservation standards, which allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries,” Sanders told reporters.

In an official notice published on Friday inside Federal Register, the U.S. Fish as well as Wildlife Service said the item had concluded which the killing of African elephants in Zimbabwe as trophies, between the dates of Jan. 21, 2016, as well as Dec. 31, 2018, “will enhance the survival of the African elephant.”

The agency had said earlier on Friday before Trump’s tweet which “legal managed hunting” can help provide incentives to conserve wildlife as well as habitat as well as provide revenue to help conservation.

The move was disclosed by Fish as well as Wildlife Service officials attending a meeting in Tanzania This kind of week which was organized by a pro-trophy hunting group.

The officials had said Zambia could also be covered by the change, however only Zimbabwe was mentioned in Friday’s notice. Zambia was mentioned in a news Discharge issued by the government.

The international affairs section of the official U.S. Fish as well as Wildlife Service webpage shows the agency has already begun accepting permits for imports of trophies via the hunting of lions in Zimbabwe as well as Zambia.

Wildlife advocates said which move contradicts the agency’s decision last year to extend Endangered Species Act protections to African lions. however U.S. hunting groups as well as the National Rifle Association praised the recent decision on lion trophies, which they said the Trump administration issued on Oct. 20.

Africa’s elephant population plunged by about a fifth between 2006 as well as 2015 because of increased poaching for ivory, a coveted commodity used in carving as well as ornamental accessories in China as well as some other parts of Asia, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said last year.

Wildlife activists argue which corruption will be endemic in impoverished Zimbabwe, as well as which money generated by big game hunting as well as meant for conservation has been diverted into the pockets of crooks as well as poachers.

Supporters say money made via well-regulated hunts has been used for costly wildlife conservation in cash-starved African countries battling to diminish chronic poverty.

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ed Royce, slammed the administration’s decision to allow the imports, saying economic as well as political turmoil in Zimbabwe gave him “zero confidence” the authorities there were properly managing conservation programs.

“Elephants as well as some other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organizations, as well as they are being killed at an alarming rate,” Royce said in a statement. “Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the earth’s most majestic animals for the future — the item’s about our national security.”

Zimbabwe was thrown into chaos This kind of week when the army took charge, appearing to signal the end of long-serving President Robert Mugabe’s reign, despite the 93-year-old’s insistence which he remains in charge.

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