Trump backpedals on elephant and lion trophy imports, says he'll review 'conservation facts'
U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he will put off a controversial decision to lift a ban on animal trophy imports until he reviews conservation-related factors.
Amid an uproar over his administration’s reversal of Obama-era laws banning the import of elephant and lion trophies, Trump tweeted Friday night that the measures would be delayed until further notice.
Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2017
On Thursday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would begin permitting the import of elephant parts from Zimbabwe and Zambia, claiming that the imports will help raise money for conservation efforts.
“The decision is part of a robust United States conservation strategy that seeks to eliminate poaching and associated wildlife trafficking while using legal, managed hunting programs to support wildlife and habitat conservation in range countries,” read the statement.
An identical argument was made to justify the issuing of permits for African lion trophies, ABC News reported.
But the measures were roundly condemned by conservation and animal rights groups.
On Twitter, photos of Donald Trump Jr. holding a severed elephant tail while on a hunt in Africa were widely circulated by people angry with Trump’s decision.
WATCH: Animal activists blast Trump’s reversal of elephant trophy killing ban
The African Wildlife Foundation said the measure effectively ended the United States’ “leadership role” in battling wildlife poaching and trafficking.
“Announced just after the establishment of the new International Wildlife Conservation Council — whose membership is dominated by the U.S. gun lobby and hunting groups — this reversal shows a trend toward Washington, DC cronyism entering the international conservation effort,” the organization said in an online call to action.
Africa’s elephant population has declined by 30 per cent in seven years, while the lion population has dropped by 43 per cent in 21 years, according to the group.