WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has revoked his administration's decision to lift its ban on the import of elephant trophies hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia, pending a thorough review of the matter.
The lifting of this ban, imposed in 2014 under former President Barack Obama, was announced on Thursday by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which said that it would begin issuing permits for the "import of elephant hunting trophies" culled in Zimbabwe and Zambia between January 2016 and December 2018, reports Efe news.
However, following criticism from conservationists and animal rights organisations such as the Humane Society, Trump said on Friday that the ban will remain in effect as he reviews all conservation data.
Although African elephants are listed as an endangered species in the US, the government may authorise the importation of hunting trophies if it decides that killing these animals is beneficial to conservation efforts.
In a statement, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, called it "absurd" for the US to find Zimbabwe capable of properly managing the hunting and conservation of its elephants, citing the country's political crisis.
According to Pacelle, Zimbabwe's elephant population has declined by 6 per cent since 2001 and evidence shows that poaching has increased where trophy hunting is permitted.
With regard to Zambia, Pacelle explained that, from a population of more than 200,000 elephants in 1972, it has diminished to only about 21,000 in 2016, with ivory trafficking the greatest threat to the survival of the species in that country.
In 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service had banned the sale of ivory from African elephants between US states and increased export restrictions.